Flying over the Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs that are somewhat an unsolved mystery. The geoglyphs were first discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe who just happened to come across them, on foot, in 1927. At first he thought they were just some random lines. However in the 1930’s, when air traffic increased, the sheer size and scale of the Nazca Lines were discovered and it was found they weren’t random lines at all.
The Nazca Lines were awarded UNESCO Heritage status in 1994.
After chilling in Huacachina for 3 nights, Gen and I hopped (rather blindly – more on that later) on a bus to Nazca to take a flight over the Nazca Lines.
Don’t you hate flying?
I’m actually okay now with most flights, but I hate small planes! I’m not the biggest fan of turbulence and have been known to grab my seat (and occasionally accidentally someones hand) in fear. The fleet that fly over the Nazca Lines only carry up to 10 people. Ours carried 6 in total, including the 2 pilots.
And don’t you get really bad motion sickness?
Uh huh. I can’t even read in a car.
And aren’t you on a strict budget?
… $100 to spend 30-minutes on a small plane that twists and turns?
With poor safety records. I know, and I’d be absolutely lying if I said despite spending $100, I was desperate for the flight to end. That being said here I am, alive and glad I did it! And now I can write about it. See – putting my life and health on the line for you guys. Aren’t I generous?
TIP: take anti-sickness tablets if you have them!! Movil Air provided sick bags on the flight; I didn’t use mine, although it did remain very close to my face for the final 10-minutes of the flight. Apparently I was literally green when I disembarked. And I took anti-sickness tablets!
What even ARE the Nazca Lines?
- The Nazca Lines the collection of ancient (and very mysterious 🔮) etchings carved into the ground of the Nazca Desert – 400km south of Lima, Peru.
- The Nazca Lines were created sometime between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500.
- The Nazca Desert is super dry and sees extremely little rainfall and wind, which why these geoglyphs have remained intact for an estimated 2,000 years or more.
- Most of the geoglyphs are made from a single, continuous line. The largest geoglyph measures at over 300 metres long.
- The Pan American highway cuts through the Nazca lines.
Who made them?
Thats the thing… nobody knows! Maybe it was aliens 👽or maybe it was a ghost 👻, but my theory is in 500 B.C. what else did the Nazca civilisation have to do? They didn’t have phones, they didn’t have books, they didn’t have The Kardashians. Why not draw some massive shapes?
How to arrange the Nazca Lines tour?
There are vendors flogging the Nazca Lines tour all over Huacachina. Some are within hostels, some are even out in the streets.I imagine it’ll be exactly the same if you stay in Nazca – we didn’t as there isn’t much to do in Nazca.
Alternatively you can just book a flight and your bus to Nazca direct online, and then hail a cab to the airport. It is possible to either stay in Nazca just the night before (you can leave late from Ica/Huacachina) or get an early bus to Nazca (it takes 2h from Ica) and then a night bus that very same evening down to Arequipa or across to Cusco. Most vendors will offer somewhere to put your rucksacks and chill after the flight as this is a very common request.
Make sure you ask for a proper receipt and information on which airline you’re flying with and what time you fly! And don’t pay until you’ve researched this airline! Gen and I were lucky as we did NOT do this and of course panicked (well, I ended up panicking) all the way to the airport. We then had a good airline (Movil Air). And, if I’m honest, I panicked until the plane landed safely in one piece.
Who should I fly with?
Movil Air have the best safety records of all the airlines. I’d have refused to board the plane if it were with Nazca Airlines. You can check out safety records on the Aviation Safety Network website – it has a rather handy database.
Try and get an early night as apparently turbulence is much better before 10:30am. If you arrive at the airport too late, flights may be cancelled due to too much wind.
Did you get a flight before 10:30am?
Lol no we flew at 1pm and maybe that is why I felt so sick. We caught one of the final flights. Planes tend to fly until about 2pm.
How much should it cost?
If the package you’re being sold costs under $80 be wary and back away. It is actually illegal to charge under $80 + 30 Soles airport tax; the Peruvian government implemented strict laws regarding pricing following a number of fatalities. This included stricter maintenance regimes on the airplanes and at least 2 pilots on board every flight.
Flying over the Nazca Lines – on the day!
Gen and I had stayed in Huacachina the night before. We boarded a 2h bus with Cruz del Sur for Nazca early that morning, arriving at about 11am.
As we booked through a random man sitting outside our hostel (I didn’t say Gen and I were clever) our airport transfer (miraculously) appeared for us at Nazca bus station. The transfer agreed to keep our rucksacks in the boot of his car whilst we flew above the Nazca Lines. The airport is about 15-minutes in the car from the bus station.
At the airport we paid the airport tax and were weighed. As the planes are extremely small, passengers must be properly distributed for safety reasons. The airlines weigh you at the check in desk. This was confirmed later when Gen tried to hop on the airplane and was told to get back off again as we had specific seats. “I’m sure we all weigh similar!” she said, to which I replied, “Gen I’m not sure the tall gangly man weighs under 60Kg too.”
FYI: if you weigh more than 95Kg or 200lbs, you may have to buy two seats. 😖
After being weight we waited… and waited… and waited…
Every time I had to wait for a Peruvian (or any South American) I found myself saying, “I might die before this finishes.” They operate so slowly. I think it was about an hour and a half before we actually boarded the plane. We even managed to fit in a cheeky documentary on the Nazca Lines; this proved useful because they don’t give you any information up in the air. And even if they did, you’d be too queasy to notice. I really recommend you do your homework on the Nazca Lines ahead of visiting Nazca.
Eventually Gen and I (alongside an Argentinian mother and son duo) boarded the airplane. We met both of the pilots, who were absolute babes and shook all of our hands. I went to the pilot “Tranquilo, por favor!” 😅
The flight is 30-35 minutes in length.
So I’ve heard the ride is quite stomach hurling 🤢. Were you sick 🤮
No!! No I was not. But I sure felt sick. As I mentioned early, never more in my life had I been desperate for a tour to end. The airplane races over the Nazca Lines, bending sharply to the left and right so passengers can get the best view of the lines.
My photos are terrible because I was just desperate to take them, and then continue focussing on my breathing (and NOT throwing up). I promise they look really impressive in real life!!!
The experience was horrific and yet exhilarating at the same time. The pilots would say a LOT more in Spanish (i.e. Hay una ballena a la derecha. Como se puede ver en las curvas de la línea, se estima que tiene aproximadamente 300m de longitud) whereas in English we’d just get the following:
“Now my friends, to the right – whale.”
The pilot would then sharply bank the plane to angle our field of view directly above the whale. “Now! Whale!” he’d repeat, whilst Gen and I scrambled for our phones in both excitement and blind panic. He’d then bank sharply to the left and go, “Left, whale.”
Another reason to do some bedtime reading before or after visiting the Nazca Lines! Thank goodness I speak a little Español.
The pilots did a fantastic job of making us all feel as comfortable as we could (given my motion sickness and fear of small planes). Every so often one of the pilots would turn around and give me a thumbs up 👍to ensure me all was okay. In the end, the flight felt as if it was over before it even started!
Fantastic – so it was worth it – vale la pena 🙌🏼
Sí 😊. Despite all my complaining it was worth every penny. The Nazca Lines really are one of history’s most impressive mysteries and to be given the opportunity to view them from above an experience you’re unlikely to regret – or forget!
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