Flying Over the Nazca Lines – Our Aerial Adventure

lineas de nazca sign - nazca desert - peru

Our drive from the town of Pisco, in Peru, towards the town of Nazca and the world famous Nazca Lines of Peru took us away from the coastline and gradually entered an area of totally different terrain.

mirador tower in nazca desert - peru - south america

Our first destination was a steel tower in the Nazca desert called the “Mirador Tower”.   Although we still planned to take to the skies to see the Nazca Lines from a small airplane, at the Mirador Tower, we climbed up to have a preview of some of the Nazca Lines etched in the desert sand nearby.

touring hands - nazca lines - peru - frame to frame

From the tower, three of the strange geometric designs are evident.  You see here the smaller “manos” (hands).

rock carver - nazca lines - peru - south america

At the tower, a local man were busy carving the designs of the various Nazca Lines onto rocks.

maria reiche museum - nazca - peru - south america

On the way to the Nazca airport, we pulled into the Casa-Museo Maria Reiche (museum), named for the German anthropologist who dedicated her life to studying the Nazca Lines.  Maria Reiche was born in Dresden, Germany in 1903.  She studied mathematics and geography at the Dresden Technical University.

maria reiche - nazca lines of peru

In 1932, she came to Peru as a nanny and a teacher of the German children at the German consulate in Cuzco, Peru.  When the second world war started, Maria decided not to return to Germany.  In 1940, she became the assistant to American archaeologist Paul Kosok.  Kosok had discovered the Nazca lines.  In 1946, Maria started to map the geometric shapes that she found in the desert.  She believed that the lines had been constructed as a Sun calender and as a means to observe astronomical sightings.  She convinced the Peruvian Air Force to finally do flyovers and to help her undertake the first ever aerial photography of the Nazca lines.

maria reiche museum - main building - nazca - peru - south america

Maria worked alone in the desert at her scientific center, pictured above.  In her final years, she was able to persuade the government of Peru to protect and preserve the Nazca Lines.

maria reiche gravesite - nazca - peru - south america

Maria Reiche passed away in 1998.

jean and bob prepare for take off - nazca lines - peru - south america

Bob and I arrived at the airport, paid for our flight and boarded a little prop plane.

I loved the sonorous roar and speed of the takeoff as the plane raced down the runway.  It was exciting!  Once in the air, the panoramic view of the valley and surrounding mountains was breathtaking.  Our flight was to be 45 minutes long, allowing time to pass over all the Nazca Lines as well as the aqueducts.

aerial view of line drawings - nazca lines of peru - south america

At first, it was difficult to spot the various etchings that make up the Nazca Lines of Peru  on the hard sandy surface.  With patience, however, each subsequent drawing was easier to identify.  Some were more pronounced than others.

various lines at nazca lines of peru - south america -

The lines, triangles and trapezoids are very intriguing because of the mathematical skills that would have been required to draw them on such a large scale and with such precision. Some are even designs of animals and human figures.

aerial view of - alcatras - geoglyph at nazca lines of peru - south america

As the plane swooped over one area, Bob and I could pick out the Alcatras below.  When we were at the tower, we saw firsthand that the lines are a result of someone removing the sunburnt reddish pebbles to the side and uncovering the whitish colored ground below. The resulting artistic trenches are only 10 to 30 cm deep.

aerial view of - the humming bird - geoglyph at nazca lines of peru

aerial view of - humming bird - geoglyph at nazca lines of peru

The Humming Bird, is 93 meters or 319 feet long.

cerro blanco mountain - valley of nazca - peru

During our flight, it was impossible to miss Cerro Blanco, the world’s highest sand dune.

cerro blanco mountain - closeup - valley of nazca - peru

It is located at the end of the Nazca Valley and rises to 2,070 metres, or 6,791 feet.  That is a lot of sand!!

Nazca Puquios and Aqueduct system - peru - south america

From the air, we also had the chance for a bird’s-eye view of the Nazca Puquios and Aqueduct system.  This is a unique system for tapping underground water sources that modern day researchers have determined existed in Pre-Columbian times.

nazca puquios and aqueduct wells - peru

As can be seen in our photographs, the local people dug horizontal trenches and tunnels deep into the ground to reach the water far below the earth’s surface.  Given this is one of the driest places on the planet, it is no surprise that the aqueducts are still in use today.

aerial view of nazca valley

All in all, the flight was very rewarding and left us wondering how these ancient peoples could have drawn such elaborate outlines of creatures without having a bird’s eye view of their work in progress.  How did they have knowledge of creatures not native to the area?  We will never know.

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Comments or questions are welcome.

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

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