Discovering the Nascans: Nasca Lines and Lake Haucachina

During much of the blogging experience I have been able to recount many of the experiences that we have had in Lima and in the community. On Tuesday during my layover in Panama I was able to gather some ideas together to provide you all with a better idea of a very interesting cultural and tourist experience-a visit to the majestic Nasca Lines. I hope you enjoy!

August 21, 2011

Last weekend the Doc and I packed up and headed out of the city. We decided to head to Nasca, a small city known for the remarkable Nasca lines.

Nasca is a city located about 450kms from Lima. It is an oasis, located 50kms from the coast. It is surrounded by the dry arid hills and sand dunes, the most prominent being the Cerro Blanco (White Hill), the tallest dune in the world.

Home to 30,000 residents, the city of Nasca has experienced a period of great growth, with the growing interest in the Nasca lines and other tourist sites.The city represents a nice mix of archaeologists, historians, local Nascan people (Nascans) and tourists. The Nascans still feel a connection to their ancestors. During our visit we saw a cemetery located near a significant ancient ruin that the Nascan people wtill walk to, to bury their dead.

We had an amazing time. Through a connection with Jorge Seminario from KUSA Bus Lines Peru, a man who arranges our transportation when we are in Lima, we were introduced to Josua Lancho (Professor Labcho), an energetic historian native to Nasca. Professor Lancho was a joy to be around and he kept us entertained with his stories, He seemed to know just about everyone in the town and he was greeted by just about everyone he saw around town. Lancho is an avid Nascan historian and as a result we were able to see artefacts from the Nasca, Guarni period at the museum of Antonio Antoleni, the Nascan aqueducts made a favourable impression on us. We even helped transcribe a document for Josua who is currently working on contributing his own theory on the creation of the Nasca lines. More than 70 lines exist. By taking an airplane flight one can see 16 images, including a monkey, humingbird and astronaut.

The Nasca lines we designed by the Nasca culture (400 AD). As we learned, historians debate the impetus for their creation. One theory states that they were created so as to be used during religious ceremonies to the gods. The other prominent theory was that they were designed for astronomical and cosmological purposes.

The highlight was our visit to Cahuachi. Cahuachi with its white walls stretches over 24km2. It is home to the largest ceremonial dig in South America and it is one of the largest in the world. When we arrived the archaeologists were busy uncovering and rebuilding the ruin. They had to stop at 1:00PM as the temperature becomes unbearable. We found out later that only a small portion of Cahuachi can be uncovered to ensure that it can be maintained. The rest remains underground.

The visit to Cahuachi corresponded with the serendipitous visit of Adine Gavazzi’s (archaeologist) to Cahuachi. Adine Gavazzi  has visited over 500 Peruvian ruins, which she has documented in her book, Arquitectura Andina. It was fascinating speaking with Gavazzi. When discussing her book, she explained that she hopes the book will help build awareness to the pre-columbian Peruvian cultures. It is her life goal to help the Peruvians learn about their history so that they can value the developed cultures that preceded the Spanish. It was an amazing experience being able to visit an archeological dig and speak to the members in charge of the dig.

After our nice time in Nasca we headed to Lima, making a morning stop in Ica. In Ica we enjoyed visiting Lake Huacachina, climbing the dunes and tasting Peru’s drink of choice, pisco sour, at one of the many vineyards. We then headed back to Lima to prepare for our busy week ahead.

The Nasca cultures are enchanting. I was left amazed by the Nasca lines and left in awe of such an advanced culture.

If anyone has the opportunity to visit Nasca and Ica I would highly recommend it. Your visit is sure to be enhanced if you stop by the Oro Viejo Hotel and tell them you are looking for Professor Lancho.

I hope these photos give you a sense of our wonderful experience in Nasca and Ica.

L. Shuttleworth

The Palpa Oasis - on route, Lima to Nasca.
Nasca residents mill around the main square.
Inside the cockpit - Nasca Lines
Astronaut, Nasca Lines, Nasca.
Spot the curly tail - Monkey, Nasca Lines, Nasca
Contemporary cemetery located minutes from Cahuachi. Nascans bury their dead in a location that maintains a connection to the past.
Magnificent Cahuachi!
Adine Gavazzi (archeologist) signs her newest book, Arquitectura Andina.

Impressive Nascan aqueduct

Artefacts - Antonio Antoleni - Nasca
Sand dunes - Huacachina
Buggies await passengers to head to the dunes.
The oasis of Huacahina - Lake Huacachina