In the middle of the coastal desert, on the pampas of Jumana, visitors can see enormous images of animals, birds and gods, known as the Nazca lines. These are the main legacy of the Nazca civilisation, which developed between 100 BC and 600 AD. Thanks to their enormous size (they can reach up to 300 metres in length), they can only be properly 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 natural gypsum that exists in the region may have helped preserve the figures.
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 Lines is to fly over the pampas in the light aircraft that take off from Nazca airfield. On the Panamericana Sur there are also viewing sites, but only a few of the figures can be seen from there.
Location: Between kilometres 419 and 465 of the Panamericana Sur. In the province of Nasca, Ica department.
Climate: Sunny and dry all year round.
Average temperature: Maximum of 32°C (90°F) and minimum of 10°C (50°F). In winter the maximum temperature is 27°C (81°F) and lows reach 9°C (48°F).
Season: All year round.