Strange Meanderings Beneath Peruvian Nazca Desert Skies

The Nazca Desert on a high Peruvian plateau is an isolated, dry and windless place, that scientists believe once was rich and fertile. The Nasca people destroyed their fertile forest biosphere 2,500 years ago to plant huge swathes of maize and cotton. An extreme El Niño event caused an immense flood that swept everything before it, before the ancient civilisation vanished in unforgiving sand where bodies linger on forever.

Nazca Desert Nazca Lines The Hummingbird
Nazca Lines and The Hummingbird from a small plane: Ilker Ender / CC BY 2.0

Nazca Desert Near Huacachina, Peru

Travellers overnighting in Huacachina accommodation would deserve forgiveness for thinking the only markings in the Nazca Desert sands are tyre tracks they leave behind as they labour up and down the giant dunes. In 1553, the explorer Pedro Cieza de León noticed a series of small trenches he mistook for trail markers. It was only after humankind invented airplanes, that a pilot casually looked down and discovered a secret lying forgotten for 2,500 years.

Nazca Desert Near Huacachina, Peru
Nazca Desert Near Huacachina, Peru: Ilker Ender / CC BY 2.0

Sunrise at Huacachina

The pilot had stumbled over a variety of huge curvilinear drawings spanning hundreds of meters each, that the Nasca people created by digging shallow trenches ten to fifteen centimetres down. These revealed underlying lighter-coloured clay providing images of mythical hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards etched below, but only visible from the sky.

Nazca Desert Sunrise at Huacachina
Sunrise at Huacachina: Ilker Ender / CC BY 2.0

The Monkey in the Nazca Desert

Opinions divide sharply concerning why the industrious Nazca people created such strange images apparently intended to be visible only from the sky. Much of their art depicts mythical monster gods they believed controlled their lives. Perhaps these images are still praying for them.

The Monkey Nazca Desert
The Monkey: Diego Delso / CC BY-SA 4.0

Some believe their drawings are calling out to flying saucers. Modern scientists are more pragmatic, thinking the lines are pathways for meditation. I think the mystery lingers on, and challenges our sense of what is real.

About Richard Farrell

Richard Farrell

I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.

My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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