Huacachina Desert and Oasis
Huacachina is a coastal desert located in the Ica region. It holds one of the few oases in the whole region: a blue-green lake amid huge sand dunes under a beautifully clear sky. Take a dune buggy so that you can ride all over the dunes before riding a sand board down. This is the definition of a touristic little town, and it is definitely worth a visit. You'll find some nice hostels ands lodges where you can stay overnight right in the middle of the oasis. Huacachina Oasis is a short four-hour drive from Lima, and there are also plenty of buses that will bring you here.
By Ana Paula Bedoya, AFAR Local Expert
Get Lost in the Peruvian desert!
The town of Ica is just a few hours south of Lima, and 10 minutes from Ica is the true oasis of Huacachina... Jump on a bus from Lima, which are quite luxurious these days, or get onto a group trip in a combi (mini-bus) from an outfitter. You'll arrive in Huacachina and see this green hued lagoon with palm trees and small sleepy buildings. It is right out of the Lawrence of Arabia scenario, and the gigantic dunes all around simply seduce you to climb, climb, climb the dune summits, which afford you views of the never ending desert sand in every direction.. If you can see a sunset or sunrise, do try as it is one of the best memories of my South American travels! After you get over all the awe, strap a san board to your feet and barrel down the dunes with the wind blowing your hair back..... You can rent boards in Huacachina and enjoy simple fare lunch/dinners at the small cafes and restaurants. Also a handful of simple hostals here if you want to stay a couple days and soak up the desert...
Dune buggy ride for the thrill-seeker
HOLY cow. Dunebuggying down these towering sand dunes was one of the wildest and craziest experiences of my life. Depending on the driver that you get to take you and your sandboard up, you may easily find yourself in a serious "holy shit" moment. Loosely buckled with no helmet, we bombed down dunes - which felt more like cliffs - at shocking speeds, just to climb the next dune and do it over again and again. It was amazing!
Speeding Up and Down Sand Mountains in a Peruvian Oasis
Just 5 minutes away from the bustling city of Ica, Peru, rests something quite out of place: a lagoon in the middle of the desert. Like a mirage, this emerald oasis in the surrounding village of Huacachina attracts tourists and adrenaline junkies alike, providing a huge boost in commerce to this otherwise traditional culture, where grapes are the main source of prosperity to make wine and Pisco for world wide distribution. When visiting, don't pass up dune-buggy driving or sand-boarding in the desert - one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life!