A lot of where you go and what you do does not come from what you read, or see, but from what you hear. Huacachina, Peru is something you will hear a lot. Why? Its unlike somewhere else I have ever been and it took me until sunrise to figure that out.
Oasis in the center of Huacachina, Peru
We arrive in Ica, Peru, which is the big city next to the little oasis of Huacachina, in the evening after a long bus ride, and we quickly flagged down a little tuk-tuk style bike, carriage outside the bus station and asked the cost to Huacachina. We were surprised when we did the exchange in our heads that it was quite cheap, so we threw our bags in the back and stepped in as all 7 horse power revved up and carried us away. Something about sitting in a strange mode of transportation like a tuk-tuk that can make you feel like a kid again. It is like those old wood panel station wagons where the back seat faced backwards.
View from Casa de Arena in Huacachina, Peru
It was surprising that after just a few minutes in the curving streets of Ica, we exited along a long straight road, with a couple bends where the buildings on either side turn into small houses, then into nothing but sand. We climbed a small hill and left the city lights behind and descended into what we could see of Huacachina, Peru. We paid the guy, who had dropped us off right outside Casa de Arena Hotel and we walked to the check in and got a dorm. The next morning was when I really came to appreciate this place. Sleep still in my eyes, I grabbed my towel and headed for the shower. As I exited my room, still adapting to the light, I was a little bummed to see that the horizon showed a dark cloud approaching. Wait ... that cloud is too near to be that close to the horizon ... what I quickly realized I was looking at was a gigantic sand dune! I looked up behind me, then to my left, and right, and realized that we were completely surround by sand! Having not really done much research as far as photos on Huacahina, Peru, I was startled to see how sheer and close the dunes actually are. They serve as enormous walls circling the whole town and arriving at night, with very little lighting provided by the town, they were completely invisible in the darkness. Due to the heat and size of the hostel room, we moved hostels down to one called Banana's which was very comfortable and provided free rental of the sandboards, which are essentially just a piece of woods with rubber straps screwed in as foot straps. Nevertheless, perfect for a day of sandboarding!
Travellers Tip: Understand that for sandboarding, you need to climb the dune yourself unless you are going on the dune buggy tour. This is not easy! We revelled in sweating and exercise it took to reach the top, and it makes you appreciate the ride down that much more. Completely exhausting ourselves, and coating ourselves in sweat and sand, we showered and relaxed in the pool for the evening and wandered around the gorgeous little lagoon that centers Huacachina.
The next day, in the afternoon was our dune buggy tour!
Short clip of Huacachina, Peru dune buggy tour
Olli, myself and a bunch of super fun Danish people filed out of our hostel as the massive dune buggies arrived. We all strapped in and set off in a giant roar around the lagoon to the road that leads up and behind Huacachina. Instantly, you rise above the town and look back at the little circle of civilization, and behind you, nothing but sand which seems to go on forever. You get a real sense of yourself being just a grain of sand in a massive expanse of area but not too much time to get all "deep" as you roll over the crest of a large sand dune and plummet down to the bottom! As you reach the top, and the nose of the buggy dips towards the down slope, you can actually feel the back tires of the buggy come off the ground and the first couple times you do this, you are certain that it is going to flip! As the tour goes on, the speed gets faster, the dunes become steeper and the fun increases as well. The tour will take you far out to areas where Huacachina is no longer visible and you can strap into your sandboard from the top of the dune, and rip all the way down.
Massive buggy in Huacachina, Peru
Travellers Tip: Wax up! They bring normal candle wax for your boards and make sure you go hard on that wax because if theres any point of your board that is no waxed, it will catch and you will go tumbling into the soft sand.
Olli and I, Huacachina Peru!
Inredible experience, and what an incredible day. Not only the fun of the tour, but going over the back of the dunes and being able to look at Huacachina from a far, with Ica even farther in the distance, is an amazing sight. It is incredibly humbling to stand atop these enormous dunes and you really understand how small you are in the grand scheme of things. To stand at the top of those dunes and complain about your minuscule problems, is next to impossible.