Get a good look at one of history’s most arresting mysteries on a visit to see the Nazca Lines of Peru. You’ll find the Nazca Lines in Peru’s southern desert, which travelers typically visit on a day trip from Ica.

Flights are the only way to see the hundreds of images that dot the Nazca landscape. In fact, the modern world didn’t know about them until a pilot first spotted them in 1941. They’re spread out over 621 square miles (1,000 sq km). It’s possible to see a few of the Nazca Lines — also known as geoglyphs — from the surrounding dunes, but this vantage point only allows you to see small sections of the glyphs. Airplane tours over the Nazca Desert come with knowledgeable guides that can provide illuminating facts about Peru’s Nazca Lines.

There are around 300 designs, with around 70 depictions of animals and humanoid figures, including a spider, a monkey, and a humminbird. The ancient Nazca people made them by removing a shallow layer of hard dessert earth to reveal the darker terrain below. Although they’re mostly attributed to the Nazca, archeologists attribute some to even Paracas and Topará cultures may be responsible for some of the designs. The Nazca Lines of Peru are best known for their sheer size, with the largest example covering To this day, historians aren’t sure how ancient artists managed to make the perfectly straight Nazca Lines. Facts about the site are few and far between, as no written records of the Nazca people remain — although you can rest assured they probably didn’t actually serve as alien landing strips (probably).

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