Taken 17-Aug-10

Nazca Lines - The Whale

The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 kilometres (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima.

The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are zoomorphic designs of animals such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguar, monkey, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes such as trees and flowers. The largest figures are over 200 metres (660 ft) across. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but in general they ascribe religious significance to them.

The Whale is often the first geoglyph you’ll see after taking off from Maria Reiche Airport. It is one of the simpler designs and easy to make out from the air, offering a good chance to train your eye to the desert landscape below.

You’ll see a number of spiral-shape designs as you fly above the Nazca Desert, both as standalone patterns and incorporated into zoomorphic geoglyphs. One such spiral forms the Whale’s eye. The whale was a central god within the religious beliefs of the Nazca civilization, as were other animals that appear as Nazca geoglyphs. You might see a second whale, known as the Killer Whale, as you fly over the Nazca Lines.

Nazca Lines - The Whale