Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nazca...One of the Many Mysteries of Peru

Is it a monkey, or is it something more cryptic?  Questions like these fill the minds of everyone and anyone who sees these amazing figures in the high elevation Pampa between the cities of Nazca and Palpa.  The figures and lines cover some 400 square miles of land and there are roughly 350 of them.  This desert area only gets about 20 minutes of rain a year.  It is one of the driest places on Earth.  Because of its elevation and location there is very little wind if any at all.  These are the conditions that make the figures possible.  If the conditions were not ideal, these figures would not still be there after all these centuries.  It is estimated that the Nazca people created these figures between 200 BC and 600 AD.

But yet the questions remain.  What are they supposed to be?  Why are they there?  Do they have a significance that we can't fathom? 
Some people see alien runways.  Is it possible?  Who knows?  Imagine what aliens would think about if they landed on the moon and saw our footprints there?  It is the closest comparison that can be made, given the simple fact that Nazca is the only place in the world that preserves markings this completely.

There is a school of belief that the Nazca people used them for irrigation purposes.  I'm not sure how that would get us a spider or a monkey.  But who knows how the ancient Nazca lived?

What most people don't seem to know, because it's hard to find out anything about the area other than the lines themselves, is that there are archeological sites in the area exploring the histories of these amazing desert people.  Cahuachi is what it's called, and it's believed to be an ancient city.  There are some pyramids, and a lot of holes that look like ancient wells.  Every year, archeologists come for a few months and work on the city.  Hopefully, at some point they will gain some insight into the people that will help us to understand the figures in the desert.


Nazca City, as it stands today isn't far from the area where the lines are.  It's not far from Ica or Lima actually, and can be reached by bus from all these locations.  Nazca is a small village, with a struggling economy.  Tourism is one of their best sources of income.  There are several hotels and restaurants that will make you comfortable.  The people are warm and inviting.  Just be careful of the others.  Crime is a problem in the Pampa.  Be aware of your surroundings and I wouldn't take a bus at night.  Not that anything will happen, but just in case.  Be practical.

This is one of those places where you can find resort hotels in the middle of nowhere.  It's like something out of Indiana Jones.  Talk with a tour company and make arrangements, and who knows what you might find?

There are a lot of things to see in the high desert of Peru.  There are aqueducts, pyramids, archeological digs, and small villages.  Going to see the sights of Nazca is a great addition to a Peru tour.  Just remember, you will pay.  The only way to get a good look at the 350 figures in the desert is to do it by plane or helicopter.  Plane is the better way, because there is less chance of disturbing anything on the ground with artificial wind.
There are many tour companies that will take you to see the lines.  Make sure that you check on your company to make sure that they are safe and reliable.  Make sure that you plan your visit at a good time of year which is usually from May through November.  This is one of those places.  It's wonderful and amazing, but you have to be practical.  However, it is something that you'll never forget.

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