Dom: This is somewhere I've looked forward to coming to since I started watching documentaries instead of cartoons. It's the mystery of the strange images that is the attraction, so i suppose it's in no one's interests to discover the real reason for their existence. The alien enthusiasts visiting from around the world probably account for a good portion of tourism revenue here alone.
The figures and lines are numerous but the most impressive ones are the 'astronaut', hummingbird, spider, whale, hands, condor, alcatraz (which interestingly in English is the bird 'gannet') and monkey.
Our pilot flew us and two others around the desert for 35 minutes at the cost of 35 dollars (about 15 pounds!) each. We tried to haggle him down to 30 feeling we were being ripped off, until the realization came that we were haggling over less than a couple of quid each for an aeroplane flight.
The flight was not smooth. We both felt a little dodgy but the most disarming feeling was my whole body going numb and a shortness of breath. That was weird, not felt like that before.
Glad to be back on the ground our taxi driver was waiting to take us to a pre-Inca cemetary. The way is remote and along a bumpy track. There was no sign of life anywhere in sight as our driver told me about three trusting tourists who'd got into a cab to go to the cemetary like us and had been unloaded into the desert right here and shot dead for their cameras and wallets. After this pleasant little story I couldn't help but keep an eye on his hands for sudden movements.
The cemetary is notable for the fact that there are open graves, or pits, in the ground. Each pit had at least one fully form skeleton inside and some still had leather patches of skin on them. Most had some hair that now looked like a bad wig. You can't blame them for their appearance though as they've all been dead for nearly 2000 years. Our taxi driver tried his best to explain what the cemetary was all about in basic spanish to the accompaniment of hand movements, so we gathered that those in the pits would have slit there own throats and those of their children, and that they were commonly over 2 metres tall. That's probably a 50% height increase on the average Peruvian!
While i'm thinking about it, another interesting fact someone told me: Peruvian women take great pride in their long pig-tails so when they get old and the hair falls out or degenerates, they where wig-pig-tails. That's why all old ladies here where hats i guess. Well i though it was interesting anyway.
Also while i'm thinking about it, nearly every tourist we've met in Peru seems to have a story of being mugged or robbed in some way. Often the robbery fails because people resist and the robber just shrugs his shoulders and walks off. And it's all in broad-daylight and seemingly on the spare of the moment. An Aussie we met had a 50-60 year old man pickpocket his camera from his jeans on a bus and then sat there next to him. The Aussie spotted the cord poking out from the old man's clothes! These Peruvian pick-pockets and robbers are so cheeky.
Crystal - Aside from completely bricking it over the small plane the trip was fascinating. There are so many theories about how or why these strange lines and patterns, seen only from the air, exist. The lines spread over an incredible 500sq km of arid rock plains and they consist of over 800 lines, 300 figures and around 70 animal and plant designs. An astronomical calendar? Ritual walkways of a cult? Representations of drug hallucinations? There are so many theories.
Blatently extraterrestrial landing sites in my opinion.
We are not alone.