Most people associate Peru with Machu Picchu. They arrive in Cusco for a day, go to the most famous Inca ruins in the country, and then leave.
It’s a pity; Peru is more than Machu Picchu and the ruins. In southwestern Peru, for example, lies Huacachina, a very small village (pop. 115) in the Ica Province. This small town surrounds a natural lake in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand dunes stretching several hundred feet high.
If you’ve had your fill of colonial cities, Inca ruins, and the jungle, why not try out the desert for a change? Huacachina is not a stranger to tourists; a lot of residents from the nearby city Ica regularly go to Huacachina on holidays, giving it the nickname “Oasis of America.”
You can find some tour agencies there that can help you with the three best things to do in Huacachina: enjoying the oasis, dune buggy riding, and sandboarding!
Enjoy the Oasis
The simplest thing you can do when in Huacachina is to experience the oasis itself. Enjoy the view up close by renting a rowboat and staying for a few minutes in the middle of the water. You may want to bring a swimsuit for when you want to cool down in the lagoon.
Second, you can look for a palm tree near the oasis and just sit there. After a long and tiring day of riding and eating sand, chilling out by the oasis may be the best thing you can do. Don’t forget your book and your cold drink!
Dune Buggy Riding
Riding the dune buggy in Huacachina will take the word “adventure” to a new level. Speeding up while thrashing humongous dunes is the name of the game. A lot of tourists compare it to roller coaster rides, but much more intense.
Why? Well, imagine a 60-minute ride going up and down the enormous dunes and being covered in sand from head to toe. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush!
Here is a tip: join the afternoon tour; it’s the best time of the day, as its cooler and the colors of the desert are softer. It starts at four in the afternoon and you may have a chance to see the sunset. Don’t forget to wear a lot of sunscreen, though. Even at this hour, the sun can still be brutal on skin unused to South American sun.
To maximize your dune buggy rides, combine it with sandboarding. Most people call it the ‘hotter’ side of snowboarding. What do you do? Simple: you rent a board and start conquering the steep and hot sand dunes. Just pretend you’re snowboarding, but on sand, of course.
For first timers, remember that sandboarding is risky and challenging so it is best to do it slowly. Find your balance and don’t rush. For those who want added speed or lesser friction, the people renting out the boards will give you a special kind of wax or cera for your board. If you haven’t done any sandboarding before, obviously don’t go this route.
You may look and smell different after the dune buggy ride and sandboarding, but it is one experience you will never forget!
Huacachina is not just rides, sun, and sand. They also have bars and restaurants that offer great food and drinks while enjoying the desert moon and the evening stars.
When you’re tired of historic old stones and jungles, go to Huacachina and enjoy the desert!