Fly over the Nazca Lines, Peru – what you need to know

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People from all over Peru consider the Nazca Lines one of the world’s greatest historical mysteries and visit them. Here is everything you need to know if you want to fly over the Nazca Lines.

If you haven’t heard of them before, flying over the Nazca Lines might evoke thoughts of a zip wire and some action-packed adventure. This isn’t the case. The Nazca Lines are carvings in the ground, origins fairly unknown. And the best way to see them is from a light aircraft in the air.


I visited Peru with G Adventures and you can see the tour I took here: Peru: Ancient Cities and the Andes.


What are the Nazca Lines?

Ah! The very first important question, and the truth is, no one really knows. However, the theories surrounding them are fantastic – the range of probability is huge.

It is a unique site, and probably unmatched in the world. In fact scientists are still discovering little bits of new information. People created them between 500 BC and 500 AD by making depressions or shallow incisions in the desert floor, removing pebbles, and leaving different coloured dirt exposed. Three different cultures are believed to have made them at three different periods. The Lines compromise over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant drawings. These are spread over 500 sq km of a dry, rock-strewn plain.

Figures include a huge lizard, a monkey with a curved tail, and a condor. Perhaps the most mysterious of all is the ‘astronaut’. How did people know about this figure, given the age of these lines?

image of the alien as seen if you fly over the Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines – the theories

As mentioned, there are plenty of theories abound surrounding the origins of the Lines. Potentially my favourite is that they were created as landing strips for aliens – this would explain the astronaut! Another theory is that they were in fact made by aliens. A little far-fetched but many do believe it. One of the first theories was that they were astrological and calendrical, as a lot of the lines lined up during the solstice. Many people believe that the different geoglyphs formed a kind of map to observe various different celestial events. The world’s largest calendar!

However today, many believe that they served as some sort of ritual practice for the worship of water. One linked to this suggests the Lines point to sources of water. Given the dry location of them, these theories would make sense, as water would have been a a very important commodity in these times.

The best way to see them? Fly over the Nazca Lines

Without a doubt the best way to see the Lines is from the air, and this means a flight in a light aircraft. You will see photos, but it’s rare these do justice to seeing them with your own eyes. Plus the distance the plane can travel, means you get to see the most, as they are quite spread out.

image of the planes used if you fly over the Nazca Lines

How long is the flight?

How long does it take to fly over the Nazca lines?

There are two options, a 30-minute flight which means you can see 12 of the formations on the ground. The second option is to add on another 10 minutes, and you will be able to see 2-3 more.

Everyone gets a window seat, and the pilot turns to make sure each formation is seen from both sides, hence the length of the flight. But it means you won’t miss any of the carvings.

How much does it cost to fly over the Nazca Lines?

A 30-minute flight should cost you around $70-$80.

Things to know before you fly over the Nazca Lines

Perhaps the most important one, and there is no getting away from this, you are going to need a strong stomach. If you are prone to air sickness – this might not be the experience for you. As mentioned before, the flight turns so that both sides can see them all. But the turns are steep and banked. The plane is small and bumpy, so you notice every bank. Even if you don’t think you are very prone to air sickness, it might be worth taking some tablets before the flight. And maybe don’t eat breakfast before you fly.

Do your research on the airline before flying and don’t choose a flight just based on the price. In 2010 there were accidents which involved fatalities, since then the Peruvian government inspected all the airlines and has now enforced strict policies. The number of incidents has now dropped, but still do your due diligence. The company that I flew with was Movil Air, and this was booked through our tour guide on our G Adventures tour.

There is a weight limit on flights, and while Peruvians are not known for always sticking to the rules this is one they do. The airline asks you to step on the scales before flying, and if you are over 95 kg, it will require you to purchase two seats. So that they are adhering to the weight limit, but not losing out on revenue.

If you don’t fly over the Nazca Lines, can you still see them?

Yes, you can. If you are on a tighter budget or don’t want to take the flight then there is the option to see them from the viewing tower. It is 13 M tall, and from there you can see three of the formations. Mirador de Las Lineas de Nazca sits alongside the Panamericana Sur highway and is about 16 miles northwest of Nazca.

It costs less than $1 to climb, so a much cheaper alternative but doesn’t offer anything like the same viewing experience. From the top of the tower, you can see the Hand and the Trees, as well as the lizard. The first two aren’t the most interesting, and the lizard has had its tail cut off by the highway, and the angle from the tower isn’t the best.

Unfortunately, you can’t see any of the formations from the ground.


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infographic - fly over the Nazca Lines

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