Nazca lines flyover
This morning, we arrived in Nazca from Arequipa, and went straight to the little airfield just outside of the city, to do a flight over the famous "Nazca Lines". This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Peru: enormous lines that an ancient civilisation dug into the desert ground, and that are in the shapes of animals and of geometric figures, when seen from the air. As with many other tourists, my verdict for the Nazca Lines was not amazing: too expensive; hard to see the lines; and a really nauseating flight, in a teeny old plane with a crazy pilot. Something to tick off the list, but definitely not the highlight of my trip.
Chris and I pulled in to the Nazca bus station at the ung-dly hour of 5:30am this morning, not particularly refreshed from our 9-hour night trip. We stumbled off the bus, waded through the usual cacophony of "¿taxi, amigo?", and got out on the street. We wanted to just get a ride to the city centre, and to have a look around for the best deal on a morning flight; but our taxi driver — and a salesman at the bus station — convinced us that nothing would be open in the city for another 2 hours, and that it would be better to go straight to this salesman's office in the airfield. We weren't too happy about being forced to not shop around; but it seemed that we didn't have much choice, so off we went.
We got to the office of aeroparacas — one of the "airlines" that operates the tinpot Cessnas that fly over the Nazca Lines — which is across the road from the airfield itself. We agreed to their price of $USD60 per person, for a 40-minute flight (which is fairly reasonable: people pay between $40 and $80 for a flight, depending on the quality of the company, and high/low season times), and then crashed in their lounge room, at the back of the office.
As it turned out, we were hanging around and waiting to go up in the air until 11am. Apparently, the weather had been too foggy for a good flight yesterday — so they had a large backlog of people that had hung around for another try today, and that had priority over us. There were also seemingly endless tourgroups that turned up, and that seemed to also have priority over us, simply because their tourguides had yichus with the airlines. Anyway, we finally made it into one of the Cessnas, and our party of six (including the pilot) took off.
Getting into the tinpot Cessna.
The flight itself was pretty crazy. During the 40-minute tour, we were shown a great many of the famous ancient lines that the Nazcans of old created on the desert floor. They're pretty hard to see — good luck deciphering these pics:
Lines forming giant trapezoids.
The famous "colibri" (hummingbird).
Another colibri shot.
I'm not too good with motion-sickness at the best of times; and this flight was definitely not the best of times. Every time we flew over a figure, the pilot would bank the plane really sharply to the right, and call out "see the monkey, to the right"; then he'd abruptly bank all the way to the left, and call out "and now for the people on the left". Yeah, thanks mate! Awgghhh... I came pretty close to using the little brown bag a few times — but somehow, I made it through the flight without throwing up. From what I've heard, I did better than a lot of other people.
What's more, the figures aren't that spectacular, either. You really have to look hard in order to see most of them; and getting good photos of them is harder still. There are all sorts of crazy theories, about how they're "irrevocable proof of extra-terrestrial contact in ancient civilisations — why else would they make figures that make sense only when seen from the air?" — but really, I doubt that aliens would be able to make them out, any better than us poor, nauseated tourists can. There are certainly more spectacular things to see in Peru.
Anyway, we made it back down in one piece; and after a quick rest at the Aeroparacas office, we headed back to the Nazca bus station, had a bite to eat, and jumped on a bus to Ica. There isn't anything else to do in Nazca, really — and the city itself is nothing special — so, having done the flight over the lines this morning, there was nothing stopping us from continuing right on in our travels, without even stopping in Nazca for the night.