Looking for an oasis to escape grey and smoggy Lima, I decided to head south for a couple of days, direction Huacachina. Crowned as the only oasis of South America, this is a somewhat surreal place just 10 minutes from Ica, in the South of Peru.
Most people come here to relax, go on a buggy ride through the dunes and go sandboarding. For me, it was the perfect spot to have a couple of quiet days before heading out into the Bolivian jungle for 1.5 month to volunteer with wild cats, so the last moments of relaxation were more than welcome.
The dunes are also an amazing place to watch the stars, meditate or do some sunrise yoga – even though you will need some motivation and persistence to walk up the dunes to find a good spot first. There is plenty of accommodation, and I highly suggest you take one with a pool, because during the hottest hours of the day there’s not much more to do than chill around with a book and take a refreshing dip.
Buggy rides are very touristy, but cheap – for about 30 soles you’re off for the rollercoaster dune ride, including a bit of sandboarding as well. If you’re more into trying the sandboarding on its own, I suggest you just go rent a board for a couple of pesos and try it on your own rhythm, without a hurry or your tour companions watching you.
I can highly recommend renting your board at the old man sitting all the way at the end of the promenade on the eastern side of the oasis. This is also a great place to head up, with a couple of slopes with different inclination. You can rent a handmade wooden board for as little as 3 pesos for 1.5 hour, on which you can go down standing up or sitting down. He also has board for 5 pesos on which you can strap your arms to go down laying, and real snowboards with boots for 10 pesos.
The handmade board doesn’t go as fast as a real snowboard obviously, but in any case, the sand is slower and more difficult to maneuver than snow. It will take you a bit before you’ll master the art of sandboarding if this is your first time – but it’s great fun!
Here is one of my attempts 🙂
Since there is not much to do, you can get up early to go see the sunrise – or if you’re not a fan of an early rise, the sunrise sets in around 6PM and is also more than worth to watch.
A good set lunch is served at La Sirena, and if you’re up for a good Asian curry – you can do so in La Casa de Bamboo. And a little tip for the fruit lovers: fruit is hard to find and a bit expensive in Huacachina, so bring it with you from Lima or Ica. In general, no real supermarkets are found in Huacachina, only little corner shops selling the bare necessities, and much pricier than in Ica town or the cities.
Getting to Ica from Lima is easy, there are busses leaving every 10 minutes from the Soyuz Cercanias bus station on Avenida Mexico. A ticket for the slower 4.5-hour bus will cost you 30 pesos to go, and 23 to come back. If you want a faster Express service with no stops, you can get one for around 40 pesos from Lima.