Etched into the desert plains over 2000 years ago, The Nazca Lines geoglyphs are one of Peru’s most capitvating sites to visit. Flying over the Nazca Lines offers the best perspective to appreciate the large scale of these mysterious shapes, an impressive feat achieved by the ancient Nazca culture. These ancient geoglyphs – consisting of several hundred individual figures – were created by brushing away the dark top layer of barren desert to reveal the light, sandy soil underneath and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Aracari arranges Nazca lines tours from Lima as part of a multi-day private tour to Peru including all accommodation, guiding and transfers. We do not arrange visits to the Nazca Lines on a standalone basis.
Planning a Nazca Lines Tour from Lima
Getting to Nazca, Pisco or Ica airport from Lima by Road
The Nazca Lines are located south of Lima. To see the lines you take short scenic flight from one of the three nearby airports: Nazca, Pisco or Ica. The nearest airport to the Nazca lines is Nazca airport. The closest airport to Lima is Pisco, which is around a 3.5hr drive from the capital; alternatively there are limited commercial flights from Cusco to Pisco. The advantage in visiting the Nazca lines from Pisco airport is that it is the closest to the coastal destination of Paracas, a half hour drive away, which has plenty of other attractions that merit an overnight stay. These include the Ballesta Islands and Paracas National Reserve. Paracas has excellent luxury hotels including Libertador Luxury Collection and Hacienda Bahia Paracas. Aracari arranges trips to the Nazca Lines combined with Paracas on a private basis only, as part of a multi-day itinerary to Peru.
Getting to Pisco Airport by Commercial Flight
Pisco is one of the three airports that you can take scenic flights from over the Nazca Lines from Lima. Depending on the time of year, LATAM operates commercial flights (limited frequency) from Cusco – Pisco meaning you can drive from Lima to Pisco and connect on to Cusco by commercial flight, or in reverse. Cusco airport is the gateway to Machu Picchu.
Private Charter Flights from Lima
If you’re short on time, or want to visit the Nazca Lines in style, Aracari can also arrange a private charter flight from Lima, cutting out the need to drive south of Lima. This means it’s possible to do a return trip to the Nazca Lines tour from Lima in as little as half a day. Private charter flights depart from Lima International Airport to Nazca or Pisco airports. On arriving, you then need to switch plane and enter a small aircraft for the short, scenic flight over the geoglyphs, before returning to Lima in your private charter. This is the most expensive option for visiting the Nazca Lines.
Nazca Lines Flight Day trips from Lima
The scenic flights leave from Pisco, Nazca or Ica airports which are accesible from Lima by road. This means it is possible to visit as a day trip even if you don’t privately charter a plane to get to the airports south of Lima. However, the drive time is relatively long compared to the amount of time you actually spend flying over the lines, which is about 20 minutes in total. In our experience, for many travelers the long journey by road done one day is not worth it for the time spent viewing the Lines. As such, we do not recommend the Nazca Lines one day trip from Lima. Rather, we strongly recommend you base yourselves in Paracas (or alternatively the grape-growing region of Ica nearby, which also has good hotel options), to take in the nazca Lines in combination with other highlights of Peru’s southern coast. A three day / two night stay is the ideal amount of time. With one night it is also possible to visit the Nazca Lines and Paracas National Reserve.
Nazca Lines Flight Time
The actual time you spend in the plane will depend on which airport you start from – Nazca, Pisco or Ica. Nazca airport, as the name suggests, is the closest to the lines. Therefore taking off from the other airports means you spend marginally longer on the plane to reach the lines themselves. The longest the total trip will be is around one hour and 40 minutes. A total of 20 minutes are spent circling over the Nazca Lines and Palpa Lines.
Regardless of which airport you depart from, the flights are carried out using a small plane. The plane is a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B Series with capacity for 12 passengers. It doesn’t matter which side of the plane you sit: the pilot will ensure the views are taken in from both sides in equal measure. The Nazca culshapes consist of several hundred individual figures including geometric shapes, zoomorphic designs such as birds, monkeys, and fish, as well as anthropomorphic and plant-like figures. Read our first-hand review on the Nazca lines flight experience.
Tips to Avoid Motion Sickness
While most people are completely fine in a light aircraft, motion sickness can effect some. To reduce the rick of suffering the syptoms, we recommend eating light (if at all) prior to the flight, drinking water, avoid staring at your camera too much, close your eyes if you start to feel sick or look at the ground. If you usually suffer from motion sickness, consult your doctor as medication can sometimes be prescribed to help.
Meet a Nazca Lines Expert
Aracari works with a wide range of specialist guides across Peru including Nazca specialist Ana Maria Cogorno. Ana Maria was the personal assistant to Maria Reiche – the German scientist famous for her success in gaining recognition of the ancient geoglyphs and UNESCO World Heritage Status. Maria Reiche studied the Nazca Lines for over 40 years and Ana Maria’s insight into the subject is unrivalled. Meet with Ana Maria in Lima for a discussion over dinner or insightful lecture on the Nazca Lines to discuss the history and ongoing preservation of one of Peru’s most important historical sites. Read more about Ana Maria Cogorno and preserving the Nazca Lines.
Nearby attractions to the Nazca Lines
The location of the Nazca Lines in the southern lowlands of the country boasts many nearby interesting sites in Paracas and Ica. We recommend combining these with your Nazca Lines Tour from Lima, making the drive south well worth the time. We suggest a minimum of a one night stay; two is ideal.
Paracas – where the desert meets the coast
The small coastal town of Paracas has some beautiful seaside hotels such as Luxury Collection Paracas and La Hacienda Bahia Paracas Hotel. An early morning start is recommended to take a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands, the best place to get up close to Peru’s diverse marine wildlife. You’ll see sealions basking in the sun, and Humboldt Penguins diving into the Pacific. If you’re up for adventure, take a sand buggy tour across the sand dunes of the desert. A half day visit to Paracas National Reserve is also a must-see, with striking coastline formations. Paracas can be used as a base to take a Nazca lines flight from Pisco airport, which is located approximately a half hour drive from Paracas.
Ica – wineries & pisco tasting
Also nearby is the town of Ica, Peru’s prime grape growing region. It is also home to Ica airport, an alternative starting point for a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines. In Ica we recommend taking a tour of Hacienda Tacama, the oldest vineyard in South America. Here you can sample that year’s wine and pisco, take lunch and enjoy a Peruvian Paso horse show on the lawn. It is also possible to stay in Ica – the best hotel is the charming Viñas Queirolo Hotel.
Private Nazca Lines tour from Lima with Aracari
Aracari Travel specializes in private, tailormade trips to Peru, including guided excursions, accommodation and transfers. We plan bespoke trips drawing on over 20 years of experience in planning custom trips to Peru. We arrange the Naca Lines trip to Lima only as part of a multi-day trip to Peru.
Contact us for more information and to plan a private, tailormade trip to Peru.