The mysterious Nazca in Peru

After Machu Picchu we had to drive almost 700 km from Ollantaytambo (the place where we left the car) to Nazca. Since we arrived in Ollantaytambo only around 10:30am we spent one night in Abancay, which was just 220 km from Ollantaytambo (but around 5 hours driving). There's nothing to see in Abancay - it's just a small town in the middle of a valley and a necessary stop to rest for the next day.

From Abancay to Nazca it is just 460 km but it took us all day. We drove for around 10 hours with a few stops to rest and eat. All the way from Ollantaytambo to Nazca is crossing mountains and valleys, so it's not an easy trip. When we arrived into our Hotel we were exhausted. It was just 5pm and we went for an early dinner to go to bed as soon as possible (we woke up before 6am).

Nazca Lines - the fingers

Nazca is a small city located in the Ica region, on the southern coast of Peru. Its name is derived from the Nazca culture (100BC-800AD), the one responsible for the famous Nazca Lines and the ceremonial center of Cahuachi.

In the city center it is possible to visit the Antonini Museum, an excellent and very informative archeological museum. It has a valuable collection of objects from the Nazca culture and explains with detail the excavations and research of the Nazca main sites like Cahuachi. It has also an original aqueduct running through the garden and a replication of the Nazca lines where it is possible to get an overview of the site.

Panamerican viewpoint

The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the middle of the desert. There are hundreds of individual figures from simple lines to more complex ones like monkeys, spiders, hummingbirds and sharks. More than 70 are animals or human figures, other designs include trees and flowers. The UNESCO declared the Nazca Lines a World Heritage Site in 1994.

The only way to see all the lines is by plane. Since it was too expensive (and dangerous!) we decided to go to the Panamerican viewpoint where it is possible to see 3 figures: the human hands, the tree and part of the parrot.

Nazca lines

We also visited the ceremonial center of Cahuachi, 25km from Nazca city center through a dirty road (almost 45m driving). Te site contains several mounds topped with adobe structures. It is a huge architectural complex but visitants can only see part of it. The place was still being studied and excavated until a couple of years ago when the crisis in Europe stopped this project (it was an Italian project).

Cahuachi archeological site

The visit is free and took us around 30 minutes to walk around and observe the structures. There was a person there just to make sure you don't destroy and stole anything, which is actually the greatest problem facing the site today.

Cahuachi archeological site

Nazca is also one of the most arid regions in the world! The annual average temperature is 21ºC and even during the winter (from June to August) there's an intense sun all the time which makes this the perfect place to stop for a few days. And that's what we did! We decided to stay almost for one week to enjoy full days at the pool, read and sleep.

Enjoying the Nazca winter of 30ºC in the pool

Next stop: Ica, Huacachina and Paracas (Peru!)

Practical information

  • Main costs: Nazca Lines viewpoint (3 Soles/person), Antonini Museum (15 Soles/person), Cahuachi is free (but you can donate a few soles to the guard).
  • Note: the road from Nazca to Cahuachi is unpaved and one of the worst we have done but it is possible to do it in a normal car like ours (VW Fox).
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