Inca Trail Hikes and Alternatives

The biggest reason to visit Peru is perhaps to complete the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – but there are plenty of other magnificent sights to see in this unique country, including the breathtaking and mysterious Nazca Lines.

Anyone who has an interest in history or the paranormal will love a visit to Nazca, in the heart of Perus arid landscape. It is located 400 km from the capital Lima, so there is only one reason to come to this area of the country and that is to see for yourself the fantastic, huge lines etched in the desert that can only really be appreciate from above.

What are they?

There are lots of mysteries and theories surroundings this site. The shapes cover more than 450 sq km and are thought to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD. The figures which can be several kilometres long create images of (include) plants, animals and other pictures.

While some people believe their purpose was related to astronomy, others think there is a more supernatural reason behind their existence, especially as they are so large that their shapes can only really be seen from above such as in a spaceship.

How were they made?

As much as the reason behind their existence remains a mystery, so too does the explanation as to how they were completed so successfully and on such a large scale. However, it is widely believed that two different methods were used to create the geoglyphs, depending on the age of the shapes.

The oldest lines were crafted between 500 and 300 BC by piling stones on top of each other to create these images. After this between 200 BC and 500 AD the lines were made by removing a layer of gravel from the ground, which resulted in the shapes being a lighter colour than the surrounding desert.

When taking a look at the shapes, you might be interested to know that the animal figures birds, a monkey, a lizard and a killer whale, for instance were made in the older period using the original method. The shapes that were created more recently include straight lines across the landscape. Some of these create geometric images, such as triangles, while others are perfectly straight lines measuring several kilometres in length.

How to see them

If you were to walk beside the Nazca Lines, youd probably not really be able to notice the impression of the shapes in the land, with some only being as shallow as 10 cm deep. Whats more, they are so massive in size, you’d have to hike many kilometres before you walked around just one shape.

As a result of this, the best and easiest way to see the Nazca Lines is by light aircraft. There are many tour operators offering short flights over the shapes and, by hopping into one of these planes, you’ll be able to fly over the desert and appreciate the images in their full glory.

Soaring over figures such as the hummingbird and the giant which does in fact look a bit alien-like youll certainly agree the entire site is rather intriguing, and immensely mysterious. Whats more, the fact that weather conditions, human interference and natural disasters haven’t altered the shapes of the 900 geoglyphs for more than 2,000 years is rather spectacular in itself especially for the incredibly detailed images like the monkeys long, spiralling tail!