Discovering the Mysteries of Nazca Lines: A Complete Guide

Discovering the Mysteries of Nazca Lines: A Complete Guide

Researchers, tourists, and conspiracy theorists have all been astonished and interested by the Nazca Lines for many years. More than 2,000 years ago, these large geoglyphs were carved into the ground of the Peruvian desert and show a wide range of shapes, including animals, plants, and geometric patterns. Even after much research, the meaning and purpose of these lines are still unknown.

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the history and discovery of the Nazca lines, how you can get there, when is the best time to visit and much more. Let’s begin!

Table of contents:

The Basics of Nazca Lines

What Are the Nazca Lines and Where Are They Located?

street with cars next to geoglyphs

The Nazca Lines are a group of prehistoric geoglyphs that may be found in southern Peru’s Nazca Desert. Between 500 BCE and 500 CE, the Nazca civilization produced these amazing artworks, which span an area of nearly 80 square kilometers.

The geoglyphs feature hundreds of diverse patterns, including geometric shapes, geometric creatures, and flora.

Since many of the patterns are so big, it is only possible to fully appreciate them from the air, which has generated a lot of discussion about their significance and intended use. One of the most stunning archaeological wonders in the world, the Nazca Lines are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are many things to discover during your trip to Nazca, regardless of whether you’re interested in culture, history or the exciting sites.

What Are the Typical Tours That Include the Nazca Lines?

There are numerous tour choices that include a stop at the Nazca Lines. A day trip from Lima is a well-liked choice and typically takes 12 to 14 hours. It normally involves a flight above the geoglyphs and some free time to explore Nazca.

white small plane is flying over nazca lines

Another choice is to add the Nazca Lines within a longer Peru itinerary that also visits Ica and Arequipa. These trips extend several days and may include excursions to other nearby sights in addition to a fly over the geoglyphs.

Feel free to contact us if you are interested in adding this trip to your customized tour itinerary.


What Are the Different Types of Shapes That You Can See From Above?

The Nazca Lines are well-known for their complex and varied patterns, which comprise a vast variety of shapes that can only be completely understood from above. Animals like birds, monkeys, and fish as well as geometric patterns like spirals, triangles, and trapezoids are some of the most popular designs. Other patterns feature forests, flowers, and human beings.

different signs etched in the desert

The Nazca Spider, a gigantic spider with a length of almost 50 meters (164 ft), is one of the most well-known creations. Another well-liked motif is the hummingbird, which has elaborate wings and a large beak. The Nazca Condor is another remarkable design, with an astonishing wingspan of 130 meters (426 ft). That sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

The Nazca Lines also have countless straight lines and shapes that crisscross the desert landscape in addition to these more intricate patterns. The Nazca people are believed to have utilized these lines for ceremonial and astronomical purposes.

In turn, this leads to the next question…


How Were the Lines Created and How Have They Survived the Centuries?

Experts debate on the precise process that produced the Nazca Lines, but it is generally accepted that the lines were made by scraping out the dark-colored stones with iron oxide coatings that blanket the Nazca desert’s surface.

Due to the exposure of the lighter-colored sand beneath, the lines and shapes are formed by the contrast in color. Long ropes and sticks, as well as other basic materials, were probably utilized by the ancient Nazca people to create the artwork.

different elements in the desert

The Nazca desert’s dry, windless climate has allowed the Nazca Lines to endure for more than 2,000 years. This has helped in maintaining the lines and protecting them from erosion and other types of harm.

The Nazca people’s ability to live in harmony with nature and preserve the surrounding area is also thought to have contributed to the Nazca Lines’ long-term survival. To safeguard the geoglyphs from deterioration brought on by human activity, precautions are now taken, such as restricting access to the area and prohibiting flights over the lines.

Nowadays, the shapes are part of Peruvian culture and traditions and can be seen in different variations, such as artwork, marketing materials representing Peru and more.


Visiting the Nazca Lines

How You Can See the Nazca Lines Today

Without a doubt, seeing the Nazca Lines is a unique and remarkable experience. The lines themselves are best seen from the air, but you can also explore the nearby desert and discover more about the Nazca people’s history and culture.

A picturesque flight from the close town of Nazca is the best way to see the lines. Several tour operators arrange 30-minute flights that provide you with a bird’s-eye view of the Nazca Lines.

monkey geoglyph etched in the earth

You can view the numerous geoglyphs, such as the well-known hummingbird, monkey, and spider, as well as the miles-long geometric patterns and lines. Did you know that a flight over the Nazca lines is one of the top things to do in Peru?

