Seven hours to the south of Lima we’ll find a city embedded in the Nazca desert, an enigmatic place that is home of wonderful buildings of a town that knew how to make this place their home despite the weather.
You can get to this place in two different ways: By plane from Lima, on a trip that will take you around half an hour and by bus from Lima city crossing beautiful places with breathtaking landscapes. …
For a desert, the coastal region of Ica in Peru certainly has a lot to offer, including Humboldt penguin colonies, mummies, pyramid temples, the Nazca Lines, sandboarding around Huacachina Oasis, pisco distilleries, and Afro-Peruvian criollo music and food. Learn which activities in the Ica Region are most popular, how to get there, and what traditional dishes to eat while you’re there… …
Maria Reiche’s birthday is coming up, this May 15th. She’s the famed Lady of the Desert, who devoted the majority of her life to the study and protection of the mysterious Nazca Lines. In celebration of this, the city of Nazca holds its tourism week around the same time, with celebrations beginning around 10 days in advance, May 5th, and lasting until the 15th. We don’t have the specific program yet, but will hopefully have the full event list, dates and times soon!
After the fall of the Ceremonial City Cahuachi around 400AD due to a series of natural disasters that foresaw the fall of their civilization, the center of Nazca civilization was based in the area on which today’s city of Nazca sits. The civilization is known above all for the enigmatic Nazca Lines which cover miles of the desert floor in geometric shapes and pictures of animals and people and can only be fully seen from the sky. Their purpose is still debated, although the most popular theories contend that they were the world´s largest astronomical calendar designed to correlate with celestial movements, please the gods, and remind them of the need to provide for the crops and harvests. The most recent theories now suggest that they were also used as ceremonial pathways for the same reason.
Tips on the Nazca Lines
Remember that most tours do not include the Air Tax, which at the moment is S/.25.00 (soles).
Flights are short, but you can also book a longer flight that also includes the nearby Palpa Lines.
Earlier flights are better for increased visibility. (Flights run from 7am – 4pm.)
Some people choose to take motion sickness pills in advance, since the pilots tilt and turn as much as possible to ensure that everyone gets good views of the ground.
Nazca is located about 400km south of Lima. If you’re only going to go see the Nazca Lines, try a one or two night trip departing from Lima, although a couple nights extra would allow you the opportunity to visit the Cantayoc Aqueducts, Chauchilla Cemetery, or the ruins of Cahuachi.
A direct bus takes about 9 hours, although you can split the trip up if you were planning on visiting Paracas Bay to see the Ballestas Islands, or Huacachina Oasis for some sandboarding, as companies such as Cruz del Sur make stops in both Ica and Paracas. You can do overnight buses or during the daytime. If you’ve stopped in Ica to visit Huacachina, small buses known as colectivos leave frequently for Nazca, the 2-3hr trip costs S/.12.00 (soles).
Overnight buses from Cuzco will take you 14 hours, and from Arequipa 9 hours, although trip times are very approximate, depending on the weather, road conditions, etc. Expect prices to range from S/.60.00-S/.180.00 (soles), and vary during high and low tourist seasons.
When looking for a place to stay, we hope that you’ll givePirwa Nazca Backpackersa try! Not sure?Click here for an independent review of Pirwa Nazca from another travel blog….
What to Do in Nazca Aside From the Lines…
A visit to the Museo Arqueológico Antonini on Avenida la Cultura will give you priceless insight into the Nazca people, teaching about the archeological sites and the Nazca Lines, the system of aqueducts that they created, the detailed polychrome ceramics for which they are famed, their mummies and their skilled textile work.
The Cantayoc Aqueducts is an impressive underground irrigation system unlike any you’ve seen, that managed to bring life to this arid landscape. After a thousand years, some are still in use today! (Tour Info on the Cantayoc Aqueducts)
At Chauchilla Cemetery you can observe incredibly well-preserved mummies and artifacts including deformed skulls and ‘trophy heads’ more than a thousand years old. (Tour Info on Chauchilla Cemetery)
The Cahuachi Archeological Site 20min from Nazca was once a ceremonial and pilgrimage center, the Nazca’s most important city. Stop by to see the adobe pyramids and temples, which are still being excavated to this day.
Named after the Nazca Civilization which rose to prominence in this area, travelers to Nazca, Peru can explore the ruins, mummies, and famous marks this great civilization left upon the desert floor before they disappeared into mystery. While the town itself may seem sleepy at first glance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that it is also a popular stop for those interested in more extreme pastimes like sandboarding and dunebuggying!
What are our top recommendations for your stay in Nazca?…..
#5 The Cantalloc Aqueducts
Thousands of years ago the Nazca developed an extensive system of subterranean aqueducts to provie year-round access to water in the arid desert unlike any found elsewhere. More than 30 of these channels of have not only survived seismic activity but actually remain in use by farmers! The best-preserved channels are in the higher Nazca Valley’s Cantayo zone. You’ll find the channels lined with riverocks and manholes with descending spiral paths to be both beautiful and fascinating.
Gain valuable insight into the Nazca culture by visiting the remarkably well-preserved mummies of the ancient necropolis of Chauchillas. These bodies still retain hair and soft tissue such as skin after a thousand years. You’ll see trophy heads and head jars as well. Tours to Chauchillas generally include a demonstration of artisan gold mining and the traditional method of producing the beautiful polychrome ceramics for which the Nazca were famed.
Exploring the Usaca Desert in dunebuggies brings off-roading fun to your trip. Despite their small size, these can go pretty fast, hitting and jumping dunes for some desert thrills. Many tours stop for guided visits at the abandoned adobe city of Cahuachi, once the religious center of the Nazca, and Estaquería, the Place of the Stakes, where it is believed mummies were painted in a dark resin and put out to dry.
The most popular options for sandboarding are Cerro Blanco (White Hill), once considered a deity known as Yuraq Orjo. It’s reputed to be the world’s largest sand dune, reaching 2,087m above sea level in the Nazca Valley. One can practice on smaller dunes around the peak before taking the big leap! Another popular spot for adrenaline-seekers wishing to try sandboarding is the beautiful Huacachina Oasis, along its surrounding dunes.
Of course any list on activities in Nazca must culminate with the world-famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, whose original purpose and method of construction still incite debate. Tours include an introductory video and then half hour flight in light aircraft, from where you’ll be able to see the animal figures and geometric shapes which sprawl over miles of the desert floor, so large that they can only be seen from the sky. Among other figures, you’ll be able to spot the monkey, lizards, spider, dogs, hummingbirds, the condor, and plants and flowers.
Pirwa Nazca Backpackers located only a few blocks from Nazca’s Main Square, just 5 minutes from the bus terminal and 10 minutes from the airport. You’ll be able to take advantage of the sunny climate in the outdoor patio, where you can throw a barbecue and relax in the hammocks. After a day of exploration, you can retire to a comfortable bed in a room with private bath (whether private room or shared dormitory) with 24/7 hot water access. You’ll find that Fernando and the rest of the Pirwa Nazca family are eager to help travelers feel comfortable and to assist with trip planning, be it transport, guided excursions, or lodging reservations in other cities. We hope you’ll come visit us in Nazca during your trip through Peru!