As you are flying over the Nazca desert in Peru, suddenly you start noticing hundreds of endless straight lines carved into the ground, criss-crossing each other. So straight as if someone had drawn these with a ruler.

The Nazca Lines in Peru are one of the biggest mysteries of humankind. Little is known about their creation and many myths circle among scientists about why the ancient Nazca people carved shapes into the ground that can only be seen from a birds-eye perspective.

In this Nazca Travel Guide, we take you around the sights of Nazca and tell you everything you need to know for your own trip to this little Peruvian outpost.

Nazca Travel Guide: Nazca Lines (Monkey)

What is special about Nazca Lines?

The Nazca Lines are hundreds of lines and oversized drawings scratched into the dry soil of the Nazca desert. The figures include different geometric shapes and lines, with the most striking ones depicting symbols of animals and plants.

Scientists believe that the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca people more than 1500 years ago. They crafted these lines by removing the top layer of reddish soil, thereby revealing the yellow-greyish clay underneath, which created the contrast for the figures. These lines have been preserved for centuries, thanks to the dry and windless climate in Nazca.

Nevertheless, one question remains a mystery: Why did the Nazca people create these hundreds of lines, with some stretching over 135 meters (443 feet)? There are many theories, but no definitive answers. Some speculate that the Nazca people used the lines to communicate with those passing through the desert, while others believe that they may have been a plea to the gods for rain.

Regardless of the reasons behind the actions of the Nazca people, one thing is clear: the Nazca Lines represent not only a cultural world heritage but also an exceptional masterpiece of art.

What is the best way to see the Nazca Lines?

Once you are in Nazca, there are two ways to view the Nazca Lines. You can either observe the mysterious figures from two observation decks or book a short flight. Taking a plane is undoubtedly the better option, as the view from the observation decks is limited to only a few figures (the Hands, the Tree and the Lizard), and you won’t see them in their entirety, in contrast to having a bird’s-eye view from above.

The two observation decks can be visited every day from 8:00 am. to 6:00 pm. by taking a short taxi ride from Nazca. The entrance costs 6 PEN (≈ 2 USD). Both observation decks are located next to each other, so there is not much walking required.

Nazca Travel Guide: Two Observation Towers offering views over Nazca Lines

If you fly over the Nazca Desert, you will have the opportunity to see around a dozen of the most famous Nazca Lines, including the Hummingbird, Spider, Lizard, Condor, Parrot, Monkey, and even an Astronaut. As you pass by these figures, the pilot will tilt the airplane left and right so that everyone can have a good view of the Nazca Lines. Be aware though, that the airplanes are small, and the ride can be quite bumpy. But it is truly worth it.

You can book flights of different durations, with the most popular option being a 35-minute flight. It is recommend taking a flight in the morning when weather conditions are most reliable and there is less wind. Be prepared to remain flexible, in case your flight cannot take place on the chosen day and has to be postponed.

If you decide to fly over the Nazca lines, make sure you don’t eat breakfast and consider taking some pills against motion sickness and nausea. Flights are quite demanding on your stomach, especially when looking through a camera lens when flying.

Nazca Travel Guide: Planes flying over Nazca Lines
Nazca Travel Guide: Map of the Nazca Lines

How to book a Nazca Lines flight?

There are over ten flight operators in Nazca all offering the same tour over the famous Nazca Lines. You can book your tickets online, but we recommend doing it once in Nazca as the prices are much cheaper. You can ask for the tour in your hotel, at a tour operator‘s office or take a taxi to the airport on your own and buy a ticket there. Be aware that you may have to wait for the next free flight in case of the last option.

Our hotel offered the tour at the cheapest price so we found this option to be the most convenient one. It also ensured us place on the earliest flight as we wanted to head to Arequipa in the afternoon.

The flights take place between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. You can choose between tours of 35-60 minutes, showing you over 13 different figures. The ticket costs 65-120 USD payable in cash or by card, plus the airport taxes and a tourist ticket of 77 PEN (≈ 21 USD) to be paid in cash upon arrival.

Don’t forget to bring your original passport for the flight. As it is the case for all airports, also in Nazca, you must go through a security check.

