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Recommendation activity: plane ride over the Nazca lines in Peru

The mysterious Nazca lines of Peru. Surely you’ve seen them in National Geographic or watched them on Discovery channel at some point in your life.  In case you haven’t or maybe you have and you forgot, let me jog your memory. These lines, named a UNESCO world heritage site, are located in the Nazca desert in the south of Peru between the towns of Nazca and Palpa.  The lines are actually huge geoglyphs that have been created on the floor of the desert. The largest ones measure over 200 m (over 600 ft) across. They were created by removing the red small stones that are found naturally in the area to expose the white, clay earth that lies underneath.the astronaut

the astronaut

The lines have puzzled scholars, anthropologists and archaeologists for years. Maria Reiche, a German mathematician and archaeologist dedicated much of her life to uncovering the meaning behind these lines.  In the town of Nazca, Peru, she is a revered figure and there is even a center named after her. This center includes a planetarium as well as information about her life and work and it’s located at the hotel where she spent years studying the lines.the whale

the whale

No one knows exactly why the lines were created but theories point to religious & astronomical meanings. They were thought to be built by the Nazca culture that existed between 400-650 AD. Reiche discovered the lines coincided with the solstices & felt their purpose was related to cosmology & astronomy.  To this day, the Nazca lines remain a complete mystery.  Naturally, conspiracy theorists claim aliens might have done it.the hummingbird

the hummingbird

The lines are only visible from the air.  In order to see them, you must take a (very small) cessna aircraft.  I was pretty scared to get inside one of these things. Years ago, many of these planes carrying tourists crashed because safety wasn’t a priority.  These days, the planes are newer and safety is given more thought.  Plus, the cost is rather steep at almost US $100 for a mere 45 minutes in the air.  The plane companies battle with each other right inside the small airport-each one trying to outdo the other for your business.  The demand is high to see the lines, so the price is pretty consistent among all of them.

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We were intrigued by these lines and so we felt like we had to see them. I’m glad we did and I am happy to share my recommendation with you. If you are debating whether it’s worth it or not to see the lines, I would say yes it is. If you have an interest in the lines, if they fascinate you in any way-I would say spend the money and see them.  I was surprised at how detailed & easy they were to make out.  I loved not only seeing the lines but being in the small plane that sat only 5 people. It was thrilling in itself.

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We ended up going with Aero Paracas and found them to be professional and reliable (well, we survived!). The cost was about US $92 each.  We just showed up at the airport on the morning we wanted to leave.  You don’t need to make an advanced booking, just be sure to go early. You will be put on a list-first come, first serve. We were on the plane within about an hour of our arrival. Don’t miss out on this unique experience.

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