Flight over the Nazca Lines with Air Condor.
We took a trip organised through Kuoni as an add on to our South American panorama tour. We flew into Lima two days before the main tour and took this trip on the day after we arrived.
We were picked up from our hotel at 6am which was interesting after our flight from the UK the day before - but we did it. Our guide was delightful and showed us the sea front of Lima as well as geological information about the rocks we could see on the way out as well as commenting on the crops grown along the way and various other interesting points about Peru generally. The driver was excellent and drove safely and sensibly at all times.
We were supposed to fly from Lima to Nazca but in this economic climate of airlines in trouble this airline cancelled these flights so we had to drive to Ica then fly from there. On arrival in Ica there were three coaches of Japanese tourists. Apparently Japanese tourists provide the biggest number of customers for these flights over the Nazca lines. This meant that we were going to have a long wait - not sure what the problem was, if it was a mistake in the booking or if this was normal but we had to wait 3 hours before our flight which wasn't great as there was not a lot to do at the little airport. However our guide offered to take us for a trip round Ica so we took him upon his offer.
At the Airport there are washrooms, a gift shop, a limited cafe And a video room where you can watch a documentary in your own language about the Nazca lines. Apparently the documentary is longer but the man in charge fast forwarded the dvd to the part about the lines which was very interesting and reminded you of the shapes you were going to see in reality when on your flight.
We went to a lovely little oasis just outside Ica called Huencachina's Oasis. This is a popular place for younger people to stay as they off desert sport activities such as sand boarding and driving dune buggies. We just walked around the tiny town surrounding the natural lake and admired the dunes and colonial buildings.
We returned to the airport and waited around half an hour before boarding our tiny Cessna 12 seater. We were lucky enough to be behind the pilots and so had extra views from the windows. They only used the window seats so everyone had a window view - so 8 people per plane. The pilot gave the commentary and it was brief as his English was limited so there was no extra chat - just pointed out the particular shapes when we flew over. As we flew over each of the main shapes the pilot circled and gave those on the other side of the plane a chance to see from their windows. This was quite dramatic and I was glad I had taken my 'Kwells' before the trip. I'm not sure how anyone with a fear of flying or heights would cope but it was certainly an experience both in terms of the flight and seeing these amazing formations.
We flew over mountains and desert on the way and were clearly able to see the Trans American Highway which is the road from Chile all the way to Miami. We could also see the viewing platform alongside this Highway from which you are able to see clearly the tree and the hands but I'm not sure how much more.
The lines themselves are so vast that they can really only be seen from the air or the viewing platform ( the hands and the tree only). Shapes include a hummingbird, a condor, hands, a tree, a monkey and a spider, some are clearer than others. There are also random lines and a huge arrow. Archaeological studies have contributed a number of explanations one being alien intervention, the famous 'Chariots of the Gods' by Eric von Danniken supports this theory. Another theory is that they man made astronomical charts or maps of water courses, plans for farmers but no explanation can really being scientifically proved and the question remains as to why a civilisation with no means of flight should create designs that can only be seen from the air. It is something that will remain a source of discussion for many years to come I believe.
All in all I would certainly recommend the trip even though it is quite a long drive - 4 hours each way - from Lima. It was quite a pleasant drive and well worth it for the view of these amazing man-made wonders that still, people cannot agree how they got there and the reason for them being there. It really is one of life's great mysteries.