Good for: mystery
- N of Nazca
Lonely Planet review for Nazca Lines
Spread over 500 sq km (310 sq mi) of arid, rock-strewn plain in the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain), the Nazca Lines are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries. Comprising over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures (geoglyphs) and 70 animal and plant drawings (biomorphs), the lines are almost imperceptible on the ground. From above, they form a striking network of stylized figures and channels, many of which radiate from a central axis.
The figures are mostly etched out in single continuous lines, while the encompassing geoglyphs form perfect triangles, rectangles or straight lines running for several kilometers across the desert.
The lines were made by the simple process of removing the dark sun-baked stones from the surface of the desert and piling them up on either side of the lines, thus exposing the lighter, powdery gypsum-laden soil below. The most elaborate designs represent animals, including a huge lizard, a monkey with an extravagantly curled tail, and a condor with a 130m (426ft) wingspan. There's also a hummingbird, spider and an intriguing owl-headed person on a hillside, popularly referred to as an astronaut because of its goldfish-bowl shaped head - though some believe it's a priest with a mystical owl's head.