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Huacachina – Sandboarding in the Desert of Peru

Huacachina - an Oasis in the Dessert of Peru

Huacachina’s reputation precedes it.  An oasis in the Peruvian desert, surrounded by sand dunes, where Limeños flocked to escape the city.  Sandboarding and drunken debauchery in the tiny town close to Ica, and 4 – 5 hours drive from Lima.

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The Oasis in Huacachina Peru
The Oasis in Huacachina Peru

I had heard Huacachina was crazy at the weekends.  The usual Peru Hop hostel, Casa de Arena, has a nightclub attached to it, so I had no desire to lie awake all listening to banging music & drunken idiots.  So I tweaked my itinerary to arrive on a Sunday afternoon, the day after the weekend’s craziness.  This was also the afternoon after my vomitous Nazca flight, so I was still feeling awful.  Thankfully the 3 fellow hoppers I was with took pity on me and we shared a taxi from Nazca to Huacachina as I couldn’t face a public bus for two hours.

Huacachina - an oasis in the desert of Peru

We arrived without me throwing up in the car, which we were all relieved about.  Our previous Peru Hop guide had booked us rooms at Casa de Arena, which actually was a nice place, with a pool and a bar, but also with renovations going on all day.  A dip in the pool helped to clear my head and ease my lingering nausea, but a relaxing afternoon of sunbathing was marred by constant noise, and not so subtle stares from the builders.  So I went for a walk around the town, which isn’t really a town – just a few blocks of hotels, restaurants & bars, surrounding the lake in the centre.  All around, sand dunes watched over the now peaceful oasis.  That evening we chilled out, and I had an early night, still not feeling my best after my morning’s trauma.

Sandboarding in Huacachina

Sandboarding in the Desert Dunes of Huacachina

The next day after another swim in the pool came the only real activity in Huacachina, apart from drinking.  A dune buggy ride & sand boarding was the order of the day.  Not normally one for extreme sports, and still wary about puking after the flight the previous day, I finally plucked up the courage to join my group.  And I’m very glad I did!

Another Peru Hop bus had arrived by that time, so there were 2 buggy-fulls of hoppers.  The ride was great fun, and our driver spun us round, flying across the dunes like Lewis Hamilton on speed.
He drove us to a relatively low dune to being with, and explained that lying head first was actually the safest way to board down the dune.  Not convinced by his theory, I wanted to see if for myself before hurling myself face first down the dune.  He gave each of us a snow board, but with poorly attached straps and a bottom that had seen better days, the smooth surface long gone.  A rub of wax helped restore some slipperiness, and after a quick prayer our first victim settled onto his board and with a gentle shove was whizzing down the sand.  One by one we followed, some screaming, some laughing and some struck dumb!

One of the 'victims' sandboarding in Huacachina
It was a strange sensation to let go, but I loved it!  Just like a huge toboggan it was exhilarating!  We tried another couple of dunes and then moved to the highest one – each time getting a lift to the top in our buggy.  As we were feeling more confident, some tried different positions.  I stayed head first, but as I flew down I felt myself tipping to the side & tumbled off the board, landing face first in the sand.  I scratched my hand but wasn’t deterred, and hurled myself down once again.  I blame a faulty board, as I tilted again to the side and came off once more, this time bruising my pelvis & giving me a graze on my arm shaped like a shark bite!   Luckily I didn’t do any more damage, being quite a way from the nearest hospital!  I did get a fab looking bruise to show for it, and watched the colours on it change day by day, and couldn’t lie on my front for a good few days.

After all that excitement we packed up the gear and rushed to catch the sunset over the dunes.  Despite my injuries I still loved it!  The sunset was spectacular, and sharing the moment with some new friends I was glad to be there.

Enjoying the sunset in Huacachina

Drinking and dancing in Huacachina & Pisco Tasting!

That night we had a barbecue at a bar down the street, it seems a regular thing – if not every night then at least every week.  We bought the tickets at the hostel, and wandered down there to stuff our faces with meat, pasta and free cuba libres.  After dinner we carried on drinking – the other main activity in Huacachina!  We drank & danced in a bar called the Silva House near the hostel, the Peru Hop guides being regulars there I felt a bit like a celebrity!  I dranks until I couldn’t take any more, and went back to my hostel to pass out.

Pisco Tasting - not a great idea after Huacachina!The following day, feeling decidedly worse for wear, I hopped back on the bus and set off for Paracas.  Along the way we stopped off at a Pisco winery to sample Peru’s national tipple.  Not the best idea with a hangover, so I suffered through 5 or 6 shots, none of which I enjoyed, and got back on the bus to try and sleep it off.  In hindsight, attending a liquor tasting with a raging hangover isn’t the best way to enjoy it, but what can you do.  Overall, I enjoyed Huacachina, it is a good stop off on the way to Lima to enjoy for a night or two, but really 24 hours is enough once you’ve tried sandboarding and drunk enough pisco sours to last you a lifetime!

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6 thoughts on “Huacachina – Sandboarding in the Desert of Peru

  1. Paige Wunder says:

    I hate that the Nazca Lines made you sick, but I’m glad that you weren’t subjected to those Peruvian bus rides 😉 Sandboarding sounds like a blast! I missed out on this when I was in Peru, but I want to go again and this is on the list! Plus, that BBQ sounds like a perfect end to the day.

  2. Claire Summers says:

    I’m so happy I found your blog! I’m in CA at the moment and working my way down through SA next. I shall now be spending the next hour reading all of your posts! I’m not sure sand boarding is for me though. i’m way too much of a chicken!

  3. Cori says:

    The other day a friend took me to an art deco bar in Brussels where, very confusingly, the house drink was a pisco sour. Clearly this is a sign that my next trip needs to be to Peru!

  4. Iuliana Marchian says:

    I’ve heard so many times of sand boarding but I’ve always linked the board with the snow (normal after all). I’ve been just wondering how you can do sand-boarding for your first time, but then I’ve seen your pictures and how to do it. i think that I can do that, too. 🙂

  5. Susanna says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a rough couple of days! I hope your adventures in Lima see some better health. It looks like you had fun though either way. I recently tried sandboarding in Australia and it was fun, but so hot and tiring. Glad you didn’t get hurt too bad, and at least you have some battle scars.

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