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Enigmas in the sand

Some 400 kilometres from Lima you will discover a centuries-old mystery, spread out over the red sands of the pampas. The Nazca Lines comprise around 300 sand drawings of animals, insects and mythical creatures. The prehistoric creations, many kilometres in size, are still easily recognisable after 2,000 years. The Nazca Lines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

Nobody has been able to unravel the mystery of the Nazca Lines. The drawings are most likely the work of 3 different civilisations living in the region between 500 BC and AD 500. The ‘drawings’ can be admired in various ways, but due to their size they can only be seen in their entirety from great heights. Parts of some of the figures can be seen from the surrounding mountains and platforms along the Pan-American highway, while the best view of these ancient creations is from an aircraft.

Nazca Lines on the Pampas
Nazca Lines on the Pampas


The Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are situated some 400 kilometres south of Lima on the vast pampa plains. The nearest cities are Ica and Nazca. In Lima various bus companies offer tours to the cities and the trip itself takes around 7 hours. The best thing to do is to book a day trip. In addition to the bus ride from Lima, this also includes a flight over the Nazca Lines. It is possible to stay the night in Nazca but you can also return to Lima the same day.

Part of the lines form geometric shapes but there are also wonderful drawings of animals. The best preserved drawings are the Hummingbird, the Spider and the Monkey. The figures probably had a religious meaning. According to archaeologists, the Nazca Lines form a huge astronomic calendar in which the figures represent the various solar stages. It is said that the indigenous farmers used the complex designs to determine the agricultural cycle and used the knowledge to farm their land.

A flight over the Nazca Lines

How were the Nazca Lines made?

The enormous drawings were made using 2 techniques: for some, the creators stacked grit and stones in reliefs, but more often they dug out the red grit on the pampas to reveal the lighter coloured subsoil. It is not quite clear why the figures are so large. The possibility that there was such a thing as hot-air balloons some 2,000 years ago has been dismissed. It is quite possible that the creators wanted to show their work to the gods, watching from the skies.

“It is quite possible that the creators wanted to show their work to the gods, watching from the skies. ”

The Astronaut


The last drawings were found in the late 1980s. The discovery of a remarkable image called the Astronaut caused quite a stir. The drawing shows a waving figure who seems to be wearing a space helmet. There is still speculation on the possible involvement of aliens in the creation of the Nazca Lines, and they still attract people who believe that the drawings mark the spot of an alien landing site.