Huacachina is a small desert oasis near the town of Ica. Most travellers stop at this tiny little village (or the nearby Ica) for a night or two to break up their trip from Lima to Arequipa or Cusco and to do some sandboarding and/or some pisco and wine tasting.
Like other travellers, we decided to stop for one night to break up our journey from Lima to Arequipa. For accommodation, we chose The Upcycle Hostel, a newish hostel about 10 minutes walk from Huacachina. It was pretty pricey but better value than the hostels in Huacachina itself and our private room and the shared bathrooms were super nice. What really made this hostel though was the very friendly guy who runs it (unfortunately I forgot his name) and the nice relaxed social atmosphere. On our first night, we returned from dinner to find most of the other travellers sitting around the bar with the friendly owner pouring free home made pisco for everyone. He also lit a campfire to keep us all warm (but the piscos were already doing that!). Although we had no intention to party when we arrived back from dinner, after a few strong piscos we ended up going to a club with some of the group. Whilst tiny, Huacachina does have some nightlife and we drank and danced until the early hours of the morning. The next day was a bit of a write-off and we spent the day lounging by the pool or on one of the couches whilst doing some travel research. Yes the hostel had a pool! This is quite common in Huacachina as the days are hot and after some cooler weather we loved being back in the sunshine. The hostel offered a winery and pisco tasting tour but having done our pisco tasting the night before we opted not to go.
We did however book the dune buggy and sandbording tour for 4pm in the afternoon. This is a popular time to go as the sand is cooler and you can watch the sun set over the dunes. The sand dunes are amazing and the dune buggy ride was like a roller coaster ride, so much fun!
I was a little apprehensive about the sandbording but decided to give it a go. After the practice run I was hooked! We went down four dunes with each one steeper than the next and although each time I was still a little nervous it was just too much fun to resist! Unless you hire special boards and have experience, you slide down on your belly and the key is to open your legs wide for balance. On one of the dunes Daz didn’t spread his legs wide enough and had a bit of a tumble at the bottom – luckily he escaped with only a few small grazes. You can use your feet to break but after the first couple of runs I worked out that it’s much better and much more fun to go at full speed.
The tour ended with a magnificent sunset and a final roller coaster ride down the dunes. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much but I absolutely loved it!
Next: we catch an overnight bus to Arequipa, Peru’s White City.