Somewhere out in the middle of the Peruvian desert is this oasis:
Huacachina is an adorable little town nestled between sandy mountains and centred around a desert lake. It is something so picturesque I’m sure it could be mistaken for a mirage.
This desert oasis was actually natural until only 3 years ago when the water level dropped low from overconsumption. The dreamy little town keeps it going now via tap water from a nearby city.
Though there is not much to do in the town itself per se, it is full of little restaurants and bars that open up to the street and make it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the site… such as this interestingly named one:
What Being Trapped in a Desert Would Be Like
Shane and I decided to hike up one of the dunes surrounding the town to get an overview of the whole beautiful scene. We chose the best time of day, obviously: at noon, the hottest point of the day.
As we walked up the dune in the sweltering heat, we both decided being trapped in a desert would be no fun. Shocking, I know. With every step we took, our feet sank further into the sand and our elevation gain felt minimal. Wind gusts filled our eyes and mouth with gritty sand, and sand found its way into every crevice of our bodies possible. And, there was no refuge from the hot, hot sun.
By the time we reached the top, sandy and sweaty, Huacachina truly looked like paradise:
One of the most fun things to do in Huacachina is taking a dune buggy ride through the desert!
The driver made the ride feel like a roller coaster, whipping up to the top of a sand peak and quickly dropping us straight over the edge. Or he’d take a steep banked turn where you felt like you might fall straight out the side of the buggy. Thankfully the vehicle had a roll cage around it, so we felt that as long as we kept our limbs in we might be safe.
Other times he just zoomed us across the desert at super fast speeds and we felt like we were out on safari.
The only thing that can make dune buggying more fun is strapping a piece of wood to your feet via Velcro and propelling yourself down a sandy mountain.
Sand boarding was a ton of fun, though most people spent time going down the board on their bellies as Velcro really doesn’t do a good job of holding your feet in place (suprise). Shane, myself and only a couple others tried true sandboarding and, after multiple falls on our bums, discovered the only way to do it is to propel straight down on the board. No fancy “carving” as sand provides a lot more friction than snow and it’s surprisingly hard to get yourself going.
Everyone cheered as the first person successfully cruised down the hill. We represented our Canadian roots well; out of the four people to make it down standing up, 3 were Canadians and the 4th was from Denmark.
And as if the day couldn’t get any better, we ended it watching the sun set over the dunes and were amazed at how lucky we were to be in a whole new continent seeing some amazing scenery for the first time!
Now off on an overnight bus to continue our exploration of Peru… I’m sure sleeping on a bus with shoes full of sand will be pretty comfortable ;)
We booked the tour online beforehand with Nazca Flights. I did not have any problems with them or with the reservation process. However, there are many tour companies in Huacachina that are able to book “same day” tours so it is not necessary to book ahead of time. We specifically wanted the evening tour so we booked ahead to be sure we got it.
Our bus to Huacachina from Lima was booked online with Cruz Del Sur. Book online before you leave and you can select seats. The bus was new and comfortable. They also had a secure bus terminal in Lima that made the process very safe and easy. The bus stops in Ica at a bus station with few amenities. We were able to store our bags there for free and then take a taxi to Huacachina for 8 soles.
Hi Sandra & Shane, as always super pics and great adventure! I was wondering about the possibly destructive environmental impact increased tourist activity, especially with motorized vehicles, might bring to the desert scape. I’m afraid, people can be so careless and thoughtless sometimes. Cordially, Claudia
Nice to hear from you :) I think that’s a very good point… and with Huacachina being such a popular spot, sandboarding tours seem to be going pretty frequently so I think your concerns about the environment are legitimate. I’m not aware of specific government measures to protect the environment in the area, but I do know that we were required to pay a “conservation fee” on entrance to the park. I would be interested to see exactly what it goes towards.
I think the main environmental concern in Huacachina is water scarcity. The natural oasis dried out years ago, and is now maintained with tap water from a nearby town, which struggles with water restrictions as a result. I think tourists coming in and taking a few showers a day to wash off the sand are a potential problem in the whole picture. That’s where our thoughtlessness as travelers could use some work…
Cheers Claudia! Thanks for taking the time to send such a thought provoking message.
Nice pics !!!!
What? There’s other stuff in Peru besides Machu Pichu? Crazy! Tom is extremely jealous of the sand boarding and dune buggy-ing. The picture of the town surrounded by the desert is unreal.
Lovin all the trip pics so far!
You bet there is! And if Tom is so jealous then tell him to stop working so much and he would be able to join us :P