Ancient Water Pumps of Puquios in Peru

Puquios is an unremarkable town in the Nazca Desert sprawled besides the Tierras Blancas River. This is either is in flood, or dry as a bone according to the season. If you would like to Google it, the coordinates for Puquios are 14°49’24.92″S  74°56’38.01″W although as you will soon see that could not be the purpose of my post.

Water Nazca Aqueduct Peru
Aqueduct emerging from tunnel: Photo on Flickr by YamezA / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Puquios Ancient Water Pumps

If you want to visit it personally, the desert outpost is 430 kilometres south of Lima along the coastal highway and then a little inland, although I doubt you will find a hotel easily. The place is so remote a bird’s eye view is best.

Puquios Ancient Water Pumps: Overview of Puquios
Overview of Puquios: Google Earth

Satellite View of Puquios Ancient Water Pumps in the Nazca Desert

If you are on Google Earth now, I would like you to scroll to the east a little as far as 14°49’30.67″S 74°54’40.11″W and zoom in until you are looking down on the building with the blue roof. Do you see the strange row of holes above the bottom field from the centre to the right?

The Ancient Water Pumps of Puquios
The Ancient Water Pumps of Puquios: Google Earth

These are the mysterious spiral, rock-lined holes called Puquios the Nasca people carved into the ground between 1,000 BC, and 750 AD when they vanished. Would you like to take a closer look at this phenomenon? This as close as I could scroll: Here is a clearer image at the top of the page.

Nazca Aqueducts Peru
Nazca Aqueducts: Photo on Flickr by Véronique Debord-Lazaro / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Puquios Ancient Water Pumps of the Nazca Desert

Here is your first clue. The name Puquios – also called Los Puquios and Puquio – meaning ‘spring of water’, suggests the town is on a perennial water source, even after the Tierras Blancas River vanishes into the sand in dry season as this image shows. Logically, one would need to dig down to reach it, but how would one draw the water out when the sand kept collapsing? Voila, here is the answer, a wind driven pump.

Entrance to Nazca aqueduct called Puquios Peru
Entrance to Nazca aqueduct called Puquios: Robert Thompson (Wayne State University / Public Domain

The Ancient Aqueduct of Nazca Peru

After research only possible with the advent of satellite imaging, scientists at the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis in Italy have concluded the puquios ‘served as part of a vast hydraulic system that carried water in underground canals to where it was needed—either to water crops or into populated areas as drinking water.’

Nazca Aqueducts Peru
Nazca Aqueducts: Photo on Flickr by Diego Delso / CC BY-SA 2.0

They believe the prevailing winds blowing up the valley across the holes, spiralled downwards pushing the liquid through the system allowing people to access it at the bottom of the wells all year round. Some of these Puquios ancient water pumps are still working, causing me to wonder at the unknown genius who thought the idea up in this grim unyielding place.

Mountains of Puquios
Mountains of Puquios: Google Earth

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI 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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3 Responses

  1. Nazca Desert: Beneath the Peruvian Skies - Go4Travel Blog

    […] Nazca Desert on a high Peruvian plateau is an isolated, dry and windless place, that scientists believe once was […]

  2. Avatar for Richard Farrell

    Julia Hammond

    Fascinating reading, Richard. I thought I knew Peru well (pardon the pun) but this is a new one on me and somewhere I’ll be sure to check out during my next visit.

    • Avatar for Richard Farrell

      Richard Farrell

      Thanks Julia. I am delighted to make your acquaintance! Richard


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