Huacachina Travel Guide: Viewing the Nazca Lines from a Private Plane (Cessna)
Huacachina Travel Guide: Nazca Lines (Spider)
Huacachina Travel Guide: Nazca Lines (Colibri)

What else to see in Nazca?

Most of the tourists only come to Nazca to see the famous lines and often continue their trip already in the afternoon. The town itself is definitely not worthwhile to stay for longer.

Though there are a few attractions worth visiting around Nazca. It’s possible to explore the majority of these tourist sights in a single day. Just make sure to take your flight as the first thing in the morning.

1. Cantalloc Aqueducts

The Cantalloc Aqueducts were crafted by the ancient Nazca civilization over 1,500 years ago. The tunnels were used to bring water to dry desert areas to grow crops. It demonstrates how well the Nazca people were adapted to live in this unforgiving environment. These tunnels are known for their unique spiral and zigzag shapes. Some of these tunnels still function today and are used by the local farmers.

The Cantalloc Aqueducts are about 4 km (2 miles) southeast of Nazca. You can take a taxi go get there. There are also tours available, lasting for 2,5 hours, which is recommended to get more background information about these masterpieces. The entrance costs 10 PEN (≈ 3 USD) and you can also visit Los Paredones with the ticket. You can also see the aqueducts when flying over the Nazca lines, just before the landing.

Nazca Travel Guide: Cantalloc Aqueducts

2. Chauchilla Cemetery

Chauchilla Cemetery is an archeological site in the middle of the Nazca desert that offers a glimpse into the burial practices of the Nazca culture. Dating back over a thousand years, it exhibits well-preserved mummies, wrapped in colorful textiles and some even still having hair and visible tattoos. You can also see several funerary objects, such as pottery, showcasing the sophisticated art of this ancient civilization.

Chauchilla Cemetery is about 30 km (19 miles) south of Nazca. Make sure to hire a guide, and not just a taxi driver, if visiting this place to learn more about the Nazca culture and entombment practices.

3. Los Paredones (The Walls)

The ruins of Los Paredones, often referred to as “The Walls”, are believed to have served as an administrative and ceremonial center for the ancient Nazca civilization. The archaeological site displays remains of a central plaza and buildings which were used for administrative, ceremonial, and residential purposes. The most spectacular about this place are the well-preserved polished adobe walls that demonstrate the Nazca people’s impressive construction skills.

Los Paredones is about 2 km (1 miles) from the Plaza de Armas of Nazca. You can take a taxi there but it is also reachable on foot. The entrance costs 10 PEN (≈ 3 USD) and also allows to visit the Cantalloc Aqueducts.

Nazca Travel Guide: Los Paredones (The Walls)

4. Cahuachi Temple

Cahuachi is an ancient religious and ceremonial center wich was created between 1 until 500 AD. The temple consists of a towering adobe pyramids, the largest being 150 meters (492 feet) long and 28 meters (92 feet) tall, extensive plazas, platforms, and underground chambers.

It is believed to have been a central hub for the Nazca culture’s spiritual activities, possibly linked to the renowned Nazca Lines. The purpose of the site and the reasons behind its sudden abandonment still remain unknown.

How to get to Nazca?

The airport in Nazca is mainly used for the flights over the Nazca Lines. Therefore, the only way to get to Nazca is by bus. The good news is that there are many buses passing through Nazca every day.

We recommend booking your tickets in advance online with Civa or with Cruz del Sur which have the most modern buses and a good safety record.

Nazca Travel Guide: View over Nazca town

From Lima to Nazca by bus

It’s a long ride from Lima to Nazca, lasting over 7 hours. If you are on a tight schedule and cannot stop in the beautiful costal town Paracas or unique desert oasis
on your way, we recommend taking one of the afternoon buses from Lima, spend the night in Nazca, take the flight early in the morning and head back to Lima in the afternoon. This short day trip can be pretty exhausting but definitely worth it.

The bus tickets from Lima to Nazca cost between 60 PEN (≈ 16 USD) – 120 PEN (≈ 32 USD), depending on which bus agency you choose and for how much comfort you want to pay.

