Monday 6th -Tuesday 7th August Nazca

We took a 2 hour bus trip this morning to the town of Nazca where we were hoping to get a glimpse of the mystical Nazca lines by plane. Unfortunately when we arrived we found out that the planes had been all booked up in advance due to a number of dust storms in the area. We were still able to organise a tour for the following day to view the Nazca lines.  That night we did an amazing tour in a planetarium which explained the significance of the Nazca lines and their relation to the stars in the sky. Afterwards we were able to see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter through the telescope which was amazing. The guide also pointed out a number of constellations in the night sky particular to the southern hemisphere including the Southern Cross and the Milky Way. The theories about the Nazca lines are varied and no one really knows why the people decided to create these lines thousands of years ago. The lines were created by removing the top layer of the rocky soil to show the different coloured soil below. The lines were often emphasised by rocks.  The lines have remained as they are for so many years due to the lack of rain that occurs in the region (often only 3 hours per year!).  Many of the lines point to water sources in the mountains or constellations in the sky and it is thought that they were directional or a way of praying to the gods. The famous shapes are also thought to be sacred places, offerings to the gods which the people used to pray for rain in dry times. These lines may have been worn into the ground over generations by people continuously walking over them. The whole presentation was super interesting and I learned a lot about the history of the area and about the night sky!

The following day we were driven to two viewpoints to see the Nazca lines. One of the shapes had had the highway built right through it before commercial airline pilots flew over the area in the 1920s. We were able to see a bird shape from the tower as well as a lizard cut in half. We then drove on to a different tower where we were able to see some pre Nazca figures – these were different because they had been built up on the hill rather than carved into the ground. There was one representation of a family and some other figures which were very different in style to the Nazca lines. Finally, our driver took us to an old cemetery where Pre-Incan families were mummified and buried. Unfortunately, these tombs have been dug up by grave robbers and the textiles and potteries that these people were buried with to guide them to the underworld have been sold off and lost to the area. However, the mummies are still very well preserved due to the dry climate of the area, and it is possible to still see hair and some scraps of clothing on the mummies.