The Nazca Lines, Peru, also spelt Nasca Lines, are an enigmatic example of ancient South American culture. Dominating the Nazca desert, these geoglyphs have scientists, historians and experts forever intrigued.
Many theories attempt to explain the origins of the Nazca Lines, varying from the wild (aliens did it!) to the more sensible (irrigation). In reality, we’ll likely never know the true meaning of the Líneas de Nazca but the mystery is part of the draw!
Backpackers flock to Peru to see these cryptic creations but there are several ways to see the lines for yourself. Keep reading to learn about the best way to experience the Nazca Lines, depending on your budget!
How to See the Nazca Lines, Peru
Nazca Lines Map and Resources
The Best Way to See the Nazca Lines
Flying over the Nazca Lines in a small plane is undoubtedly the best way to see the geoglyphs. You can only get a true appreciation of these creations from above – which means the people who made them never got to see them in the way we do now!
But hopping on a plane isn’t the cheapest way to go. There is also a viewing tower next to three of the lines and a mountain viewpoint not far from there, so budget-conscious travellers can still get a raised view of the lines, albeit less impressive, without breaking the bank!
How to Fly Over the Nazca Lines, Peru
Flying over the Nazca lines not only gives the best view but also means you get to visit geoglyphs not visible from the viewpoints. The bird’s eye view of each drawing is impressive but when you see the sheer number of lines (over 800 and counting!) stretching away into the distance, it’s astounding!
Choosing a Company to Fly With
As soon as you step off the bus in Nasca, you’ll be hounded by street vendors trying to sell you flights over the lines. Ignore these and arrange a flight yourself – it’ll be cheaper and you’ll have a chance to check reviews and safety records for your flight provider. Sadly, there have been plane crashes and fatalities over the lines, so it’s best to do your research!
Today, flights are safer than they used to be. In 2010, there was a huge government crackdown on companies offering flights over the lines. Many planes were permanently grounded for being unsafe and several companies were forced to close up shop. But, even with the new safety rules in place, accidents can and do still happen. Ensure you research online before paying for a flight.
If possible, get the registration number of the plane you’ll be taken up in. You can plug this into the Aviation Safety Network to see if the plane has a rocky past.
There are several reputable companies offering flights over the Nazca Lines but our favourites are:
- Air Majoro
Cost of a Nazca Lines Flight
Flying over the Nazca Lines will take up a chunk of your allocated budget. In fact, for most backpackers, it may be more than your entire daily budget! Flights range in price from $80-$200USD depending on who you fly with but don’t skimp out. If the cheapest company has poor reviews, it’s better to spend more and stay safe.
While expensive by South American standards, flying over the geoglyphs is money well spent. The experience is excellent and offers a perspective of the lines you can’t achieve any other way.
What to Expect From a Nazca Lines Flight
Tours over the Nazca Lines tend to include pick up and drop off from your accommodation in Nazca, as well as a bilingual pilot and co-pilot, who deliver information on each geoglyph as you pass it.
As you fly over each of the lines, the pilot will bank the plane, so you get a really good view out of the window. You’ll fly past each geoglyph twice, so no matter where you’re sitting in the plane, you’ll get a great view!
Flights tend to range from 20-45 minutes if you fly from Nazca. However, if you fly from elsewhere, flights will be longer and significantly more expensive!
👉 Check Out: Flying Over The Nazca Lines Trip Review 👈
Tips for Flying Over the Nazca Lines
Book In Advance
While you don’t need to book weeks in advance, you shouldn’t wait until the day you want to fly to find a plane. Sure, there’s a chance you’ll get a discounted seat if you wait around at the airport but there’s an even better chance you’ll get no seat at all.
We recommend shopping around a couple of days before you want to fly to ensure you have time to research and arrange your trip properly.
The cheapest flight might not always be the best deal. Always check the safety records of companies flying over the Nazca Lines and pay more if you need to. There’s no point saving yourself a few dollars if you end up being unable to spend them later…
Take Anti-Nausea Medication
The flights can be rough. To get a good view of the lines, your pilot will take you through multiple sharp turns with a lot of banking. If you suffer from motion sickness, pick up some pills and take them before you fly!
You can get them from any pharmacy in South America. It’s worth stocking up too, they’re super useful for long bus or boat journeys!
Don’t Eat Too Much Before You Fly
But don’t skip breakfast. Motion sickness is made worse by having a full or empty stomach. To get the most from your flight, have a light breakfast at least an hour before your flight and take your travel sickness pills if required. The experience will be awful if you spend the whole time holding down vomit rather than appreciating the view!
Make Sure You Have Cash
Paying for your flight in cash is often a powerful bargaining tool when booking your flight. But you also need cash to pay the airport tax before your flight. It costs around 30 soles ($9USD). You won’t be allowed to fly unless you pay it.
