Huacachina: Paradise In The Desert of Peru
Located only 5 hours from Lima you will find Huacachina… I assure you, IT IS as mesmerizing as it looks! If you have some extra time in Peru, do yourself a favor and don’t miss it. Why you might ask?…Let’s see if these are reasons enough for you:
See the only desert oasis in South America.
A lagoon surrounded by palm trees and in the middle of a desert. We’ve traveled to 36 countries and haven’t seen anything like this!
Magical sunset over the sand dunes.
If this one doesn’t convince you to visit, I don’t know what will. See for yourself.
Ride adrenaline pumping dune buggys!
And boy will there be adrenaline! Hang tight and make sure you wear your seatbelt.
Go sand boarding.
We’ve heard of snowboarding, but this is better! No snow, it’s not cold and if you fall it won’t hurt as bad. The worst that could happen would be to eat boatloads of sand.
Ok ok we’ve convinced you…what now?
In order to get to Huacachina, you have to travel to the near by town of Ica. You can decide to stay in Ica or book an accommodation in Huacachina. If you are on a budget, Ica will be your best bet. Huacachina is only a 10-15 minute tuk tuk ride from Ica. Which by the way is only S/4-S/5 ($1.18-$1.48 USD)! Accommodation in Ica is also way cheaper. You will be able to walk through Huacachina in less than an hour. The oasis is small and it only consists of a few hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Eating in Ica is also less expensive.
How To Get To Ica
We used Cruz Del Sur to get from Cusco to Ica, but the most common route is Lima to Ica when traveling the normal backpacker route. We used Cruz Del Sur buses for all of our travels in Peru. Not only is it very reliable, it is very safe and comfortable too. It is worth the extra money when comparing it to other buses in Peru.
How does sandboarding and driving buggies all around this insane desert oasis sound?! Your heart will beat fast as you jump into the buggy and hold on for dear life. This rush will last about an hour and you will also get a chance to sandboard. If you desire, you can stand up and go down the hill or just do like many and get on your belly and fly down the sand! This is fun and expect sand down your pants, shirt and your face! The best part is finding a spot to catch the incredible sunset. Believe us, it will not be hard. To this day, one of the best we have seen.
Book a tour or book it yourself?
When we arrived we looked around and found tours for the sand dunes at S/60 ($17.74 USD). The tour would pick you up and drop you off from your Ica hotel. The pickup time was 2pm and all the action started by 3pm in Huacachina. The tour gives you an hour to walk around the small town before the buggy ride starts at 4pm. The buggy ride and sand boarding go from 4pm-6pm. Our advice: Save some money and book it yourself! We walked out of our hostel and caught a tuk tuk for S/4 ($1.18 USD) which took us to Huacachina. Once you arrive, you will be approached by many sales people selling you the buggy action activity. Shop around and get the best deal. We ended up paying S/30 ($8.87 USD) each for the same activity they tried to sell to us for S/60 ($17.74 USD). The tour lasted 2 hours. There are also 1 hour tours available, but we recommend you maximize your time there. We ended riding with a group of about 8 people. The tour was the highlight of our trip!
What are you waiting for? Pack those bags and head on over to this beautiful spot! We love you Huacachina!
In Peru you will find a very small amount of locals that speak English.
Download the XE Currency App to get live exchange rate info anytime, anywhere!
CREDIT CARDS AND BANKS
Cash is best for buying at local markets, street food or small stores as these do not accept credit cards.
ATMs are readily available.
We mostly used Banco De La Nacion while in Peru since this one allows us to take money out with out any fees.
VISA REQUIRED FOR US CITIZENS:
Visas will be given at time of entry into Peru. The length of approved stay will be determined by border officials when you enter the country and can range from 30-183 days. Be aware of the time they allow you to stay in the country. If you overstay, you will be fined and it will be a hassle when you try to cross your next border, specially if traveling by land. (This happened to us!)
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 month and have 2 free pages in the visa section when entering Peru.
(Make sure to check with your local embassy for visa updates.)
The easiest way to get to Ica was by bus. We used Cruz Del Sur for all of our travels. There are other buses less expensive, but we felt completely safe with them. They are the only ones we saw which go above and beyond to make you feel secure.
Breathalyzer tests are given to their drivers before starting their journey
Always have 2 drivers who must rotate every 4 hours
Video record all passengers traveling
A hostess is available for you 24/7 and attends to your needs on the bus
Meals are included like breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on your time of travel (the food is really good!)
You get a personalized screen to watch movies in Spanish with English subtitles
They can’t drive faster than 90kmph, there will be a screen showing how fast the bus is going (in some cases it even beeps when the driver goes over).
TIP: If you decide to buy your tickets with Cruz Del Sur, their website has the ability to change languages. For us, it defaulted to English, but if you can read Spanish or figure out the steps to book in Spanish, do it! Once their website is changed to Spanish, the cheap tickets will appear. You will have access to some seats being sold at a 50% discount! This obviously depends on demand and some planning on your end.
(In no way, did we get any commission or free rides with Cruz Del Sur to write this piece, we really loved them!)
We will warn you, we traveled from Cusco to Ica and it was one of the scariest rides. Not because of the bus services, but you are traveling through the Andes Mountains. The road is incredibly curvy and you are traveling along the Andes cliffs. This was the worst road we took in all of our Peru travels.
We had heard mixed opinions about safety in Peru. Some cities seem to have more of a bad rep than others, but through out our stay we always felt safe. Even when riding on night buses. I was mostly concerned about all the road accidents you read about online, but if you book with a good bus company you should not worry. Just like in any other place in the world, use common sense like you would in any country. Make sure to steer clear of the roudy neighborhoods.