For some reason I thought a true desert oasis only existed in the movies so when I arrived in Huacachina I felt like I had walked into a movie set. This surreal setting of looming sand dunes over a gorgeous lagoon surrounded by shady palms was just what I needed.
Just on the outskirts of Ica, Peru in the Atacama Desert, Huacachina is a place the locals get away to vacation and is also a popular backpacker stop on the southern Gringo Trail in Peru. In my book, its a place you absolutely have to spend a few days enjoying on your way to Arequipa, Nazca, or Cuzco especially if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing a real desert oasis.
Do A Little Swimming and Catch Some Rays in Huacachina
While many say they won’t swim in the lagoon, I found it quite refreshing. There’s also an assortment of hostels and hotels in Huacachina that boast beautiful swimming pools for those that prefer the pool scene. Both are great in my opinion.
Sand Boarding and Dune Buggying in Huacachina
In addition to soaking up some rays there are a couple of fun sports you can get into here, sand boarding and dune buggying. I had a chance to do both and its an absolute blast! I highly recommend grabbing a ride on a dune buggy and taking your sand board with you (free at many hostels and included in most tours). Its way better to catch a ride to the top of the sand dune rather than trudging all the way up. Walking up hill in sand is about the hardest trekking you can do as for every step forward you take you sink backwards at least half a step. Its a really good workout.
The desert sunsets are also amazing and the best way to experience them is atop the sand dunes surrounding Huacachina. I recommend taking a sand board up with you so you can enjoy the ride on the way back down.