After a couple of hours bus ride from Huaccuchina, we arrived in Nazca early in the evening. Resisting the attempts of a local agent to lure us to her “new, not in the guide book yet” hotel, we took a taxi to the hostel we’d chosen: The Walk On Inn. When we arrived we were absolutely exhausted and the hostel, with it’s cosy lounge, free Coca Tea (Peruvian tea which is supposed to help with altitude sickness), free book swap, free internet access, piles of lonely planet guide books to brouse through and super friendly staff, was exactly what we needed! I’m aware that I sound like an advert here, but it really was an awesome place… and it had hot water to boot. Wow, quite a scarce commodoty in Peru.
We headed out to dinner that evening and found Nazca to be exactly as described: a nice place with nothing much to it. Until the Nazca lines were discovered in the late 1930s, Nazca was literally a ghost town. The Nazca Lines remain the one and only reason to visit. The Nazca Lines are basically a huge expanse of shapes drawn into the ground. No one knows why or how they were drawn, but they are thought to have been created in the Pre-Inca times (the Incas were the local people), around about 500 AD. They were only discovered when people really started using aeroplanes, as you can’t tell anything is even there from ground level- this makes it even more amazing: how did the Inca’s manage to draw such incredible shapes and mile long straight Lines, without seeing what they were doing?
The most popular way to view the Lines is to take a small, rickety aircraft flight over them. We looked into this the next day and soon found out that it was crazily expensive (at least it is when you’re on a serious budget). Instead of throwing away over US $200 on a flight we decided to visit the Mirador Observation tower instead. This tower was a 20km local bus ride away and cost just 1 Peruvian Sols (around 10 pence) to visit.
The bus journey was adventurous. The buses here don’t have a timetable, they literally sit and wait until they are full, then drive off. Once we had got on the bus, a woman with a child and two goats and a large number of locals (sitting and standing – they literally squeeze you all on until no more can fit) joined us, then we were off.
The guide book was right when it said the Observation tower only gives you a sketchy view of the Lines. We could see a lizard and a hand with nine fingers. More importantly, we could see the damage that the creation of the Carr Panamericana Sur Highway (the main road through Peru) has done to the lines. The road was built before the Lines were discovered, and it’s creation has effectively demolished the tail of the Lizard.
From the tower we could also see a large hill/ small mountain in the distance. It looked as though you’d get a different view from there so we decided to walk along the desert highway to have a look. Walking in the mid-day sun in the middle of the desert is not the best idea, but after about a 45-minute-walk we arrived – and the view from the hill was absolutely worth the trek. The Lines were not much clearer from here, but the view of the desert spread out before us along with the towering mountains in the distance was just incredible.