Would you head to a desert to play in the sand?
Huacachina is a place you MUST visit while in Peru. But let me tell you all the Huacachina Expectations before you head there.
A village 5 kilometers from Ica, Huacachina is called “oasis of America” from local residents and families. Once a resort town for Peruvians, the beauty of the village attracted tourist to its location. With a population of 100 permanent residents, Huacachina’s biggest attraction is the natural lake in the middle of the village with surrounding sand dunes.
The natural lake is suppose to have curative powers and cure ailments such as arthritis, asthma and much more, according to legends. There are many tales of how the lake was once developed but most of them stem from a beautiful native princess. In the 1980s water had stopped flowing into the lake, dropping the water depth and the attractiveness. But April 2, 2015 water started being pumped artificially, thanks to 10 private businessmen. This will keep the water flowing and the lake beautiful in the middle of the village.
If the view of the lake and village wasn’t enough to visit, the surrounding desert will appease you. The desert is great for sports like sand boarding and sand buggies, as well as watching a sunset. These sand dunes stretch over a hundred miles long and tall.
Travelers may partake in a tour from Ica or Lima. They may also rent their own moto bike from Ica and drive themselves. Some tourists will book a private driver to get them to the oasis as well. As long as tourists get to Ica, they will find a way to Huacachina.
Huacachina is full of hostels and full of tourists. It is a great place to stay but the prices per night are higher here than in the near by city of Ica. Huacachina books fast, so if you would like to stay here you have to book early. Stay in Ica for the night and take a taxi to Huacachina for 10 soles (around 3 USD).
The lake is stunning and the best view is from a top a sand dune. Surrounded by palm trees makes it that much more magical. While here, tourists may take a dip in the water or rent a boat to get across the lake.
There are plenty of places to eat in the village. Many of the restaurants are scattered with tourist and a great place to meet friends.
No ATMs are located in the village. Make sure to have plenty of money before entering Huacachina for food, tipping drivers and plenty of water.
It is a desert, very hot during the day, cool once the sun goes down. Bring a light jacket or long sleeve for when the sun disappears.
The sand dunes are huge. But they give the best view of the city. Behind the village there is a giant dune that if climbed, will give the best view. Keep in mind, climbing isn’t easy and the sand is hot.
Sand buggies are huge, open doored vehicles that will take you around the desert. The tours last around 2 hours and are a bumpy ride. Tip: Take Tylenol before embarking. The guides will try to entertain their guest by going slowly going up hills and back down quickly. This will give the feeling of one’s stomach in their chest.
Sand boarding is the best part. Each individual will receive a sand board to use during the tour. They aren’t the best boards, but they get the job done. The guide will take the sand buggy to 2-3 stops and hills to go down on. Tourist can either go down on their bellies or on their feet. Helmets aren’t given out, but the guides are very cautious about only allowing new boarders to go down on smaller dunes.
Tours go on throughout the day but the 4pm tour is spectacular. The 4pm tour allows guest to witness the stunning sunset over the dunes. Sitting and staring as the sun goes down will be a tourist’s favorite part. Your guide will set you up perfectly to get the best view.
What to Wear
As mentioned above, bring a light jacket to wear after the sun goes down. But during the day the sun is bright and powerful, wear sunscreen. Wear strong shoes to be able to climb the dunes with, it is hard. Long sleeves or capris/pants are useful as the sand will leave scratch marks over your body. Of course, expect to get sand in your hair and mouth and a handkerchief isn’t a bad idea.
Huacachina is different than anywhere else in Peru. It isn’t like the structures of the Incas, or the greenery of the Amazon or even Lake Titicaca- it has its own, undoubtably, magical scenery. Huacachina Expectations: Expect beautiful views, lots of tourist, but endless sand and adventure.