Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca

Or to give it the full UNESCO title, Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana, although I must admit to only visiting Nasca itself, 400km and a day’s bus journey south of Lima. Sadly I arrived one day too late for this feast of musical entertainment:

Nasca - banner

Nasca – banner

I’ve wanted to see the Nasca lines since I was a child and read about them in some terrible Eric von Daniken book (I plead the ignorance of youth your honour). They are an extensive collection of large stylised images (glyphs) and lines scratched into the coastal desert plain and low hills. They date from between 500BC and 500AD and cover an area of 450 square kilometres.

Nasca - landscape

Nasca – landscape

The images are visible because the gravel surface covering is weathered to a darker colour than the underlying ground, which was exposed when the lines were made.

Nasca - "hands" and "tree" glyphs

Nasca – “hands” and “tree” glyphs

The standard tourist way to see the lines is by taking a flight over them from the tiny airport. Once you’ve been weighed, you hang around watching a National Geographic video for an hour or so, go through a metal detector and then have a half hour flight in a tiny aircraft. Mine was in a four passenger Cessna that flew over each glyph twice, once banked one way and once the other, so we all got a photo opportunity. By the end of it I was feeling rather queasy and had to have a couple of hours sitting quietly on the roof terrace of my hostel to recover.

Nasca - "condor" glyph

Nasca – “condor” glyph

The glyphs on the standard tourist flight route all have names and the co-pilot identifies them and helps you pick them out of the landscape beneath you. Because they are not as easy to see as all the photos you’ve seen imply, nor as visually striking, at least not at that altitude. It was marvellous to see them nonetheless.

Nasca - museum exhibit

Nasca – museum exhibit

The small town of Nasca doesn’t have a great deal else to see, but there is an interesting archaeology museum hidden away in a research institution on the edge of town. They even had english translations of all the text. Exhibits included some lively ceramics and a few dried heads.

Nasca - museum exhibit

Nasca – museum exhibit

For the Lego model I’ve chosen this glyph:

Nasca - "humming bird" glyph

Nasca – “humming bird” glyph

And you can have the model by itself:

Lego Nasca - "humming bird" glyph

Lego Nasca – “humming bird” glyph

or with added dangling aircraft:

Lego Nasca - "humming bird" glyph with plane

Lego Nasca – “humming bird” glyph with plane

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2 Responses to Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca

  1. drsnyc says:

    love the added value of teh dangling aircraft. Hope yours didn’t go into quite such a nosedive.

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