For people who don’t want to fly over the Nazca Lines, or who want to see them closer up, the Nazca Lines Observation Tower offers an alternative (and cheaper) view of three of the Nazca geoglyphs.
The Nazca Lines Observation Tower (Mirador de Las Lineas de Nazca) sits alongside the Panamericana Sur highway, about 16 miles northwest of Nazca. And while there’s no doubting that a flight over the Nazca Lines offers a far better view of the 19 square miles of geoglyphs, the observation tower does have some benefits.
If you don’t like flying, then the 42-foot-tall metal tower offers a far smoother experience than the light aircraft that bank and roll above the Nazca Lines. It’s just four staircases to the top, with only the desert wind occasionally buffeting the tower.
It’s cheaper, too, compared to the $80 US or more that you’ll spend on a 30-minute Nazca flight. It costs just S/ 2 (about $0.60) to enter the tower, although you’ll spend more than that getting there.
And then there are the views, which are… decent. From ground level, the Nazca Lines are impossible to see, at least in terms of making out any kind of shape (and it’s illegal to walk near them). From the top of the tower, you get an oblique view of two geoglyphs: the Tree and the Hands. They’re not the most interesting of the geoglyphs, but you can at least see them from a relatively close distance, something you can’t do from the plane (unless something goes badly wrong).
A third geoglyph, the Lizard, is also viewable from the tower. It, however, had an unfortunate encounter with the highway. Unlike the many local lizards who get squashed trying to cross the road, in this instance the road ran right over the Lizard. The Panamericana cuts right across its tail, so it doesn’t look great from the tower.
The builders of the Panamericana Sur generally maintain that the Nazca Lines were discovered after the construction of the highway, but that isn’t strictly true. Work began on the Panamericana (Pan-American Highway) in Peru in the 1930s, but the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe had spotted the Nazca Lines in 1927. That said, the true extent of the Nazca Lines was only known after the highway was built, with more geoglyphs still being discovered today.
Know Before You Go
It’s easy to reach the Nazca Lines Observation Tower from Nazca, either by taxi, bus or tour. Small buses and colectivos heading north along the Panamericana Sur can drop you off at the tower. It takes about 30 minutes and costs S/ 2 or S/ 3 (less than a dollar). Tours costs around S/ 50 ($15) and are worth doing if they include the observation tower as well as a trip to the nearby Maria Reiche Museum. Some also include the Mirador Natural, a natural lookout point on top of a small hill, from where you can see some different geoglyphs. You don’t have to pay for this mirador, which lies less than a mile to the south of the tower.