“A tiny oasis in Peru? For real?”
It seems completely unreal but this tiny village sits right there at the Southern part of Peru 5 hours away from Lima. Although it is not the most inspiring place to visit in Peru, tourists flock there for two main reasons: sandboarding and dune buggy ride.
I actually went to Huacachina because I’d really love to see the place in person but I didn’t have it in my mind to try any of these adrenaline inducing activities. The thought of rolling over the sand and swallowing mouthful of sand really scared me so I decided that maybe I can just simply skip these things to save myself from embarrassment since I’m not really the sporty type.
There is actually not much to do in the village if you decide not to engage in any activities. The whole place can be roamed around in less than an hour and most establishments there are only hostels, restaurants and bars. That was why just after an hour or so, I was left staring in the wilderness feeling sorry for myself for being so fearful. Good thing was I met this guy named Mario, from Mario Tours, offering me buggy and sandboarding for the price of 30 soles. It was cheap as compared to other operators’ prices of 50 soles so I was convinced.
Quick tip: There are no ATM machines/cambios in Huacachina so you must have some cash available when you get there. The nearest ATM machines/cambios are located in Ica.
I was seated in front of the dune buggy while we drove to pick up the other passengers along the way. After getting the buggy full, we started our roller coaster ride which left me screaming the whole time. Being seated in front was a good thing because no one was blocking my vision but it was very scary also since I get to see how steep the incline was. Some dunes are the size of a mountain and racing our way down at full speed made me just want to close my eyes while screaming out loud.
After giving all of us that sinking feeling in our stomachs, the driver finally found the perfect spot where we would do the sand boarding. He handed all of us our boards and gave a brief lecture about it. We started out with what he referred to as a “baby hill” but boy, it was steep. We did the sand boarding twice at that spot. First was on a sitting position with hands spread sideward and fingers tuck on the sand to serve as brakes. The second one was lying down on the sand board with our bellies with feet dug on the sand for brakes.
Quick tip: Temperature changes when the sun starts to set so you must bring some jacket when doing the tour.
I chickened out so I let the others go first while I try to muster some courage. When everyone else was done, I actually told the driver I don’t want to do it anymore but he insisted. So I sat on the board, fingers dug up on the sand and off I went. I was actually thrown off when the board came to a halt but I felt extremely happy and accomplished. We did it twice on the same location but the second time was with our bellies flat on the board. That time, I landed successfully without rolling over and swallowing some sand.
We drove again to our next sand boarding spot which was an even bigger dune. All of us literally dropped our jaws upon seeing how steep it was and if you fail to brake using your feet you could end up sliding down further another hill. The men from the group went down first and then ladies followed suit. One girl in our group ended with a scratch on her face. She failed to brake so she was thrown off the board and rolled a couple of times downhill. I almost backed out seeing what happened but I still pursued. With my feet dug up on the ground, hands gripping tightly on the board, I made my way down the dunes. It was a very long way down but I made it without any injuries (Yipeeee!).
To finish off the tour, we headed up to the dune overlooking the oasis to take some pictures. We also had an amazing time watching the sunset. The whole tour was really fun and I can’t imagine how much I would have regretted it had I not done these activities.
Quick tip: Only Peru Hop has a direct route to Huacachina. Other bus companies stop only at Ica and from there you can take taxis or combis (10 min max).
How and where to book:
If you want to pre-book for a tour, you can check out the website www.findlocaltrips.com for suggestions. The prices range from $15 – 25 (50 – 85 PEN). Peru Hop passengers can book while on board with their guide for the price of $15 (25 PEN).
If you are already in Huacachina and haven’t booked beforehand, there is no worry because there are a lot of tour companies in the town and most hostels would be happy to organize a tour for you. There are other operators also like Mario Tours who offer cheaper price $9 (30 PEN) so try to search around the area.
Private tours can also be arranged for the price of 60 PEN per person but it only lasts for an hour as compared to the tours mentioned above which takes 2 hours.
- Wear sunblock – It is really hot in Huacachina especially during noon and afternoon and if you don’t want to burn your faces off, you better wear some sunblock before heading to the dunes.
- Wear closed shoes – If you plan to sand board with your bellies, you would need to use your feet for brakes. Unless you want your feet getting scratched and walk back to your hostel on foot, you better wear something close.
- Bring warm jacket – In the afternoon it gets windy and cold so you must bring something warm and leave it in the buggy or else you would be shivering like me and it is so uncomfortable.
- Get insurance – There are certain events which we don’t expect to happen when we travel especially if we participate in adventurous and adrenaline pumping activities.
Have you tried sand boarding and sand buggy ride? Share your experience in the comments below.