(Altitude: 588 meters / 1911 feet, Population: 25,125, Phone Code: 056)
The town of Nasca is a dusty outpost in the San JosĂ© desert. The town and area would be unremarkable if it were not for the Nasca Lines, a series of thousands of designs etched into the dry desert outside of town. Further to the north are the little-visited Palpa Lines.
Nasca itself is a ramshackle town that has learned how to live off the tourist trade. Visitors to the town who arrive by bus will be greeted by a small swarm of pushy locals wishing to get them to stay in certain hotels and sell tours to the lines.
There is more to Nasca than the lines. The ancient peoples left behind other testimonies of their existence. Outside of town are the archaeological sites of the Cantayoc Aqueduct, the Inca ruins of Paredones, Chauchilla cemetery with bones scattered across the sands and Cahuichi, a grouping of about 40 pyramids.
The town is also a taking-off point for adventure travel. Visitors may sandboard on Cerro Blanco, a nearby enormous dune, or go mountain biking or horseback riding. There is good hiking as well, and four-wheel safaris to several points of interest. Two reserves lure travelers into other reaches of the region: Reserva Nacional Pampa Galeras, which protects wild vicuĂ±as, and Reserva Nacional San Fernando, a marine reserve.