Things to Do in Nazca Peru

Most travelers believe that the only attraction in the vast Peruvian desert are the famous Nazca Lines. However, there’s so much to know about this ancient civilization that everything in this region sums up to that.

The Nazca city might be small but it comprises a great part of our ancestors’ history and extensive knowledge. It is certainly one of the most important regions in the country since the ancient Nazca culture paved the way to succeeding civilizations.

Nowadays, you can get to know much more about them, including their beliefs, rituals, way of living and even engineering abilities. If you’re looking for something totally unique to do before heading to Machu Picchu, this could be the right place for you!

1. Fly over the Nazca Lines

The Nazca lines are a group of over 1,100 geoglyphs located in the Nazca Pampas created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. These ancient geoglyphs are a riddle yet to be solved but certainly a wonder of the ancient world that has left us totally intrigued and captivated.

The enormous figures have remained a mystery though being studied for over 80 years. However, as new research is carried out on the site, new information has come to surface, allowing us to understand a bit more of this enigmatic archeological site.

The Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture and though there are tons of  hypotheses ranging from its use as an astronomical calendar to a landing site of an extraterrestrial spacecraft, the site could have been used for ceremonial purposes.

Some of the Nazca Lines extend to over 350 meters, as others are as large as 5 meters long. Among the most recognized are the killer whale, the monkey, the astronaut, the hummingbird, the condor, and the spider. 

Currently, the only way to fully appreciate these enormous geoglyphs is by taking a flight over the Nazca lines, which takes about 35 minutes in total but allows you to see the most well-preserved figures from above the clouds.

2. Discover the Cantalloc Aqueducts

Although one may think that the Nazca people only left the giant geoglyphs before disappearing, they actually were responsible for several structures around the region. The Cantalloc Aqueducts, for example, represent the extensive engineering knowledge of this ancient civilization.

These are a series of 45 aqueducts found 4 kilometers away from the city of Nazca, and around 35 of them are still functioning. The aqueducts were built in a spiral shape, some of them can reach 12 meters of depth and are structured with a water resistant wood extracted from an endemic tree of the area called ‘Huarango.’

The Cantalloc Aqueducts were used to guarantee the water supply to the land crops of the ancient Nazca farmers, where they used to cultivate corn, cotton, potatoes, and even more vegetables and plant species

These examples of Nazca hydraulic engineering are located 450 kilometers away from Lima, but only 15 minutes away from Nazca. You can combine the visit to this archeological site with the flight over the Nazca lines so you don’t miss anything during your stay in the Peruvian desert.

3. Visit the Museo Maria Reiche

Also known as la Casa Museo Maria Reiche, it’s located 27 kilometers from the city of Nazca and exhibits the research work carried out by this famous historian and archeologist. Maria Reiche dedicated over 50 years of her life to the understanding of the Nazca Lines. 

Thanks to her hard work, she raised awareness to the preservation of these ancient geoglyphs. Her research and impact in the archeology world made possible the recognition of the Nazca lines as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994

Nowadays, a great part of her studies in the arid desert of Peru are exhibited in her house, now the headquarters of the museum that was opened in her honor. 

The Maria Reiche Museum holds all the information and documentation gathered from the research made by Reiche, along with maps, planes, pictures, mummies and archeological artifacts. It is located in the 421,3 km of the Panamericana Sur highway. 

4. Explore the Chauchilla Cementery

A burial place was found 30 kilometers away from the Nazca city, where several archeological artifacts and mummies were buried in a fetal position, covered in embroidered cotton and painted with some type of resin that helped the preservation of the bodies. 

These mud-brick tombs date back to 200 A.D. and are attributed to the Nazca people, though some archeologists think they may be from the ancient Huari culture. However, this last theory couldn’t be confirmed due to lack of evidence. 

The Chauchilla Cemetery is recognized for holding a system of open-sky tombs. Unfortunately, little is known of this burial site since most of the relics were stolen by grave robbers. 

According to some archeologists, the site dates back to over 1,200 years ago, something incredibly astonishing since the mummies have preserved part of their skin, hair and bones throughout these years.

The burial place is located in the Nazca region, 30 minutes away from the city of Nazca to be exact. If you’d like to visit this place, we have structured the Chauchilla Cemetery Private Tour so you can experience it at its fullest.

5. Discover the Cahuachi Archeological Site

The ancient structure of Cahuachi dates back to the 1st century. It is located in the Nazca river valley, 28 kilometers away from the main city. It was also built by the Nazca civilization and served as a ceremonial center. 

Thanks to the hard work of many archeologists, different artifacts were found in this construction, where textiles and clothes stand out due to their complexity, patterns, and colors. Apparently, the place was a site of pilgrimage, worship and burial. Although a great part of these structures remain buried in the desert, it is known that the ceremonial center spread to cover over 150 ha.

The arid climate in the Nazca desert made possible the conservation of many archeological artifacts and mummies. However, Cahuachi was exposed to grave robbers for a long time and most of the precious items were looted.

Historians believe that the site lost its sacred power and credibility due to constant earthquakes and floods. The entire place was deliberately buried in the desert by the Nazca people before completely abandoning the site. 

Despite the site being systematically covered with earth and the desertion of the site was planned and deliberate, Cahuachi continued receiving offerings and burials for centuries after, meaning that local people still considered the place sacred even after the Nazca culture disappeared.

The Nazca People have certainly marked this region, leaving many riddles yet to be solved. Although most visitors are mainly attracted by the Nazca lines, the aforementioned attractions are another reason to stay there in case you’d like to know more about this famous civilization.

Would you like to uncover the mysteries of Peru? Check our travel packages and start planning the trip of your life while you’re here. Our travel specialists can help you organize the best trip itinerary while optimizing  your time and experience according to your interests!

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