In the middle of the coastal desert, in the pampas of Junama, enormous man-made figures called the Lines of Nazca depict animals, birds, and gods. It is the main legacy of the Nasca culture, which developed between the years 100 B.C. and 600 A.D. As of yet it is not known how or why the lines were inscribed. Due to their great proportions—some stretching 300 meters (984 feet)—they can only be fully appreciated from the air.
Since their discovery in 1927, many theories have been advanced. María Reiche, the German scholar who dedicated her life to the investigation and preservation of the lines, put forth the hypothesis of an astronomical calendar whose figures marked different solar periods. She discovered the ancient practice of carving ditches in the hard, dry soil and filling them with stones brought from distant lands. The component of natural gypsum that exists in the region would have helped preserve the figures over thousands of years.
Among the best-known figures are the hummingbird, the condor, and the monkey. There are more than 800 images outlined in the desert.
The best way to view the extensive tracings is by flyover in the light aircraft that take off from the Nazca airport. On the Panamericana Sur there are also viewing sites, but only a few of the figures can be fully seen from there.
Location: 450 masl (1,476 fasl), Nasca, Ica Province.
Climate: Sunny and dry year-round.
Average temperature: a maximum of 32 °C (90 °F) and a minimum of 10 °C (50 °F). In winter the maximum temperature is 27 °C (81 °F) and lows reach 9 °C (48 °F).