The Nazca lines are a enigma where ancient peoples drew huge figures out of rock and sand in a dry desert in southern Peru. For a people who didn’t have flight technology, the lines are mysteriously best seen from the sky.
For many travellers hoping to travel for as long as then can on the funds that they have, going on an expensive Nazca lines flight is a tough choice. Below is weighing out the two options – the viewing tower and the flight and then my opinion of the two.
Nazca lines flights –
There are three companies avaliable. We chose Movil Air with its 12 seater plane (plus pilot and co-pilot), comfortable seats and air-conditioning because we heard it would be bettter for motion sickness. Alas Peruanas flies with an adventurous two seater plane so there is just four people in the whole plane in total. However, with the smaller planes, there is no air-conditioning (and it gets warm in there!) and passengers get headphones because it gets loud. The prices seem to be similar to any option – between $80 to $100 USD. Add to this price the $10 USD for the airport tax and transportation to the airport – about 5 sols ($2 USD) each way from Nazca to the airport if staying in town or $30 USD for private van roundtrip from Huacachina oasis (you can do it a bit cheaper by local transport but there’s a lot of transfering which all ends up adding up to almost the price for a private van if you have enough people). It is a 35 minute flight over 13 of the main geoglyphs. The pilots clearly direct you to each geogyIph. If you get motion-sickness, the flight may not be a good option for you since it circles the lines on one side for the passengers on the left to see and then circles on the other side for the other passangers to see – a lot of spinning!
Viewing tower –
The viewing tower is a metal tower about four sets of staircases high beside the Pan-American highway. Some tourist buses (included with Peru Hop buses) stop here. It is only 2 sols but you only get to see two of the lines – the hands and the tree geoglyphs. However, you do get to see the lines fairly clearly to make out their entire shape. It can be really windy and I’ve heard of the tower shaking a bit but we didn’t have that issue at all. Not a good option for someone scared of heights.
My verdict after experiencing both of them –
The flight is expensive but in my opinion, it is worth it. It is much better than the viewing tower.
Though you can see the full hands and the tree geoglyphs fairly clearly from the tower, I felt like it was really missing something compared to the flight. Viewing it from the tower, the two geogylphs were isolated and interestingly, actually looked smaller than when we saw it from the air. After viewing the lines both from the sky and from the ground, you can see how these devotional masterpieces were always meant to be seen from the heavens. The lines from the air were etchings from the distant past, a variety of stark to faded lines that were sometimes easy and othertimes hard to see on the vast desert plain that served as a giant artistic canvas. The lines are not isolated as commonly seen in photographs where you see the hummingbird by itself and the next picture is of the monkey by itself for example. The large plain is like a huge piece of paper with centuries of doodles – there is a progression from animal and human figures to more lines and geometric shapes over the ages, lines criss-crossing everywhere and overlapping geoglyphs where you can see a figure over and top of an older, faded figure. There are so many more lines and figures than ever imagined when viewing it from the air – many more than the dozen or so that are commonly talked about and photographed. In fact, more are being discovered everyday. The plain viewed from the air in its grand scale is a window into the past of lost culture of the Nazcas and a snapshot of the vibrancy of their culture over the ages, their dreams, imagination, desires and fears captured in stone and sand on the desolate windy, sunbaked plain. It is dramatic and impressive viewed from the sky as you can appreciate the bigger picture of it all. From the tower, the two lines looked lonely and small in the vast desert plain lit by the dying sunlight at dusk. A couple other guys from the bus said, “Biggest hoax ever! This is just like the crop-circles” as they clambered down the metal steps. From the tower, it is easy to see how they thought so. From the sky, however, you are like a Nazca god or goddess (or alien as some suggest), viewing them in all their glory and splendor as they are intended, seeing their hard work and effort that reaches out of past to inspire even the present.