There are also observation towers and viewing platforms that provide a closer perspective of some of the lines for travelers who would rather stay on the ground. You can also visit different museums nearby that offer details on the Nazca Lines and their cultural relevance.

While the Nazca Lines are a well-known tourist attraction, it’s essential to remember that they are fragile, so you should show respect and follow the guidelines from your tour guide. It is technically forbidden to walk or drive on the lines, therefore in order to preserve this historic marvel for future generations, you should stay on the trails and view places that have been set aside for them.


How to Get To Nazca

road next to nazca lines

Even though it’s not the easiest place to get to, it’s definitely worth the trip to see one of the most amazing archaeological wonders in the world. Here are the most common ways for travelers to get to Nazca.

From Lima

By Bus:

The most popular and cheapest way to travel between Lima and Nazca is by bus. Daily services between the two cities are provided by a number of bus operators; the trip takes 6 to 8 hours.  The most well-known bus company is Cruz del Sur. To guarantee a seat on the bus, it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance, especially during busy travel times.

By Plane: 

There are daily flights from Lima to Nazca for those who would choose a quicker and more convenient route. Numerous airlines, especially Sky Airline and LATAM, operate flights that last around an hour.

From Cusco

By Bus:

It’s not a recommended option as it is a 16-18 hour journey and you will feel very exhausted after it. Since there isn’t a direct bus route, you must first take a bus from Cusco to Arequipa before changing to a bus for the remaining leg to Nazca.

By Plane:

There is no direct flight from Cusco to Nazca and it typically involves a layover in Lima. The length of the layover and total flight time depends on the airline, but it typically takes between 2 – 3 hours.

From Arequipa

By Bus:

There are daily bus connections between the two cities offered by several bus companies; the trip takes 9 to 10 hours. The most popular bus companies are Civa, Oltursa and Cruz del Sur. To secure a seat on the bus, it is advisable to buy tickets in advance, especially during peak travel times.

By Plane:

Currently, there are no direct flights connecting Arequipa and Nazca. The majority of flights between Arequipa and Nazca stop in Lima, and the length of the layover and the particular airline can affect the overall trip time. Depending on the flight’s route and other considerations, the total travel time from Arequipa to Nazca might be anywhere from 4 and 8 hours or more.


Tips for Visiting Nazca

When Is the Best Time to Visit the Nazca Lines?

The dry season, which typically runs from May to November, is the ideal time to explore Nazca, which is one of the must-visit cities in Peru. The average high and low temperatures during this time are 27°C (81°F) and 15°C (59°F). It’s the ideal time of year to view the Nazca Lines from the air or from a viewing tower because the weather is sunny and dry.

different elements and signs etched in the earth

In contrast, Nazca has its wet season from December to April, when average high temperatures range from 25°C (77°F) to 14°C (57°F). It can be difficult to visit the area during this season because the desert terrain can get muddy and challenging to navigate.

Additionally, landslides and flooding from heavy rains can make the area dangerous to travel through.


What to Pack for Your Trip to Nazca

To ensure a safe and unforgettable experience, it’s important to pack the right things with you before visiting the Nazca Lines. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Sun protection: Due to the hot and unforgiving weather of the desert, it’s important to pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a bottle for water.
  • Solid footwear: You’ll be walking on uneven ground, so wear strong, supportive shoes.
  • Light and breathable clothes: The climate in Nazca is hot and dry..
  • Camera/cell phone: To capture your unique moments.
  • Medicine for motion sickness: If you are prone to motion sickness, make sure to take some medicine so that you can enjoy the flight.


Tours in Nazca

Nazca is very well-known for the mysterious Nazca Lines, which are geoglyphs that date back to between 500 BCE and 500 CE. While seeing the Nazca Lines is the primary attraction, you may also do other outdoor activities or discover more ruins closeby.

On our Peru destination page you can learn more about Nazca and all the things that you can do there. As mentioned at the beginning, a flight above the Nazca Lines is the highlight and offers an unmatched view of the geoglyphs from above. The flights leave from the Maria Reiche Neuman Airport.

desert dunes close to nazca

The Museo Antonini has a remarkable collection of artifacts and displays that highlight the history and customs of the Nazca people for those of you who are interested in the indigenous way of life. A dune buggy tour in the desert is another option for you, as it is a route to the highest sand dune in the world, Cerro Blanco, which lies closeby.

