Flying over the Nasca lines

There’s only one reason to go to Nasca (in our opinion…) – and that is to take a flight over the world-famous Nasca lines.

The Nasca lines are famous because many of them can only really be appreciated from the air – yet they were created around 2000 years ago, before anyone could fly! They consist of thousands of shapes that have been created in the desert by scraping off a rocky layer of the desert soil to reveal a different coloured subsoil underneath. Because of the harsh desert climate that they are in, the lines have been preserved for more than 2000 years. They were created by the Nasca people – an ancient desert civilisation.

We had seen pictures of some of the Nasca lines before – the most famous one that I remember seeing was ‘the hummingbird’. We were surprised to find that not only were there lots of different designs of animals etc, but that there were also hundreds and hundreds of triangle shapes, lines, square shapes, and various other marks in the desert. From above it looked like a giant mess of doodles.

Luckily for us ‘non-observant’ types, there was a running commentary from the pilot of the plane telling us where to look for the various shapes – and also a handy diagram provided so that you knew what order you were going to see them in while you were flying.

The true meaning of the lines remains unknown, but there are plenty of theories around…. looking at them from above, it seemed incredible that people 2000 years ago had spent all this time creating these amazing shapes.

So…. how was the flight? Well, it was pretty good – there are lots of stories from the olden days (mainly the 80s and 90s) of fatal crashes, children flying the planes, planes with no safety inspections, drunk pilots etc – you name it – if it was bad, it had happened on a Nasca lines flight…! However, since 2010 the situation has improved considerably – and although I would say it’s definitely more dangerous than going on a normal scheduled airline – I would also say that it’s probably not as risky as travelling the length of Peru by bus…!

We flew with Aeronasca – here is their check-in desk.

After we checked in at the airport, we had to hang around until we were called for our flight – it took around an hour, so we went for a walk around the outside of the airport (it’s not a very big airport – small aircraft only).

Nasca airport – as seen from a disused building across the street fom the airport.

The plane that we flew in was a 6-seater plane – we had all been carefully weighed, and no hand-luggage was allowed except for cameras and water bottles. We had been warned that it was a VERY turbulent flight, so we had taken the precaution of taking some motion-sickness pills beforehand! I can safely say that neither of us vomited during the flight – RESULT! 🙂 Also, as you are reading this now, then clearly our plane didn’t crash either – EVEN BETTER RESULT! 🙂

Here we are, ready to board our plane.
Here we are inside the plane – we get a whole row to ourselves!

Once everyone was seated – we were off! The plane follows a route that goes past each shape – first on the left of the plane, and then the same shape on the right of the plane – so that people on both sides of the plane can view them. This results in some quite extreme turns… we congratulated ourselves on having taken the motion-sickness pills! 🙂

Here is our route – handily shown on the provided card.

As you can see (if you have good eyesight….) from our route-card above, we saw the shapes in the following order: Whale, Astronaut, Monkey, Dog, Hummingbird, Condor, Spider, Heron bird, Parrot, Tree, and Hands.

It wasn’t too difficult to make out the shapes as we flew over them – each time we found a shape it was kind of exciting 🙂  We had a vote on our favourite shape and it wasn’t very succesful – it was pronounced a draw between the Astronaut, the Spider, and the Monkey… we had no ‘official’ criteria, it was based on ‘how cool’ they looked 🙂 🙂 Here are some of our pics of the shapes…

Heron bird.
Tree and Hands – these were the two shapes that we saw from the observation tower back on land. You can see the highway and observation tower looking very small down below.

After going over all the shapes, the plane flies over the ancient spiral aqueducts that were also created by the Nasca people – they looked pretty amazing.

Nasca aqueducts.

The desert scenery that the flight goes over is also really spectacular to look at. There are mountains in the background, triangles and lines carved everywhere into the ground, and the highway and town of Nasca are the only signs of modern civilisation.

View of the desert below.
The highway cuts through the desert.
Mountains in the distance.
The town of Nasca from above.

Our only complaint about the flight was that it wasn’t long enough! It was a great experience 🙂

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