Huacachina Oasis in Peru: A Trip to a Small Town Lost in the Dunes
Huacachina oasis is a small town in the desert in Peru, surrounded by palm trees and dunes. It resembles the classic corners of the Sahara Desert, although it is located on the other side of the world. This place is very popular with tourists who come to this piece of paradise from all over the world. Let’s find out why it is so attractive and what kind of entertainment you can find there.
Huacachina, Peru, is a small settlement with only 100 inhabitants (not counting tourists, of course). It was built around a small natural lake. Initially, wealthy families from the nearby town of Ica came here for vacation, but in recent years, tourists have become frequent visitors not only from Peru but also from other countries of the world.
The main source of income for residents is tourism, so the infrastructure here is developed at a high level. Cozy restaurants, comfortable hotels, lots of greenery – all this looks like a fairy tale against the backdrop of endless desert.
The heyday and improvement of the oasis in Peru fell in the 1940s-1950s, when the entire Peruvian elite began to travel here. A new surge of interest in this resort arose already in the 1990s, when a large-scale advertising campaign was launched. Today, Huacachina is the best place in the world for sandboarding and buggy riding (special off-road vehicles designed for driving on the dunes).
How to Get to Huacachina
The path to Huacachina follows a road about 5 km long. You can take a tourist bus or taxi from Ica, located 4 hours south of Lima.
Walking along the main alley of Huacachina, you can stumble upon a statue of a mermaid, which depicts one of the legends of the origin of the lake. According to the story, a young princess walked here long ago, combing her hair, looking at her reflection in a small mirror. Suddenly, she noticed in the reflection a young hunter who was approaching her. Frightened by him, she accidentally dropped the mirror, which shattered and turned into a lake. And the princess dived into it to hide. So, she turned into a mermaid, and her tunic, left on the shore, turned into dunes. There is a rumor that at night on the full moon you can even hear her singing.
The Oasis Problem
A big problem for the oasis has been the cessation of water flow into the lagoon since the 1980s. Private landowners in the oasis area built wells, which dramatically reduced the water level in the lagoon. To restore it, a plan was developed to pump water from a nearby farm. The process of artificial filling of the reservoir began on April 2, 2015, and since then the water level in the lagoon has risen by almost 3 meters.
Is It Possible to Swim in the Lake?
Despite the beauty of the lagoon, it is not recommended swimming in it. No, the water is safe but rather cloudy.
Exciting Entertainment at Peru Oasis
Perhaps the most popular activity in the desert oasis city is sand boarding. Sand boarding is similar to snowboarding, only you do not ride on the snow, but on the dunes on a special wooden board. It might sound intimidating, but don’t worry, it’s pretty fun! Tourists of all ages are eager to go for a ride on the dunes. There are several different techniques for sandboarding. Experienced sand boarders can walk down the dunes while standing on the board, but it can be quite dangerous for beginners. So there is a second option: going down the dunes while sitting or lying on the board, and believe it’s no less impressive!
Another equally popular entertainment in the Huacachina oasis is a four-wheel-drive buggy ride through the dunes. Fasten your seatbelts for a fun ride and travel at full speed across the Peru desert, enjoying the great views! Many tourists like to combine buggy and sandboarding in one activity. So, you can take a buggy to the top of one of the dunes, and then go down on a wooden board. Just be careful not to get sand in your eyes and mouth.
Swim on the Lake by Boat
If you do not like an active pastime and want to have fun with your family, then you can rent a boat for a relaxing day. You can also take your children with you and see the views of the town.
Pisco & Wine Tour
Wineries producing wine and the famous Pisco are just a short drive from the oasis. This is a tour in which tourists can learn how Peruvians make red wine and Pisco, a strong grape brandy that is even Peru’s national drink. These alcoholic drinks have been around since the Spanish conquistadors brought grapes with them to the New World and forced the locals to grow them.
Where to Stay?
Hotel El Huacachinero
Hotel El Huacachinero in Huacachina oasis is surrounded by dunes. Here you can find small but cozy rooms equipped with every comfort such as free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and cable TV. It features an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant. A nice bonus: a continental breakfast is included in the room rate. If you do not want to sit in your room all day, you can contact the tour desk, where they can find interesting adventures for you. Free parking is also available on site. The hotel has a convenient location, with bars and restaurants about 5 minutes’ walk away. You can also rent a sandboarding board or a buggy.
Price: Prices start at $68 per night.
Ecocamp Huacachina offers spacious, cozy rooms overlooking a courtyard, a beautiful terrace, and an outdoor pool with stunning views of the dunes. You can also use free private parking and fast Wi-Fi. There is a shared bathroom and kitchen with all the necessary equipment. There is also a restaurant and bar on site. And if you want to have fun, the friendly staff would be happy to find the tour that suits you.
Price: Cost per night starts at $22.
The Upcycled Hostel
This quaint hostel is just 10 minutes from Huacachina center. The Upcycled Hostel offers clean, cozy rooms with comfortable beds, an outdoor pool, and a cozy patio with a bar, sun loungers, and hammocks offering superb views of the vast dunes. The hotel also has a restaurant with a wide selection of delicious dishes at a good price.
Price: Prices start at $12 per night.
Huacachina oasis, Peru, looks like a small piece of paradise in the middle of the endless desert. True, there is not so much entertainment in the oasis. As a rule, tourists spend about 5-7 days here, and this is quite enough to enjoy the beauty of the picturesque landscapes.
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