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How To See The Nazca Lines In Peru

It’s another one of those bucket list things that you just have to do. Even if you hate flying. Even if you get air sick. Even if you just spent an evening reading all the news articles of planes which had recently crashed over the Nazca lines killing everyone on board. It’s just one of those things.

Not going to say I didn’t have a small panic attack first though.

How to see the Nazca Lines in Peru

You may have read our recent post about traveling from Cusco to Huacachina and how to do it safely. Haucachina is a beautiful little tourist enclave around a lagoon and surrounded by majestic sand dunes. But that wasn’t the reason why I spent so much time getting us from one side of Peru to the other. The reason for the effort was the Nazca lines. So, how to do you see the Nazca lines?

There are two ways that you can see the Nazca lines; from the air, or from a viewing platform. If you choose the viewing platform you need to drive quite a distance from Huacachina and then you can only really see one or two of the lines – and not even the most famous ones. They really are meant to be seen from the air – that is the reason the ancient Nazca culture created them right? As a homage to their gods (or aliens, or whatever), they certainly did not create these massive etchings in the desert for their own enjoyment. In fact, the existence of the lines was forgotten until flights started to operate in this area. They are so indistinguishable from land that a highway was even constructed through one of them.

So we chose the flying option. But wait – there are another two options. You can either fly out of Nazca airport, or from Ica airport. The Nazca option is the cheapest. You take a bus from Huacachina to Nazca airport (2 – 3 hours depending on traffic), go up for your 40 minute flight, and then bus home again. It ends up being a pretty full day, as you may end up waiting some time at the airport as well, but it will save you about $100.

Read more: What to do in Huacachina

The quicker option is to fly out of Ica airport. It’s a smaller airport that houses for the most part private planes and helicopters, and it’s where people go for their flight training courses for the most part.

With this option you only need to take a taxi to the airport (20 minutes), and then you go up for a 1.5 hour flight (additional time to get from Ica to the Nazca line site), then you taxi home again. This option however is more expensive.

We were definitely not going to take a baby and a 4 year old up on one of the little airplanes – no matter what their safety record was. So Simon and I decided to split up our time and visit the lines separately. Simon went first. It was his job to suss out the air sickness and death probabilities. He survived. Simon went via Nazca airport and went up in one of the smaller planes – a little 4 seater plane.

He reported back that it wasn’t too bad – some people got sick, but the g force wasn’t too bad. Ok so. I can do it, right? It’s just the whole crashing and burning thing I need to worry about.

After much talking, worrying, and hyperventilating, I decided I had to do it. I mean, we had come all the way to Huacachina from Australia right? So on our last day in town I decided to do it. I couldn’t be away from Z for more than 2 – 3 hours since he is still breastfed, so I decided to spend the money and do my flight out of Ica. I also requested one of the 12 seater planes which are slightly more stable than the smaller ones.

When it came time to depart I got in a taxi which the travel agent had organized and went off to Ica airport. Ica airport has two counters – one for each company which operates Nazca flights, and there were two planes on the tarmac. After getting weighed (I had lost some weight too, yay!), I was given my boarding pass (which I took a photo of so that if I crashed that Simon would know which seat to find my remains in) I was sent to a small room where they were playing a documentary about the lines. Before the film was over (boo! It was interesting!) we were ushered to start the boarding process. We were given some safety briefings and then we boarded. We had been assigned seats according to weight, and luckily I was assigned one of the seats above the wing which is probably the more stable part of the plane.

And then we took off. The plane ride wasn’t that bad. There were a few points, yes, where my stomach rose into my throat. But generally it was OK. The plane did do some tight twists and turns to allow everyone on both sides of the plane to have an equal opportunity to see each line, and that was probably the worst of it. Although I must say, by the end of it, I was keeping my eyes firmly on the horizon and counting down the minutes until landing.

So did I puke?

NO! Half of the plane did though, so I was one of the lucky six who didn’t.

Safety standards have been improving in Peru due to some of the Nazca crashes in recent years, but things can change quickly here. I recommend doing your own research before getting on a Nazca line plane. But if you do decide to do it, the views are pretty incredible. Just what compelled these ancient people to etch lines into the desert? Hopefully some day we will know.

Read more: Two days in Lima

Read more: How to put together the ultimate Peru itinerary

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