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From Paracas to Nazca by bus

Only Cruz del Sur operates between Paracas and Nazca. There are a few buses leaving from Paracas, so make sure to plan your travels and book the tickets in advance to secure the best seats.

The drive from Paracas to Nazca lasts 4 hours and tickets cost between 40 PEN (≈ 11 USD) – 50 PEN (≈ 13 USD), depending on which comfort level you choose.

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From Huacachina to Nazca by bus

To get from Huacachina to Nazca you first have to take a taxi to Ica. It is only 15 minutes drive and costs between 10 PEN (≈ 3 USD) – 15 PEN (≈ 4 USD). From Ica there are several buses leaving to Nazca.

The bus ticket from Ica to Nazca costs 30 PEN (≈ 8 USD) – 50 PEN (≈ 13 USD) and the journey takes about 3 hours.

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From Arequipa to Nazca by bus

Nazca is 10 hours from Arequipa and many tourists choose the night bus to get to the desert town. In that case you can plan to do your flight over Nazca lines directly in the morning when you arrive. There are also a few buses leaving in the early afternoon from Arequipa in case you prefer not to travel in the night and get a good night sleep in a bed.

A bus ticket cots between 60 PEN (≈ 16 USD) – 120 PEN (≈ 32 USD). In case you choose to travel by a night bus, paying a few soles more for seats that can recline 160 degrees can be a good idea for additional comfort.

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Where to stay in Nazca?

Nazca is a rather small town and the accommodation options are rather limited. If you plan to stay in Nazca for more than one night, try to look for an accommodation with a pool as a refreshing dip will do good after a long day in the desert.

Where to eat in Nazca?

Although many tourists come to Nazca, they usually do not stay for very long. This is also the reason why the culinary scene here is rather underdeveloped compared to other cities like Lima, Arequipa and Cusco which offer world-class restaurants. Here are some of the restaurants we can recommend when staying in the town.

Nazca Travel Guide: Where to eat?
Nazca Travel Guide: Where to eat?

When is the best time to visit Nazca?

Nazca is located in one of the driest regions in the world, where rainfall is extremely rare. This is also the reason why the lines have been so well preserved over 1500 years.

The best time to visit Nazca is in the winter, which runs from December to March. During this time, the weather is warm and the skies are clear which makes it ideal for flying over the Nazca Lines. But also the shoulder seasons (April to May and September to November) are nice, as the weather is still mild and there are fewer tourists.

We would not recommend to visit Nazca in the winter season (June to August) as the weather can be windy and flights over the Nazca Lines may be cancelled due to bad weather.

Travel Time


What does it cost to visit Nazca?

Staying in Nazca is very affordable. Unlike Huacachina, Arequipa or Cusco, Nazca is no major tourist hub. People rarely find their way to Nazca, as most travelers usually directly commute to Ica or Arequipa without stopping in Nazca. Because of that, prices in Nazca are very affordable.

Expect to spend between 190 USD and 690 USD for a week in Nazca.

How many days to stay in Nazca?

We’d recommend to take the flight in the morning when the weather conditions are the best, therefore, you should plan at least one night in Nazca, unless you are taking the night bus from Arequipa and arrive in the early morning.

If you are on tight schedule, you can continue your trip in the afternoon after seeing the Nazca lines. In case you bring some more time, there are a few fascinating archeological sites in the outskirts of Nazca, such as Chauchilla Cemetery, Los Paredones, Cantalloc Aqueducts and Cahuachi Temple worth visiting and can be covered in a day.

Nazca Travel Guide: View over Nazca valley

Are the Nazca Lines worth visiting?

The sheer scale, complexity, and detail of the Nazca Lines are truly impressive, and one must witness them in person to fully grasp their magnitude. The geoglyphs are remarkably well-preserved, making it hard to believe they were created over 1,500 years ago.

Whether you’re viewing a few of them from the observation tower or flying over many of the figures, you’ll be amazed. Additionally, Nazca is a perfect stop along the coast when traveling from Lima to Arequipa. But also as a day trip from Lima to see the Nazca Lines, it is absolutely worth it.

Nazca Travel Guide: Flying over the Nazca Lines