The Nazcan culture flourished on the desert coast of Peru in the modern day area of Ica, south of of present day Lima. Nazcan culture has left us with one of the great mysteries of all time: the Nazcan lines, massive drawings made with white rocks in the desert. These gigantic figures can only be seen from the air, yet are nonetheless perfectly geometrical, prompting modern speculation of everything from aliens landing and drawing the figures, to hot- air ballooning centuries early, to the idea espoused by Maria Reiche, the best-known of the archaeologists investigating the lines, that they are in fact a solar calendar. The Nazcan culture is also notable for its pottery, which is particularly graceful and colorful in a way that other major Peruvian cultures failed to achieve. The Nazcans built on the remains of the Paracas culture, a previous tribe that resided in the same area and whose main achievement was the use of multicolored dyes in weaving. The area in the mud is an amalgam of both cultures, peaceful tribes whose homeland was eventually absorbed into the Incan Empire of Tahuantinsuyo.
The Andes are a mountain chain or 'cordillera' that runs north and south along the western side of South America. The mountains separate the Amazon tropical jungle on the east from a very dry desert on the west coast of the continent. Home to several unique animals including the South American camelids (llamas, alpacas, guanacos, vicunas), the Andes have also been a hotbed of cultural development, particularly in the pre-Columbian era, when they were home to cultures such as Chavin and later that of the Incas, which came to dominate the Andes with an iron fist and particularly advanced agricultural, military, and governmental techniques. The Incas were eventually conquered by the Spaniards, who then mostly failed to develop the mountains to the extent to which the natives had done. As a result the descendants of the Incas were able to hide in the mountains and conduct a guerrilla war. Some of the magnificent ruins they left, such as Machu Picchu, were not discovered until the 1930's. To this day the Andes remain gold-rich. a hotbed of guerrilla warfare, and of course aplace of magnificent landscapes and rivers.