If you are travelling from Lima to Cusco, a nice place to break up the journey is the town of Huacachina, a true oasis in the desert. We loved visiting this town as it was like nothing we have ever seen before. We imagined how relieved you would feel finding this oasis if you were stuck in the desert without water for days.
Like most travellers visiting this town, what drew us here was to go on a sand-buggy/boarding tour. We had heard only positive reports from our Uyuni Salt Flat buddies so we decided we just had to make the stop here!
If you are arriving to the area by bus, your bus will most likely stop in the nearby town of Ica (only a 10-15 minute drive away from Huacachina). The accomodation in Ica is generally a lot less expensive than the touristy town of Huacachina so we would recommend staying here if you are travelling on a budget. We stayed at Diamond Monkey Lodge. It provided clean & comfortable accommodation with a light breakfast included for only $15 USD a night. The hotel sells the Sand Buggy/Boarding tour for 50 soles per person. However, we would recommend booking the tour yourself in the town of Huacachina as the tours can be purchased there for as little as 25 soles per person (note: it does require some negotiation with the vendors for this deal!).
A cab or a tuk tuk can be purchased for around 4 soles per way to reach the town of Huacachina. From there, vendors will madly approach you trying to sell you their tour. This can be a little overwhelming but on the plus side – the more vendors the better the deals! The tours either go for 1 or 2 hours. We negotiated to go on the 2 hour tour which was spilt 50/50 between dune buddy riding and sand boarding. I wouldn’t recommend going on the 1 hour tour as a 2 hour tour went very fast so I couldn’t imagine a 1 hour tour being enough time plus it would most probably cost you the same!
The dune buggy ride was an exhilarating experience and definitely not one for the faint hearted. I have heard it previously described as a roller coaster ride and this most certainly is true! You zoom down extremely high sand dunes at a million miles per hour. Our fellow dune buggy riders shrieked with excitement as the buggy went up and down the various sand dunes sometimes even being airlifted off the ground. I often wondered if the buggy was going to make it or whether the whole thing was going to roll. However, our group of adrenaline junkies loved this near death experience screaming at the driver ‘Vamos!!’. One thought that eased my mind is that the drivers are super experienced and have grown up in the area dune buggy riding their whole lives. With that in mind, Vamos!!
And, if you are thinking the sand boarding element of the adventure is going to be more tame, think again. This is definitely the highlight for adrenaline – junkies. During the tour, you take on about 8 mammoth sand dunes. As I was peering off the cliff, all I was thinking was holllyyy hell this is steep. However, if you manage to push through the initial fear, you don’t go half as fast as expected. One tip I would give if you want to control your speed is to dig your feet into the sand.
Tips to Improve your sandy experience!
- Wear old clothes & shoes you are happy to get extremely sandy;
- Bring a camera case for your phone or camera if you wish to bring it down the dunes. Otherwise, it will get totally wrecked!
- There is potential to get injured so make sure you have adequate travel insurance.
How to get to Huacachina?
If you are coming from Cusco, you can get the Civa cama overnight bus for 110 soles per person. This leaves Cusco at 6pm in the evening and arrives at Ica at 11am the next day.
Alternatively, from Lima, it is a 4-6 hour bus ride away (depending if you take a direct service) and costs around 25 soles per person with Peru Bus.