Huacachina is a village of approximately 100 inhabitants, near the Ica city, in the southern part of Peru. It is a village concentrated around a fairy tale lagoon, surrounded by desert and its giant dunes. Thanks to cool activities such as dune buggy and sandboarding activities, Huacachina is a popular destination not only for the locals from the near city of Ica, but also for the foreign tourists who make a stopover here on their way from Lima to the Arequipa or Cuzco or vice versa.
We arranged the excursion to Huacachina at the hotel in Ica. A minibus picked us in the afternoon at the hotel and took us to the center of Huacachina, to the office where we had to sign (with our fingerprint) a statement that we took over any responsibility in case of an accident. Well, life is short and you have to live it right…
A buggy for 8 people with quite a crazy driver arrived and as we were the first ones, we took the ‘best places’ next to the driver, in the first row. Already when driving up the first hill, we could hear a strange noise (a moment when you realize why you had to sign own responsibility in case of an accident and start praying for everything to go ok). He speeded up. First hill up, and then faster and faster up another hilly dune. And then suddenly a fast drive downhill. And then again up and again down. You know how it feels a roller-coaster, right? So something like that, but with the strange noises. But after few minutes, you stop caring and start laughing and shouting, just remember to cover your mouth as the sand is not really tasty. 🙂
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We made it to the highest dune where we had some time to have a look around. It’s amazing – you see giant dunes almost everywhere around you. Nothing but sand, just sometimes you can spot the other buggies and few people. Otherwise sand and giant dunes. No, wait, we could still see Ica city in the distance behind all this from one side.
Then our driver took out 7 boards for us to enjoy sandboarding. You lay over the board with your head in front, and the guy just pokes you and you go downhill. So much fun apparently! (As there were only 7 boards for 8 people, I decided to stay and take some photographs.)
We drove down to pick them up and few minutes of roller-coaster followed again, I was covering my mouth not to have it full of sand. We stopped twice more for the sand boarding and then last fast roller coaster ride until the buggy stopped on the top of one of the dunes, offering us a fairy tale view: the beautiful oasis in the valley of the desert, ringed by palm trees.
The buggy then took us back to the village and we had a short walk (yes short, because it is such a tiny village – you need more or less 10 minutes to walk around the lagoon and back). There are few hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops around the lagoon. You can also swim in the lagoon or hire paddle boats if you have some more time to spend here.
How to get there?
The best way is to arrange the trip to Huacachina from close-by cities Ica (15 min. by taxi for about 10 soles) or Paracas (1,5 hour by bus). There are many agencies offering the trips and picking you at the hotels in Paracas or Ica, but you can also get the trip directly from the agencies in Huacachina. If you go from Lima, it will take you approx. 4 hours to Paracas and 5 hours to Ica by bus. For bus info, check Cruz del Sur or Peru Hop (the best bus services in Perú).
How much does it cost?
We paid 35 soles for one-hour dune buggy with 3 stops for sandboarding with a pick up from our hotel in Ica.
Where to sleep?
We stayed in Ica, in hotel Las Flores. The hotel is located in the residential area of Ica, it is very nice and clean. We especially enjoyed their swimming pool and restaurant. The personnel is very friendly.
But Huacachina is not the only activity to do around Ica. Did you know what is the oldest vineyard in the whole South America? Then read my next post about Pisco Wine Tour!