By Erin Hancock
One of Peru’s top attractions are the Nazca Lines. These geoglyphs (basically designs in the sand) are known around the world for their sheer size and uncertain history. A mere 20 years ago, they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Nazca desert showcases 70 of these images depicting natural objects – mainly animals and humans. Although some mention of the lines were made over 400 years ago, the credit for the first to really discover and explore the lines is given to an American researcher Paul Kosok in 1940. Many theorize that the lines were either created by aliens or otherwise created by Incas or a pre-Inca civilization as a gift to the gods (or to represent the celestial constellations), but many other theories get tossed around. The mystery is part of the charm.
We cheated! We only saw two of them from the mirador (look off). If you’re covering a lot of territory and/or on a budget (or uneasy about the flight over the desert), this is a great way to get a glimpse into the hype without committing. For less than $1USD, you can climb up the mirador and let your own mind run wild on theories as to how and why these images were created. For less than $100USD (booked ahead of time), one can take a plane ride over the lines and any tourists we spoke with highly recommended that option over the mirador.
You’ll see a bird and a tree. The monkey is one of the most famous ones so you’ll miss that one on this mini excursion (see the image of the monkey on wikipedia here). The Peru sign (seen darn-near everywhere in Peru) shown below is said to be inspired by the monkey’s tail in the Nazca Lines image.