In general, Nazca provides you with a range of tours and activities to enjoy, from cultural encounters to outdoor adventures.


How Long Should You Stay In Nazca?

Despite being a small town, Nazca has enough attractions to keep you busy for a while. A trip to the Chauchilla Cemetery, a flight over the Nazca Lines and some time spent learning about the local way of life are typical stops on a normal itinerary. Most travelers stay in Nazca for one day (or one night), which is long enough to see all the major sights and still have time to unwind and take in the culture.

different skulls in the desert

The length of time you spend in Nazca ultimately depends on your specific interests and traveling preferences. In case you need more inspiration for your trip, feel free to take a look at our different Peru tours that will inspire you.

If you only have a day, you can visit the main sights from Lima or Arequipa. However, if you have some extra time, staying longer in Nazca will enable you to fully appreciate the town’s unique characteristics and charm.


Theories About the Purpose of the Nazca Lines

What Are the Most Popular Theories About Why the Nazca Lines Were Created?

Numerous hypotheses have been put out on the function and significance of the Nazca Lines, which have long been the topic of fascination and speculative interest. Scientific theories say that the lines were drawn for astronomical and calendrical purposes because many of the patterns match the motions of the sun, moon, and stars.

The long straight lines, for instance, may have served as a marker for the solstices and equinoxes. According to other researchers, the Nazca people lacked the sophisticated astronomical understanding required to create such precise alignments.

elements etched in the desert and view on mountains

The lines may have been drawn for religious or ritualistic purposes, and the Nazca people may have used them to communicate with their gods or ancestors. This is according to one scientific theory and is supported by the patterns’ integration of animal and plant themes, which the Nazca people may have seen as having spiritual meaning.

More speculative theories believe that the Nazca Lines were created by aliens or are the ruins of former runways used by advanced airplanes. The majority of archaeologists do not agree with these claims because there is no hard evidence to back them up.


The Discovery and Preservation of the Nazca Lines

When a commercial aircraft started flying over the Nazca desert in the late 1920s, passengers reported seeing weird lines and formations on the ground below. This is when the Nazca Lines were first made known to the outside world.

Paul Kosok, an archaeologist, visited the region in 1939 and started examining the lines, thinking that they were connected to astronomy. The Nazca Lines, however, didn’t start to receive considerable notice and study until the 1940s and 1950s.

geoglyphs etched in the ground and surrounded by hills

As mentioned before, the Nazca Lines are now a UNESCO World Heritage property and are under Peruvian government protection. Restricting access to the lines themselves and encouraging responsible tourism practices are just two of the measures taken to protect the lines and stop damage from tourism and other human activity.

The fragile designs are in danger of being damaged or destroyed by erosion, climate change, and other things, thus maintaining the lines has proven to be a difficult issue.


Discover the Cultural Treasure of the Nazca Lines

In summary, the Nazca Lines are a mysterious and interesting cultural treasure that has captured the attention of people all over the world. The lines are composed of complex geometric patterns and animal motifs that are best seen from above.

Scientists and archaeologists have proposed astrological and religious hypotheses concerning their creation, but their purpose and meaning remain a matter of discussion and conjecture. A trip to the Nazca Lines is a once-in-a-lifetime event that provides insight into the ancient cultures and societies that created them, whether seen from a plane or an observation tower.

Overall, the Nazca Lines serve as a reminder of our continued curiosity with the past and the ongoing influence of earlier societies. For that reason, we recommend you include this site in your Peru itinerary.

If you need more help creating the Peru tour of your dreams feel free to send us a mail to

  • 10 July, 2023 at 7:15 am

    The Nazca lines sound like an incredible adventure! Super interesting how they got built and thanks for sharing some helpful information on whats the best way to see them. I think we will add them to our itinerary for September.

    • 10 July, 2023 at 10:15 am

      Hey Diane, thanks for your comment. It really is a unique adventure and we definitely recommend it if you’re into this. Feel free to contact us at and one of our travel experts will get back to you in case you have any questions.

      All the best for you,

Leave a comment

Let’s plan your
dream trip to Peru

Let’s plan your
dream trip to Peru

All of our tour itineraries are 100% customizable. Just let us know your preferences below and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.

  • Hotels
    (Optional, multiple choices possible)
    Best Value
  • Trip Length
    Not sure yet