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Nazca’s tiny airport doesn’t serve passenger flights so almost all travelers arrive by bus instead. Buses depart from Lima every half hour or so, take around seven hours, and cost US$25 with Cruz del Sur. Other cheaper companies are available and there are direct connections from most major nearby destinations.
Most travelers rock up to Nazca, check out the lines and jump on the next onward bus that day. Having said that, there are plenty of other attractions for those with an interest in pre-Inca history that would warrant a stay of two days or more.
Once in Nazca, there are only two options for viewing the lines – take a flight or climb the nearby observation tower. Essentially, the best option boils down to your budget.
Flying is undoubtedly preferable as it offers a bird’s eye view of the most important etchings. A word of warning though, the 20-minute flight consists of numerous sharp turns which leave most travelers feeling seriously nauseous. Grab an anti-nausea tablet from a local pharmacy and try not to eat any big meals within a few hours of take off. Early morning departures are best as there tends to be less turbulence and better visibility.
Budget-orientated backpackers who don’t want to fork out for a flight should consider viewing the lines from the observation tower instead. While clearly inferior to soaring through the sky, this 13-meter (42-foot) tower does provide a reasonable vantage point to admire three separate spectacular lines. Travelers keen to see more can hike to the top of a nearby hill for excellent views of some different lines.
To get there on the cheap, buses and collectivos leave from outside the Cruz del Sur bus station and charge 3 PEN (US$0.90). Alternatively, taxis offer return trips for around 50 PEN (US$15) . Entry into the tower costs just 3 PEN (US$0.90).
There’s little point visiting the Nazca lines without doing at least a little research into how these remarkable etchings came to be. Two excellent local museums, the Casa-Museo Maria Reiche and the Museo Antonini, provide detailed information about these ancient pre-Inca people and some of their possible motivations for drawing the lines. There’s also a worthwhile museum located at the airport itself.