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The Oasis of Huacachina; Sandboarding, Buggies and more..

March 19, 2024
Huacachina Desert Oasis 2024 - 69explorer

A small desert oasis surrounded by massive sand dunes Huacachina is located 10 minutes outside the city of Ica. With some of the largest sand dunes in the continent, the desert around Huacachina is a sight to behold. Travelers can enjoy attractions such as sand boarding, and dune buggies. This is a perfect destination for travelers looking to raise their heart rates a bit while also enjoying the sun. Get your adrenaline fix or go for a stroll around the lagoon whether you’re traveling with family or not the Huacachina desert oasis has something for you!

Attractions at Huacachina

Huacachina has been a Peruvian travel destination for decades locals from the nearby city of Ica often times go to the desert oasis to enjoy the lagoon with their families. However, in recent years the area has gained attention from foreign travelers as well. The town itself is small but, the desert around is immense. There are various cafes and restaurants in the village in addition to small shops and hotels.

Dune Buggies

One of the main attractions in Huacachina are the dune buggies. As you can imagine the sand dunes in this area are huge. The giant desert landscape when combined with the metal skeletal dune buggy frames and the sound of revving engines makes for a scene straight out of some post-apocalyptic desert movie. Don’t be scared even though it might feel like your driver is going to launch the vehicle straight of the edge these guys are professionals.

The dune buggies are located just past the lagoon on your way into the desert. You can approach the drivers directly or take a guided tour of the desert. Also, it depends on what type of experience you want just ask your driver. Tell your driver if you want a more relaxing stroll through the desert or a heart pumping sand shredding adventure.

Sand Boarding

Possibly even more popular than the dune buggies, sand boarding attracts locals and foreigners alike. People come from all over Peru to give this niche sport a try. Having some of the biggest sand dunes in the continent this really is an ideal location for the sport. Depending on what type of experience you want you can either rent your own gear or take a guided tour. It’s recommended to take a tour especially if you are not experienced in any board sports.

Sand boarding gear

The type of gear you use depends on what the individual wants. There are generally three different ways to get down the dune.

Snowboard: Literally a snowboard, not a sand board. Comes with snowboard boots and bindings. If you are familiar with snowboarding this is the choice for you!

Sandboard: A large wooden or fiberglass board with handles, not great for standing up but rather laying on your stomach or back. Just keep in mind you have very little control if you’re not standing up

Skis: Not as popular as the other options, however, if you are an experienced skier this may be the best option for you. Believe it or not there are some sand ski enthusiasts out there so why not give it a try?

Sand Boarding + Dune Buggies

If you are interested in doing both you can book a tour with a tour operator. This is probably the best option especially if you’ve never sand boarded before. Talk with a tour operator and they’ll take you around the dessert to the biggest dunes in the area. There you will have some time to try out sandboarding with the help and tips from the local guides.

Hiking the Dunes

If the adrenaline dose is really not your thing and you are looking for a more relaxing experience you can always hike to the top of one of the two large dunes that surround Huacachina. The northern dune is more popular and faces west giving you great views of the sunset. Try and time the walk right, in the middle of the day the sun can be unbearable. It’s much more enjoyable if you either go early in the morning for the sunrise or in the late afternoon for the sunset.

The sight at the top is something to admire, like the landscape of some alien planet behold the seemingly never-ending sea of sand. To the south are rolling sand dunes for as far as the eye can see, and to the north witness the desert invading the city of Ica. At some times of the year, it seems as if the sun sets directly between the city and the dessert further adding to the urban/nature contrast.

***ADVENTURER’S TIP: If you are feeling a bit adventurous take a night hike through the desert! The day it is often far too hot to hike the dunes. At the night the dessert cools off and if your lucky a full moon can light your way. Remember stick to the buddy system always bring someone with you!

Guided Tours or Solo Travel?

There are pros and cons when choosing a private tour or deciding to go it alone but, at the end of the day it often comes down to personal preference.

When choosing a guided tour nearly everything is taken care of for you. You will get door to door service, getting picked up in a private vehicle from your hotel and dropped back off at the end of the tour. Picking a local tour guide can sometimes be cheaper than going it alone. Some guides can get all of the transportation and rental gear for lower prices than your average tourist. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet travelers on the tour making it the more social option. If you are the type of person that likes convenience and socializing then taking a guided tour is for you!

Getting to Huacachina Desert Oasis

Depending on where you are coming from the journey will very regarding time and method. Generally, it’s pretty easy and straight forward to get to Huacachina.

Huacachina from Lima

Lima, the capital city of Peru is not terribly far from Huacachina especially when compared to some other cities in Peru. To get to the Huacachina desert oasis from Lima you will first need to take a 4-hour bus ride to the city of Ica. If you want you can split up the trip by visiting Paracas and pisco along the way, which both have tourist attractions. You can stay the night in one of the many hotels, or go straight to Huacachina and find accommodation there.

Cusco to Ica

Cusco is much farther away than Lima is. Depending on what route you take the ride can be anywhere from 15 to 20 hours. If you take the southern route you will pass by the city of Nazca and get the chance to see the world-famous Nazca lines. After arriving in Ica it’s only a 10-minute taxi to Huacachina.

Because Cusco is so far from Huacachina you can opt to fly to Lima first then take a bus to Ica. If you are short on time then this is probably a better option than taking the long bus ride.

Ica to Huacachina

Being on the outskirts of Ica it’s very simple to get to Huacachina from Ica. Simply find a taxi or moto taxi and ask to be taken to Huacachina. The ride is only around 10 minutes form Ica and should only cost a handful of soles.

Accommodation

Huacachina is a very small town, because of this there are not a ton of different accommodation types to chose from. There are a few different hostels but, if you are looking for something more luxury you shouldn’t get your hopes up. You can always book one the luxury hotels in Ica.

Banana Adventure Hostel

Banana Adventure Hostel is a great option when picking where to stay in Huacachina. Boasting a large pool area and an inviting bar, this hostel is a great place to meet fellow travelers. With both shared and private rooms this is not a luxury hotel but the rooms are clean and the staff helpful

Wild Olive Trattoria & Guest House

Wild Olive Trattoria & Guest House is another great option when considering where to stay in Huacachina. Trattoria means “small restaurant” in Italian, and as the name suggests this is a hostel restaurant combination. With arguably the best food in Huacachina, the Wild Olive restaurant is usually packed, especially on the weekends. A standard hostel with a nice dinning area looking out onto the lagoon this is a great option for anyone who likes being able to eat where you sleep while socializing with fellow travelers.

Viajero Kokopelli Huacachina Hostel

With the highest rating on google, Viajero Kokopelli Huacachina Hostel is a great option if you are in the mood to party. With an outdoor pool area and large bar this is the place if your looking to socialize and make new friends. With daily events and no quite hours there is always something to do. Offering private rooms and shared dorms this hostel is one of the nicest in Huacachina.

Huacachina Desert Oasis Packing List

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