As the tiny 6 seater Cessna lifted off the runway, I began to feel nauseous. I’d heard that the flights over the Nazca lines could be a bit rough, but had never experienced air or motion sickness before, so thought all would be fine. I’d also never been in a small plane before and my stomach realised the reality of small aircraft travel as soon as we were airborne. My head kept telling my stomach to get over it and my eyes to stay open and on the lookout for those famous lines.
It was a day of intrigue and mystery. We’d spent the morning at the Chauchilla Cemetery, discovered in the 1920s and dating back to as early as 200AD. The human bones strewn across the desert as we approached gave us some idea of what we were about to see. While grave-robbers had destroyed a number of the burial sights, protection from the Peruvian government, along with restoration projects has meant that there are still a number of graves intact. Looking down into the burial pits, you can see the well-preserved bodies that were buried over 1000 years ago, many with hair, skin and clothing still attached. Unlike the more common burial techniques of laying the dead out horizontally, these skeletons were buried in an upright, seated position after being embalmed. The textiles they were wrapped in, along with the embalming, helped to keep these bodies so well-preserved through the centuries. Little is known about who these people were and why they were buried in this way, but the mystery behind it is what makes it so interesting.
From there, we headed to the small viewing platform on the Panamerican Highway, where 2 of the Nazca line figures are quite clearly visible, the tree and the hands/frog/owl/unidentified figure that could be anything really. The viewing tower is great for those who are on a tight budget or who suffer from motion sickness, but only skims the surface of the Nazca lines.
While not cheap, the flight definitely gives the best views of the figures, and allows you to see many more than can be seen from the viewing platform, including the Monkey, Hummingbird, Spider, Condor, Whale, Dog, Astronaut and other random geometrical shapes. Once again, little is known about why and how the figures were created, but the sheer size and perfection of some of the lines is amazing, especially considering the Nazca people didn’t have planes to check that everything was going according to plan back in 400AD.
The flight itself lasts about half an hour, but with very few planes and few seats on said planes, along with the popularity of the flights, you can often spend a lot of the afternoon sitting in the airport waiting. Once you’re up in the air and you’ve overcome your slight motion sickness, the views are awesome. All the planes are small enough that you’re guaranteed a window seat, and they circle around so that no matter what side of the plane you sit on, you get great views of all the figures. And despite my nausea when we first took off, I was fine by the time we landed and there was no need for a quick dash to a toilet/bush/bin.
View the Nazca Lines on Tucan Travel’s Nazca Lines, Huacachina & the Ballestas Islands Add-on.