Nazca Tourist Attractions
Nazca lies on the arid flats, inland from the coast, along the Pan-American Highway. It would be just another town of little significance if not for the famous Nazca Lines.There are a few sights and activities to take advantage of in and around Nazca. The Museo Didattico Antonini offers information on the Nazca culture and local sites, particularly Cahuachi. The nearby Cemetery of Chauchilla contains Nazca remains and mummies. Just outside of town is the Paredone's ruins and the Cantallo aqueducts which are still used to irrigate fields in the area. All of these sites have small admission fees.
Nazca Lines (Nasca Lines)
The Nazca lines were relatively undiscovered until planes flying over the desert in the 1920s saw the lines from the air. Until that time there was some recognition of the hillside drawings near Nazca and Paracas, which can be seen from ground level. However, the huge drawings on the flat desert floor are so large that it requires an aerial view to be appreciated.From the air it is possible to see 70 different plant and animal drawings as well as hundreds of lines and other geometrical shapes. Some of these lines stretch as long as 10 km. The drawings are spread over hundreds of square kilometers. Most notable among the figures are a lizard measuring 180 m / 580 ft long, condor with a 130 m / 419 ft wingspan, monkey, spider, hummingbird, killer whale, and spider.Although it is not known exactly who created the lines or how and why, theories hold that the lines were the product of the Paracas and Nazca cultures sometime between 900 BC and 600 AD. Why they were created is the subject of much debate. Some of the theories put forward suggest the lines were a type of astronomical calendar for agriculture, an alien landing pad, a running track, walkways joining ceremonial sites, or part of a water cult.The lines were created by removing the dark surface layer of stones and piling them at the sides of the lines, creating a contrast between the dark stones and the exposed lighter soil below. To be fully appreciated the lines must be viewed from the air. Flights can be booked in advance or on a walk-in, first come first serve basis.
Cantalloc Aqueducts (Cantayoc Aqueducts)
Just outside of Nazca, approximately 4 km / 2.5 mi, are the Cantalloc Aqueducts. Built around 300 to 600 AD, the aqueducts were designed to provide a year round water source for the area. The aqueducts conduct water from the mountain springs down to Nazca by means of underground canals. These canals, 36 in total, are S-shaped to allow the water to travel slower during periods of heavy rain. Some of the Cantalloc Aqueducts are still used by farmers in the area.The Inca ruins of Paredones are nearby and usually visited in conjunction with a visit to the Cantalloc Aqueducts. These ruins are not well preserved and warrant only a short visit.