My luck was in today. I paid for a 35 minute scenic flight over the Nazca Lines, but got the one hour flight over the Nazca and Palpa Lines instead (one of the occasional benefits of travelling on your own; they had a group of three for the longer flight, so I filled the plane up).
One thing you don’t really get an impression of from pictures in books is that the whole area is covered in various intersecting lines. The book I read on the plane on the way here described it as being like a big blackboard, with things half rubbed off, new drawings partially covering old ones etc.
Some of the figures were quite hard to spot (it all depended on the thickness of the lines etched into the reddish surface layer. If the lines are thin you only really manage to pick the figure out when you’re right on top of it). taking photos was difficult as the figures don’t appear at all on your camera screen, so you just have to point the camera in vaguely the right direction and hope for the best.
I didn’t get any more insight into the purpose of the lines. Theories include
1) alignment with astronomical objects (which seems to now be pretty much discounted)
2) they have some religious purpose probably connected to water, harvests etc. The Nazca people seem to have been very musical (lots of bone instruments etc have been found) so they may have used the lines a the focus of big processions / festivals. Fair enough for the big lines but I’m not sure how this accounts for the small figures like Man with Hat.
3) they were built by aliens (not so far fetched as the driver who took me to Caral the other week did tell me with great confidence that he and many other Peruvians believe that Macchu Picchu was built by aliens. The stonework is apparently too good and the Incas weren’t that bright). Maybe Nazca was the main saucerport whilst such constructions were going on, and the aliens doodled the figures to pass the time while waiting for flights? The main thing I don’t understand about the aliens hypothesis is that as far as I’m aware flying saucers don’t require runways?
Anyway, here are some pics….
View from the plane crossing the valley to get to the desert area where the lines are:
The Astronaut (centre left):
The Tree and the Hands (near a tower from which you can view them from the ground):
A Bird (partially covered by one of the geometric shapes that, it has been suggested in the past, are alien landing strips):
A Hummingbird (one of the easiest ones to see):
Some geometric shapes:
This was described as the Solar Calendar:
Some more alien landing strips:
MY FAVOURITE! Man with Hat:
A Mushroom or a Tumi (ceremonial knife):
Finally, on the way back to the airport we flew over the aqueducts (the photo shows entrances). They haven’t been investigated yet and no-one seems exactly sure when they were built….