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Huacachina: The Sand-Boarding Mecca of Peru

by Globetrooper Lauren | 15 Responses
Huacachina Sand Dunes Peru

When I first stumbled upon Huacachina as the sand-boarding mecca of Peru, I added a new must-do in my bucket list. And then came the images of soaring sand dunes, the legend of a mermaid princess who created the natural oasis that is Huacachina, and the death-defying reviews of dune buggy rides. I was hooked.

Huacachina is only 5kms from it’s sister city, Ica where all the main bus lines stop. The city of Ica is only a 4-5 hour bus ride from Lima, and a $2 taxi ride will get you to the small town of Huacachina. The norm after a stopover in Ica is to get back on the bus south to Nazca, 2-3 hours away.

Huacachina

The Huacachina oasis and towering sand dunes - funkz

What to do

Huacachina is the only oasis in South America, surrounded by massive waves of sand that stretch to the Pacific. It is now known as the best place in Peru to get your thrills on a sand-board and a dune-buggy. You can even fork out the cash to hire your own 4×4 and explore the mounds by yourself.

It’s quite the tourist town (less than 200 people live there permanently) so expect to see a lot of backpackers wanting the same experience as you. After hours playing on the hot sand dunes, you can relax by the plethora of swimming pools with a book, and regain your strength for the nightlife ahead.

As the town depends entirely on tourism, and the majority of clientele are young adventure-seekers, there is a lively night scene to say the least. Keep in mind that it’s a small isolated village, meaning food and drink prices are more expensive than the rest of Peru.

Dune Buggies

Dune buggy races - jmage

Ica shouldn’t just be transferred through either, it is known as the land of the sun because of the cultivation of grapes, asparagus and olives, among others. The Ica Valley is also the biggest wine producer in Peru, well something a little stronger than wine… Pisco. There are many winery and bodega tours where you can learn how to make the Pisco Sour and sample, sample, sample the day away.

Where to stay

Desert Nights is the only Hosteling International hostel in Huacachina. It lacks a swimming pool and dance club, which is a norm for the other resorts here. Really good location-wise, clean and affordable.

Casa de Arena is a popular backpacker hostel, also known as the night-time party centre. So if you’re after a more relaxed weekend where sleep is before sunrise, this probably isn’t the place for you. It has a swimming pool, bar, restaurant, disco and even a volleyball court.

Huacachinero is another good budget option, less popular than Casa de Arena but with better facilities. It has a swimming pool, bar, hammocks, and they offer camping as well as hostel accommodation.

Sand Board Vendor

Skeptical sand-board vendor - Aleks J Clark

We’re unsure yet whether we’re going to make the trip to Huacachina…¬†I thought it could make for an adrenaline-filled weekend away from Cusco. But the more I keep googling, it looks like Huacachina is rather tricky to get to, if you’re not starting from Lima (direct north) or Arequipa (direct south) that is. The 20 hour bus ride from Cusco (to the east) to Ica is a bit of a turn-off, even before the fact that the bus might not actually stop there and continue on it’s merry way to Lima. But the opportunity to try sand-boarding in this picturesque village weighs a ton!

Featured image by Rick McCharles from Flickr’s Creative Commons

Posted in Adventure Travel, Peru | October 20th, 2010

15 Responses to Huacachina: The Sand-Boarding Mecca of Peru

  1. We are heading to Peru this week and will definitely stop off here on our way up the coast. It does seem easier to access from Arequipa or Lima.

    • *So undeniably jealous right now* Yes I should amend that it’s also easily accessible from the south, just not the east so much :( boo

  2. This seems like such a cool activity–though I imagine it’s as painful to fall while sandboarding as it is while snowboarding. :-) If it turns out this is not a great location for you to get to, I would imagine there are other places in the world that host sandboarding that might be more conveniently located.

    • Yeah I wonder if it’s as painful as falling on a snowboard… the sand is so soft but probably time after time it would start to hurt. Going to have to test it out now :)

  3. Huacachina is definitely worth the trip! We left via Arequipa, which is another very cool city that shouldn’t be missed, so you can split up the distance from Cusco and spend a few nights there.
    Sandboarding tip – rent real snowboards with boots, the wood planks are terrible and will have you eating a lot of sand!
    We did a guest post for ytravel blog on our expereince there – http://www.ytravelblog.com/places/south-america/sand-boarding-in-peru-who-knew

    • Thanks for the tip Cam. After seeing your photos I really want to make the effort and go there! We have to make up our minds quickly, we’re out of our apartment in Cusco next week, time has just flown.

  4. Huacachina is an amazing place to go! You should do it, definitely worth it! What I did was take a flight from Cusco to Lima and then the 6.5 hours bus to Ica. I took Soyuz bus, local and cheap ($12 the ride). I actually stayed ant Desert Nights. It is the most popular place there. They are extremely laid back and extremely friendly with travelers, and cheap! ($6 per night). They also provide the sandboarding/dune buggying, and more.

    If you’re up for the thrill of sandboarding, put a lot of wax on the bottom of your sandboard. It will have you flying down those dunes. Wooh!

    If you want something more relaxing, you can rent a small row boat in the oasis.

    I have a post about Huacachina scheduled later this week. :)

    • I think it’s just too far out of the way, considering we’re going to be spending 3 days+ on buses just to get to Argentina… but I’ll definitely be finding out where else we can go sandboarding.
      Put a link here of your post when it’s up – I’m keen to read it.

  5. Happened to run across this sport. is it new? seems like a blast. great pics? would love yo try it .
    Thanks.

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  7. take a Bus from Lima to Ica , it takes 4 hours bus trip. southeern coast of Lima city
    most recommended bus is Cruz del Sur with proffesioanl staff , also you have a new company which is Oltursa and the oldest bus company but not too recommended but with more scheduled departures Peru Bus Soyuz.
    Ica and the Sand Dunes at the Huacachina is a great place to enjoy.
    YOu have also The flight over the nazca Lines if you go further 2 hours .. it is Nazca city..
    and a 45 minutes before Ica is the Amazing Paracas National reserve and The Ballestas Islands these both are activities you should not miss if your are in this area .. enjoy your trip in peru.
    http://www.viajesperutravel.com
    tourism@peru.com

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