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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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!
Learn more about things to do in Huacachina
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