The famous “Nazca Lines”

Thursday July 19: this morning was our air flight over the pampas of Nazca and Palpa to see the Nazca Lines from the air. The flight was in a small four-seater plane with 3 passengers. The pilot banked over the large, light figures etched into the darker desert floor giving both sides of the plane spectacular views of the lines. Both Bill and I had our cameras clicking between looking. It was quite fantastic how the 2000-year old lines still show up to the naked eye and we both got some good photos as well. The lines are of three periods: the first are mostly rectangles, trapezoids and triangles, the second represent figures of animals and the third set are just lines. From the plane we also got some great views of the fertile river valley with its patchwork of green fields in the dry desert.

Friday July 20: we took another tour and learned a little more about the Nazca people and their “lines”. The tour was again with Juan, of Nazca Tours, who had been our guide to the cemetery ruins earlier. He is very knowledgeable. Today we toured the pre-Inca aqueducts and got a close up view of one of the many trapezoidal “Nazca Lines”. The aqueducts have been dated to 400AD and many are still in use today. The longest lengths of them are underground to slow evaporation in the desert heat. A series of wells, or “windows” with spiral walkways down into the aqueduct, serve as inspection sites similar to the manholes in the streets of today. Even today the farmers will crawl thru the aqueducts to remove accumulations of sand and debris. The aqueducts feed water into large covered pools for distribution, as needed, to irrigate the fields. The aqueducts get their water from underground rivers flowing down from the Andes and under the desert. During a dry period the Nazcas had discovered this underground water source and tapped it.

The “Nazca Line” that we visited today is one of the trapezoidal ones and seems to mark the underground river that feeds the aqueducts that we had just visited downhill.

We also visited the Paradones ruins. These are Inca ruins (much later than the Nazca) and contain the remnants of walls for artisan’s shops, animal barns and a watch tower. This is one of the many Inca fortresses built to guard the lands that they had conquered.