I arrived in Huacachina early in the afternoon and immediately fell in love with it. In fact, it might be safe to say it’s my new favourite place. Certainly, it will be hard to beat on the rest of the trip.
Huacachina is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert, beset on three sides by tall sand dunes. It’s a tiny town and takes all of ten minutes to walk around. But it’s enchanting in its beauty, Once you get past the stray dogs and the people constantly trying to sell you dune buggy tours. Of course, I fully recommend you do that, but it does get tiresome once you have agreed to one to keep getting asked.
As I mentioned one of the main activities in Huacachina is going out in a dune buggy and trying sandboarding. Peru Hop are nice enough to sort this all out for you for 50 sol which is about £10 or $15.
So we met at our designated meeting point and began the arduous process of being put into our assigned buggy. I was in the front with another guy and the driver. It was a bit of a squeeze with my shoulders and I almost couldn’t get the harness to attach as there appeared to be no way to change the length of the straps. But I managed and we were on our way.
Unfortunately, our buggy, or our driver, was struggling and we stalled a couple of times and never really got to any speed at the beginning. Our first stop was on top of a dune just overlooking the oasis. A perfect photo opportunity. So we all got out to take our photos, selfies and to bother others to take pictures of us. Despite my tone, I did obviously take some photos, I even took a cheeky selfie but it was awful. It was a breathtaking view though and cemented my affection for this place.
We carried on to our next stop, and again suffered difficulty which left us stuck on a dune until another driver came to our rescue. After that we were fine but it was a disappointing start to the trip. Our next stop was another good photo opportunity with the sun hanging low in the sky. My buggy buddy offered to take a photo of me, which to be honest I am pretty happy with.
So our third stop signalled the beginning of our sand boarding adventure. Now I must admit I had my reservations about this part, and I wasn’t the only one and nerves were certainly showing amongst some of us. Not being foolish enough to try going down standing up we started on our stomachs. Which was an interesting experience. The dune was incredibly steep and we picked up some speed going down. Everyone was hesitant to go first, but one of the girls volunteered. I tried to go third or fourth after that. Having no desire to stand on the top of the dune letting my nerves build out of control.
What followed was several goes on different dunes, walking back up was the hardest part and left you particularly exhausted. I never tried standing up. I strapped myself in several times to try but could never quite find the courage to give it a go.
Sandboarding was exhilarating and kinda fun. I’m in no real hurry to go back and do it again, but I’m glad I did it. Now I just have to get the sand out of my shoes.
Our guide called us back to the buggy as the sun was setting soon and we had to get to the best spot to view it. So we pilled into the buggy and sped off. Fortunately, our previous problems seemed to have left us and we all held on over the rises and falls, being thoroughly shaken around.
The sunset was beautiful and well worth the hurried drive. The world appeared to be divided into three with the dark blue of the sky, the yellow of the sand and the deep band of orange that stretched out between them. Once it started the sunset rapidly before leaving us for another day. But as the sun fell the temperature fell with it and we hastily put on the extra layers we had brought along for this reason.
During the ride back the driver really opened the buggy up and took us for an adrenaline-fuelled ride. As I was the front I had a great view as we plunged down dunes and worrying speeds. There were a few screams and yells from the buggy, I contributed my fair share and added some profanity at a few of the more excessive drops. Several times I had to put one hand on the roof of the buggy whilst I continued to hold onto the frame. It’s safe to say we were thoroughly shaken around on the trip back. Which was a lot of fun.
Back at the oasis:
After our exciting trip out in the dune buggy and a much needed shower to remove most of the sand from my hair and body we headed to one of the local hotels that doubles as a bar and restaurant for a barbecue that included a quarter of a chicken, a burger, unlimited drinks and a healthy amount of sides. Not a bad deal for 40 sol. It was a great evening and presented a great chance to socialise with some of the other people who had been on the tour. One thing is for sure, I’m certainly starting to develop a taste for Pisco, the national drink of Peru.
Huacachina balances the peaceful beauty of its oasis with the adrenaline pumping activities of the dunes and well worth a visit. Now you could “do” the town in one day, especially with Peru hop. But I really felt it deserved a couple of nights to take it all in. I certainly enjoyed sitting by the oasis and writing.