Peru 11: Reserva Naçional de Paracas and the Nasca Lines

Although the coastal area of Peru is mainly desert, we found a visit to the Paracas National Park attractive as it reminded us of our home country, Namibia. Having a closer look at the mysterious Nasca lines reminded us of books of Erich von Däniken we had read many years ago. So we decided to have a closer look.

Ein Flug über die Nazca Linien klang reizvoll. Hatten wir doch über die von Däniken Theorien gelesen, dass diese Linien und Geoglyphen für oder von ausseridischen Wesen stammen könnten.

The PanAm Sur to San Vicente de Cañete is a good stretch of highway with many holiday developments along it. It is close enough to Lima to be conveniently reached for weekends.

Past Chincha Alta we briefly stopped in the town of Pisco. This area was hit by an earthquake during 2007 but most is reconstructed. The famous Pisco liqueur is distilled in this area and shops along the road offer many variants of it.

We turned off  into the Reserva Naçional de Paracas, then visited the small natural history museum past the entrance gate before exploring the coastal desert park itself.

After some calamari at La Tia Pili in Lagunillas (a fishing village in the park) we camped near Playa de la Mina on the parking area – all new toilets had been built at various places in the park, but the water was not yet connected. We spent a cold and quiet night with many Inca terns and Peruvian Boobies breeding in the sand cliffs nearby.

Next day we toured through the park, realised that entry to the harbour Puerto General San Martini is no longer possible (mining export?), then enjoyed the beautiful dark red beach at Playa Roja, drove past “La Catedral” a natural formation near Playa Yumague.

We camped at Mendieta Playa meeting Christian and Sarah from Austria who were enjoying kayaking around the formations. The fishermen left at sunset and we had this wonderful spot to ourselves and it was a good time to observe Royal Terns and both, the American as well as the Blackish Oystercatchers.

Early morning we walked up the cliffs and had a wonderful view of the rock formations and observed breeding Peruvian Boobies, Red-legged Cormorants, Black skimmers and red-headed Turkey Vultures.

Mid morning we decided to proceed down to Laguna Grande, a fisher settlement and then took a path through the dunes eastwards back to the PanAm. The area was desolated and incredibly barren but scenic.

Past Guadalupe we reached Ica where we turned off to Laguna de Huacachina with plenty dune buggies racing on very high dunes – adrenalin galore for the visitors. The laguna itself looked rather dull and polluted.

As we drove further south on the PanAm Sur we passed the viewing tower which we ascended to have a view of the three Nasca line formations that can be seen, albeit not very well. They were supposed to be the hands, the lizard and the tree. We could really only make out the hands(but had a good view from the air next day).

Reaching Nasca we made a flight reservation for early morning and then put up our camp at Hotel San Marcelo, negotiated the use of a bathroom and enjoyed their pool.

Next morning we left early to the Nasca airport and took the flight across many of the Nasca formations.The arid area is colourful from the air, Nazca itself not the most beautiful town. The first geoglyph we identified was the whale.

Besides the many geometric figures and lines, which reminded us of landing strokes and signage for alien craft visiting ( although apparently used by the Nazca for rituals praying for rain) we could clearly make out the “Astronaut” figure cut into a hill side and the large monkey geoglyph.

Other animal figures included the hummingbird, Condor and spider.

It was a rough flight but worth getting a proper overview on the extend of the many geoglyphs,lines and symbols drawn into the landscape at Nazca and we could not but wonder, how they were made without an aerial view at the time, as they are really only clearly recognisable from the air. As we returned we had a glimpse of excavations dating back to the Nazca people and the entry points of the Cantalloc aquaducts built by the Nazca.

This post cover the period 14th to 17th December 2016