When you travel to Peru, there’s much more to see than just Cusco and Machu Picchu; this millenarian land has many treasures waiting for you to discover them, like the Ica Region (2 hours South of Lima, Peru’s Capital City) and the amazing Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are a series of the most outstanding ancient geoglyphs in the world that are located in the Pampa region of Southern Peru in the Nazca Desert between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, just a few hours from Lima by car/bus. They were first discovered in the 1920’s, when commercial airlines began flying across the Peruvian Desert and the passengers reported that they saw strange strips on the ground, so the investigation began and the Nazca Lines were founded.
They are thought to have been created by the people of Nazca somewhere between 400 AD and 700 AD, but to this day, it is not clear why and how they were constructed. There are still many questions being asked; are they drawings of animal gods, or maybe a huge map? How did they construct these precise geoglyphs with very basic equipment? Whoever they were constructed by and why, still defies explanation and is a mystery to all who search for the answers.
The Nazca Lines are made up of hundreds of figures that range from just simple lines to things such as:
– The Killer Whale (65 metres long)
– The Hummingbird (50 metres long)
– The Guanay or Guano bird (280 metres long)
– The Monkey (55 metres long)
– The Pelican, which is largest of the Nazca Lines at 285 metres long
The Nazca Lines are only fully visible from the air due to their impressive size, so to have the full experience you need to go in a plane or helicopter. It is important that you use a reputable airline company. There’s also a small tower, by the desert where you can get a glimpse of the full scope.
As well as flying over the Nazca Lines, you can also visit other interesting parts in this region of Peru.
Ica is the capital city of the Ica region and is also known as the ‘Land of the Sun’ due to its warm and sunny climate all year round. Ica is famous mainly due to being the birth place of Peru’s national drink, Pisco (an alcoholic drink distilled from grapes and very similar in some ways to Italian grappa). Be sure to look around one of the many traditional Peruvian wineries, including the popular Viste Alegre where they produce different varieties of Peruvian Pisco and wines. You can also visit the Museo Regional de Ica (Regional Museum of Ica), which exhibits a range of prehistoric artifacts from the Spanish Colonial era.
Nearby Ica, is the small village in the desert called Huacachina. There are only just over 100 inhabitants here, but it has proved to be a great tourist attraction. The village is built around a small lake/oasis called the ‘Oasis of America’. In this area tourists can do activities such as, sand boarding down the dunes or racing around the dunes in a dune buggy.
Pisco is a city located in the Ica region. The Spanish “Conquistadores” (conquerors) were going to make Pisco the capital of Peru due to its ease of access, but they later decided on Lima. The main tourist attractions are the Chincha Islands where there are many birds and animals, including penguins, Peruvian boobies, pelicans, sea lions, whales, turtles and dolphins. The Paracas National Reserve has a wide variety of birds and marine animals. You can take a boat tour that takes you close to the Ballestas Islands (Islas Ballestas), which are a group of protected islands that are part of this natural reserve that people are not allowed to set foot on. Another attraction is the Paracas Candelabro, which is a large geoglyph of around 595 feet in length. They are not sure what it represents, but it has been suggested that it is a representation of the God Viracocha and a lightning rod.
Cachiche is a small village that is known for being the ancient home of many witches and for its witchcraft. During the time of the Spanish Inquisition there were women living in Ica who were accused of being witches and they were consequently hunted down. The witches managed to escape to Lima, but were not wanted there either, so they eventually settled down in this part of the desert called Cachiche. One of the main attractions is the palm tree in the centre of the village that is no longer standing, but it is growing and crawling along the ground. According to history, the tree appears like this due to rituals being performed by witches nearby.