You likely are familiar with Nazca, as this region is world famous for the Nazca lines. Tour Nazca and you’ll fly over the land to witness the geometrical figures and drawings in the sand. The reason that these lines are such a mystery is that you can really only see the animal shapes and patterns from the air. I wish I could tell you how ancient people with no means for air travel could have created these lines; however, the answer to this question truly remains a mystery! Some speculate that either the ancient people mastered travel in a hot air balloon or perhaps there was alien intervention involved!
Fragments of musical instruments have been found and archaeologists have figured out that people gathered in this desert area for religious ceremonies. The Ceremonial City of Cahuachi was an ancient pilgrimage city. One of the things that attracted people to this area was the fact that it had a good water supply. However, an earthquake destroyed Cahuachi in around AD 400.
People flying overhead first discovered the lines in the 1920s. Today, Nazca is a tourist destination due to the lines. People travel from far and wide to witness this mysterious historical destination.
Traveling to Nazca
Buses to Nazca go to and from Ica, which is a 2-3 hours trip. You can also take overnight buses from Cuzco (14 hours) and Arequipa (9 hours). The city of Nazca is very small and actually doesn’t have a bus station.
There are a limited number of hotels and hostels in Nazca. Some recommendations include Casa Hacienda Nasca Oasis. This hotel has roomy hacienda style accommodations and a pool.
A safe hostel that many travelers like is the Brabant Hostel. It is very inexpensive and only about a block from Nazca’s main square. In addition to breakfast, you will also get 24-hour hot water, private bathrooms and cable TV.
The Sites and Sounds of Nazca
Of course, while you are in Nazca, you will want to check out the Nazca lines. You can take a tour in the air to see them from overhead. These formations are between the Nazca River and Ingenio River, and you will see the following shapes: monkey, spider, bird, lizard, and more.
There are also additional attractions in the area including Museo Arqueologico Antonini, which is a museum dedicated to archaeology. Another interesting place to visit is the Cemetery of Chauchilla, which has skull and bones, as well as ceramic fragments. You can also find mummies in their graves that date back to 1000 AD.
Recommended Food Options
You won’t find too many restaurants in Nazca; however, like the rest of the country you can find some good authentic Peruvian cuisine. If you are looking for streetfood, you can find a variety of food stands at the south-east corner of the Plaza de Armas.
Some restaurants you might want to check out are La Encantada, which offers big portions and good quality food. There is also the Restaurant El Porton, which specializes in Barbecue.
One activity that you very well might want to try while you tour Nazca is to take a tour on an all terrain vehicle through the desert. People find these dune buggy ride/sand boarding rides to be a very fun way to explore the desert. The guides are known for being highly entertaining. The dune buggy tours will take you through the various dune formations and show you the ceremonial center of Cahuachi. Many travelers consider this to be the ultimate way to experience the Usaka desert.
One word of warning- travelers must be sure to watch out for shady people pretending to be travel agents. These “touts” unfortunately are rampant in Nazca and will approach you on the street or at a bus stop offering great deals. Although these unscrupulous “salespeople will likely approach you” be sure to ignore them.