Huacachina Desert Oasis

Huacachina Desert Oasis girl on sand dune

Located about 5 hours from Lima, in the Ica region of Peru, you’ll find Huacachina, a small desert oasis. We stayed here for a couple of nights during our trip around Peru and were blown away by the vastness of the epic sand dunes that surround the central oasis and hotels.ย 

Huacachina is the only natural oasis in South America. From up on the dunes you can see the nearby city of Ica one way and vast sweeping desert for miles the other. This makes it perfect for it’s two main activites; sand-boarding and dune buggy tours that are super popular with both tourists and locals.

Huacachina Oasis
Huacachina town street view

Sand-boarding & Dune Buggy Tour

If you visit Huacachina, you can’t miss out on jumping in a dune buggy and riding around the dunes for a sand-boarding experience!ย Being the main tourism for the oasis, they have loads of dune buggies parked up and throughout the day you can hear the screams as they hurtle across the sand.

We booked our tour through Peru Hop as we were travelling around on their buses. However, you can find plenty of places in the town to book your tours. You can also pay to have a buggy to yourself if you prefer.

Huacachina Desert Oasis dune buggy
Huacachina red dune buggy

A group of 8 of us climbed into the buggy, strapped ourselves in and off the driver went, hurtling over the dunes and speeding down the drops. It’s a bumpy, adrenaline-filled ride as they throw you around the dunes, just as you think the buggy won’t make it up the hill you’ll be treated to a rollercoaster drop and twists and turns along the way.

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As part of the tour you each get a sand-board handed to you and have the chance to ride down different sized dunes on your stomach.

As they park on top of the tall sand dunes and you’re looking at your ride down, it can seem a bit daunting for the first one, but it’s suitable for all abilities and really fun! It doesn’t take much skill, you just lay on the boards keep your arms in and dig your feet into the sand to control your speed. Easy Peasy! Unless you’re Jay and mess up the landing and shoot yourself off the front of the board. Don’t worry, it didn’t happen to anyone else, just him!

Our tour was in the afternoon around 4pm, you can do a tour in the morning but at the end of ours they took us up to watch an amazing sunset over the dunes and the colours in the sky were incredible!ย 

Huacachina Desert Oasis desert sunset
Huacachina Desert Oasis Sand-boarding in the dunes
Huacachina dune buggies desert

As well as sand-boarding on your stomach, they also do tours where they teach you to sand-board standing up. If you are experienced with either sand-boarding or snowboarding, you can rent out boards and boots separately from the tours and do your own thing in the dunes as well.

We rented ours from a shop just opposite the Sand and Lake hotel. If you do it independently then you get them for a couple of hours, giving you longer to play around than you would with a tour.

Sunsets

Desert sunsets are the best way to end the day in Huacachina. There is a big dune nearby that most people seemed to trek up to for the best place to watch the sunset. It’s Best to get up there early and grab a spot to sit as you’ll find a lot of people on top of the dunes doing the same thing!

Top Tip

It can get pretty chilly at night in the desert so make sure to bring a jacket up there with you.

Huacachina sunset

What to bring/wear?

Now it’s pretty much a given that you are going to get very sandy on these tours seeing as you are sliding down the dunes. We wouldn’t recommend wearing anything too fancy, comfortable clothes are the way to go. Also make sure you wear trainers or sturdy shoes instead of flip flops as it makes it easier to control the board when you’re on it.

We didn’t take our camera with us on the tour just in case it got damaged. We just used our phones but a lot of people bought go-pros with them to capture the moments.

Huacachina walking in the sand
Huacachina couple in the desert

Where to stay?

Huacachina is aย  pretty small place so there isn’t a lot of choice when looking for places to stay. Most people were staying at the Wild Rover hostel, well-known as the party hostel. As we felt like getting some sleep we stayed down the street at Hotel Sand and Lake. The best thing was they had a restaurant downstairs we could go to. Around the oasis it seemed there was limited restaurants for the amount of people there were staying there, so if you didn’t get in early it could be hard to find somewhere to eat!

Top Tip

During our time in Huacachina, we found it’s best to be sat down in a restaurant by 7pm if you want to get a seat!

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