Usually, visitors in Nazca remain less than a day to fly over the famous lines and figures of the Nazca pampas.
However, the place offers other archaeological and natural high-level attractions for a stay of up to three days or even more.
Maria Reiche Museum
Maria Reiche, a German mathematician, devoted a significant part of her life until her death to descifrate the meaning of the vast framework of lines and figures.
The researcher’s desert house became a museum: an enjoyable quick tour if you stop there while crossing the desert. It motivates you to see the lines, and every bit of knowledge you have will make your flight over the lines more interesting. Otherwise, it is as if you were flying over some scratches in the desert. Maria is buried in the museum, with a burial marker similar to Graceland, providing the opportunity to take pictures of the grave. Among the most exciting things are the original sketches and the photos of the lines, which are much more precise than they currently appear from the sky.
Cantalloc Underground Aqueducts
Very close to the city, these aqueducts date from the time of the Nazca Culture (200 A.D.-700 A.D.). There are 46 aqueducts of which 32 are still in use. They were built with stones, slabs, and trunks of Huarango, which have stood the test of the centuries. On the site, you can see the excavated wells in the form of a spiral, which allows to obtain a better water quality. Nearby there is the spectacular Hacienda Cantayo Hotel and Resort.
Cahuachi Pyramids Ceremonial Center
About 6 kilometers from Nazca heading southeast, passing near the Ocalla aqueduct, an ancient large pyramid unearthed from the sands of the Cahuachi Desert in Peru was discovered as part of a vast pre-Columbian ceremonial center of great archaeological importance. The pyramid is part of the Cahuachi site south of the Nazca lines and has recently opened for visitors. The rest of the area is still under exploration and excavation. It consists of truncated adobe pyramids and was built by the people of Nazca (370 BC-550 BC). You can see an open patio on one side and a large terrace with covered enclosures; On top of the more massive temples, such as the Great Temple, large rooms with dozens of columns were found. Most of these pyramids were abandoned during the 5th, and 6th centuries A.D. Cahuachi was an important ceremonial center of the Nazca culture and was related to some of the Nazca lines from the year 1 CE to approximately 500 CE.
Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici has been digging the site for the past decades, leading a team every year. The site contains more than 40 mounds crowned with adobe structures. It has also been studied by Helaine Silverman, who has written a book about Cahuachi. It has been recently opened for visitors. The permanent population was quite small, but it was a pilgrimage center that grew considerably in population for significant ceremonial events. These events probably involved the Nazca lines and the gigantic dune of Nazca. Support for the pilgrimage theory comes from the archaeological evidence of the small population in Cahuachi and the Nazca lines themselves that show creatures such as the killer whale and the monkeys that were not present in the Nazca region. Of course, commerce or travel can explain the images. Due to the dry climate, the findings are quite precious and even include ephemeral material such as textiles.
Antonini Nazca Culture Museum
This didactic and very interesting museum in Nazca shows an extensive collection of objects belonging especially to the Nazca culture, and in particular, to the ceremonial center of Cahuachi, it is worth visiting. It is administered directly by the “Centro Italiano Studi e Ricerche Precolombiane”. The Museum preserves and analyzes the archaeological evidence resulting from the research activity of the “Nasca Project” in the ceremonial center of Cahuachi and other major sites of the Nasca River Valley, since 1982. All materials, therefore, belong to a context determined that it is scientifically documented and provides each object with an appropriate cultural association. The museum complex extends over a circumscribed area of 750 square meters and also includes an outdoor archaeological park of 1,600 square meters, in which it is possible to admire the “Bisambra Aqueduct,” a vestige of the talent of the ancient inhabitants in Hydraulic engineering field. The archaeological park shows some real-life burial reconstructions, with imitations of tombs and related funeral equipment. It also shows some reproductions of the micro rock paintings of Huayahua and a reliable small-scale model of the “Pampa de Nasca” “geoglyphs. The Museum is organized around the different factors that affected the development of the communities that were established in the Nasca Valley and neighboring territories. Among the most important factors are natural resources, which the man from the Rio Grande de Nasca Basin learned to exploit. Another was the planning that informed the use and transformation of the available physical space, with economic, political, and religious objectives.
The first room of the Museum presents the section dedicated to the environment and describes the main archeological sites in the area, Pueblo Viejo, Cahuachi, Estaqueria, Paredones, including aqueducts or filtering galleries. The materials exhibited include samples of agricultural plants, discovered during archaeological excavation, in addition to some examples of ceramic jugs, which belong to different periods, both chronological and cultural, of the sites that have been investigated.
From this point on, the Museum examines all aspects of Nasca society. The collected materials allow to recreate, with a high level of approximation, several details of the daily life, the economy, and the political and religious organization of the Nazcas.
In the amazing Chauchilla cemetery, the bodies of the old Nasca were preserved by natural mummification in the arid climate. This site shows mummies, ceramics, colorful textiles and other objects, practically intact. Chauchilla is about 30 km from the city of Nazca.
Pampa Galeras Vicuñas Reserve
Reachable in a couple of hours from Nazca, the Pampa Galeras National Reserve at 4000 meters above sea level was established in 1967. Its name was changed by the Pampa Galeras National Reserve Barbara D’Achille in 1993. The main objective of This Reserve is to protect the vicuña and promote the development of the population settled there.
This reserve includes 6500 hectares that belong to the Lucanas peasant community located in the department of Ayacucho, province, and district of Lucanas.
The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) is the most representative in Pampa Galeras, and the objective of this reserve is to protect these animals, which were on the verge of extinction. Thanks to this important decision, the population of vicuñas grew from a few hundred to more than 16 thousand in 2006 in the Reserve and nearby areas. Now hit is no longer in danger.
In Pampa Galeras we can also find the Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), the Andean Taruca or deer (Hippocamelus antisensis) and the Suri, a species of Andean ñandú (Rhea pennata), that live free in the pampas, all still in danger of extinction in Peru.
Punta San Fernando, a natural paradise out of the ordinary
Punta San Fernando is a fascinating expedition that requires traveling in 4 × 4 vehicles crossing the desert until you reach the Ocean at a natural paradise of marine fauna.
San Fernando is one of the least visited natural shelters on the Peruvian coast. Travelers will be able to observe quite close to sea lions and, if they are lucky, find guanaco groups hanging around in the only place where they can be found along the Peruvian coast.
The ecosystems of hills, deserts, and oceans converge around the tip creating a beautiful oasis of life that houses one of the most important colonies of Humboldt penguins in the country.
However, the main attraction of this place may be the presence of family groups of Andean condors that descend from the high Andes in search of food: the majestic condors descend from the mountains to eat the placenta that leaves sea lions after birth, and dead pups and wolves. After a well-deserved banquet of marine species, these majestic birds sunbathe spreading their wings on islets and cliffs. This unforgettable adventure will bring the lucky participants to a close contact with the wild and uncontaminated nature. Once you reach the beach, you will have the opportunity to be very close to sea lions, penguins, and multiple birds. Lunch on the beach included. Return to Nazca.