How to See the Nazca Lines Without Flying
Although flying over the Nazca lines gives you the best view of the epic geoglyphs, it’s not for everyone. The planes are small and air sickness is common. Plus, the cost is high for most backpackers.
While we recommend flying to anyone wanting to truly appreciate the scale of the lines, there are other options for those wanting to avoid getting in an aircraft. However, you’ll see less and won’t be directly above any of the lines!
The Viewing Tower
Located along the Pan American Highway, around 25 kilometres from Nazca itself, the Nazca Lines viewing tower offers an elevated platform from which you can see three of the geoglyphs – The Tree, The Hands and The Lizard.
It’s worth noting that the Pan American Highway actually cuts straight through the tail of The Lizard, destroying part of the line in the process. While the construction company and Peruvian government claim the road was built before the lines were discovered, thus they did not intentionally destroy part of the line, we’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that claim…
The old viewing tower stood 13 metres tall but a newer tower, located just across the road, is even taller, offering a better vantage point to see the lines. However, because it’s on the other side of the road, the new tower is further from the lines than the old one.
How to Get to the Nazca Lines Viewing Tower
Buses and collectivos running north from Nazca can take you to the viewing tower. It costs around five soles ($1.30USD) and they’ll drop you off right outside. Buses and colectivos leave from the front of the Cruz del Sur bus station in Nazca.
For your return trip, you’ll need to wait on the road for a bus or colectivo heading back to Nazca. Just stick out your arm when you see one coming. The cost should be the same for the return journey.
You can also get a taxi from Nazca to the lines. Expect a one-way trip to cost around 75 soles ($20USD). You can arrange for your taxi to wait and take you back again afterwards.
Finally, there are also tours to the viewing tower available. These vary in price but are around 50-100 soles ($15-$30USD). A Nazca Lines tour to the viewing tower usually includes a stop at the nearby Maria Reiche Museum.
Maria Reiche was a German scientist famous for studying and bringing the lines to the attention of the world. When she died in 1998, her home was turned into a museum and she was buried just outside.
Nazca Lines Viewing Tower Cost
To go up the Nazca Lines viewing tower, you need to pay six soles ($1.60USD). This covers the construction, staffing and maintenance costs of the tower.
The Nazca Lines Mirador is a mile from the viewing tower. It’s little more than a big hill which is free to climb. To get to the Mirador, get off the bus at the viewing towers and follow the trail located on the same side of the road as the old tower. It runs parallel to the Pan American Highway before arriving at the mirador.
Honestly, you can’t see much from the hill – just a few lines and no discernible shape or pattern – but the walk is nice and the views out of the Nazca Desert are fantastic from up there. It feels like an alien world! If you’re up for a short walk in the desert heat, a trip to the mirador is well worth it, even if the view of the lines isn’t that good.
A Brief History of the Nazca Lines
It’s believed that the Nazca lines were created by the Nazca people, who lived in the Nazca region from 200 BCE to around 600 CE. To create the lines, this ancient population removed the top layer of soil and rocks from the desert, revealing the lighter-coloured dirt beneath.
There are varying patterns and designs, including animals, people, plants, geometric shapes and long straight lines stretching for miles.
The original purpose of the lines is a hotly debated topic. Some believe they were for communicating with extraterrestrials. A few tin foil hat-wearing ‘experts’ even claim they’re landing strips for alien spacecraft! Less fantastical explanations lean towards a spiritual practice for communicating with the gods – which, if you’re into that kind of thing, could be aliens…
Early theories that the geoglyphs aligned with astronomical events have been disproven over the years. Some people also suggest the lines may have been intricate irrigation systems, which considering the desert gets only 4mm of rain a year, would’ve been useful. Plus, what better way to grow crops than with a field in the shape of a condor…
Regardless of their purpose, the Nazca Lines capture the curiosity and admiration of travellers visiting Peru. They’re a testament to the ancient civilisation’s artistic skills, technical prowess, and deep connection with their environment. Exploring the Nazca Lines offers a connection to an ancient civilisation that’s hard to achieve elsewhere.
Visiting the Nazca Lines – A Round-Up
If you want to add the Nazca Lines to your Peru itinerary, you won’t be disappointed! Getting to the lines is easiest from the town of Nazca and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. While flying offers the best view of the lines, it’s expensive by Peruvian standards. However, it’s still much cheaper than getting a 30-minute flight in your home country!
If your budget doesn’t stretch to a flight, it’s still worth heading to the viewing tower and free mirador. The combined cost of getting a bus, climbing the tower, visiting the mirador and returning to Nazca on the bus, is much less than the cost of a flight. Expect to pay around 30-50 soles ($8-$15USD) for the day out.