Huacachina is a true desert oasis with fewer than 100 permanent residents. Yet despite its small permanent population it has become a hub for toursists and it’s easy to see why! The little town sits nestled amongst mountainous sand dunes and centres its activity around the lake at its epicenter. It is the home of the Peruvian national drink, Pisco and the famed sandboarding. If you come to Huacachina, you need to try both!
Things To Do!
This is likely a once in a lifetime experience for most of us and is definitely worth putting on your bucket list if heading out to Peru! Sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding; professionals wear boots and stand up to ride the dunes, but for the beginners, we went down lying flat on the board… face first. Expect plenty of mouthfuls of sand, lost hats and total wipe outs!
What you need to know..
There are two experiences to choose from – the first is the basic package, here you basically go up to the top of the sand dunes and go down from the top of the hill stomach down on the board, face first (keep your mouth closed!! ). The second is the pro package which is more like snowboarding, you start on a baby slope and learn the basics of standing up and try your hand at getting down the slope without falling on your face. The pro is roughly double the price of the basic package but you do get more proactive attention from the instructors.
Be prepared to find sand in places you didn’t know existed for weeks after you’ve left!! I came back from sandboarding with a small Sahara in my shoes and no amount of showering seemed to shift the relentless little grains which kept appearing long after we left Huacachina. If you have a sand aversion, sandboarding may not be for you!
You get quite the work out… When I saw the size of the sand dune we were about to climb my stomach hit the floor, not because I was scared of sliding down it, au contraire I was looking forward to that bit, it was the thought of getting up it that terrified me! It was most definitely a slog I can tell you and by the time we reached the top my thighs were burning, my lungs felt like they might pop and I’d been whipped by many a mini tournado of sand. Unless you’re incredibly fit, it will be hard work to get to the top, a 20 minute uphill clamber on sand for a 3 second thrill ride right back to where you started, but hey, it’s worth it!
Dune Buggy Riding
Unfortunately, due to an accident which ended in the fatality of two tourists just before our visit, we were unable to enjoy this particular activity. However, the tour operators were pushing for yours to once again go ahead and we’d have loved to do it given the opportunity. This activity is usually combined with sandboarding as a package and looks fantastic!
Due to incidents like the one mentioned above, ensure you book a tour with a licensed, reputable company who aren’t going to put you at risk. We recommend find local trips for this reason.
Watch The Sunset From On Top Of The Dunes
Sunsets are beautiful at the best of times but sat on the sand watching the sun slip behind the dunes, throwing shades of orange into the sky just seemed to give it that spectacular edge. If you’re in Huacachina you should definitely put this on your bucket list…. Even if it does mean climbing the dunes again!
Take warm clothes as it gets chilly when the sun goes down and sunglasses to protect your eyes from both the sun and the sand which gets whipped up off the dunes.
Take A Tour Of A Pisco Winery
The winery is only a short ride away from Huacachina. Many hostels and hotels offer a tour for around 20 soles but if you travel with Peru Hop this is included free.
You can enjoy a quick tour around the winery with guide who chats about how the Pisco is made, detailing the different parts of the process and then we got to taste some! We were quite shocked as they were very liberal with the free samples (maybe hoping if they plied us with alcohol then we may be merry enough to fork out more money)! They allowed you pouringo try different pisco varieties including wine, sours and the Peruvian take on Bailey’s. Watch out for one christened the “baby-maker” a sweet white pisco wine which tastes like juice, I can see how many a baby was made after drinking a few glasses of that! It should come with a warning label.
Where To Stay!
Eco Camp Hotel
I could not recommended this place enough for those wanting relatively cheap luxury and a little something different!
Set back in the dunes at the far side of the lake, eco camp makes you feel like you’re part of Arabian nights (I ld like point out, my geography isn’t that bad people! I do know that’s in the Middle East and I’m talking about Peru, but you get my gist), large white tents, tasteful bamboo verandas and a very inviting looking swimming pool greet you upon arrival.
Inside the tents are large double beds packed down with alpaca blankets to keep you snug through the desert nights -it was one of the best nights sleep I had in Peru! There is electricity, lockable storage and towels and your own personal veranda with table and chairs so you can soak up the afternoon sun.
Just make sure you remember which tent is yours as I did have a Bridget Jones moment and waltzed (with confidence) straight into soneone else’s tent! They all look the same!!
Breakfast was also the best we’d had! There was a selection of fruit juices, scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, bread, a mixture of fruit and avocado (I get very excited about avocados)!
What’s more to stay in this place won’t break the bank and if traveling with Peru Hop you get a 20% discount on your stay!
- Traveling with Peru Hop is a great way to not only get to Huacachina, but also to organise tours, get discounts on accommodation and restaurants and travel in a stress-free way around Peru. If you’d like to learn more click here… www.peruhop.com
- It is very hot and sunny during the day but very cold at night so bring both your hats, sunglasses and suncream AND your coats and jackets.
- Find Local Trips is a great website to book excursions throughout South America. They provide a list of reputable, fairly priced companies and it’s simple to book with them at any point during your trip. We booked almost all our tours through them during our time in Peru and always had a great experience. Check them out here … findlocaltrips.com
- For sandboarding ensure your hat and sunglasses are firmly attached! So many belongings got lost to the sand dunes! Also ensure you wear closed toed shoes and cover your arms and legs, sand burn is a real thing people and it hurts like hell!!
- Take a day to relax! If you’re backpacking through Peru as we were, at times it can be pretty heavy going. We took a rest stop in Puno bit both agreed we wish we’d stopped to enjoy the sanctuary of the desert for one more night instead. If you want to take a rest stop we advise doing it here!
If you liked this post or are thinking about traveling to South America check out my other blog posts here… http://travelsofababy-vet.com/category/travel/south-america/
If you’d like to know more about traveling with Peru Hop check out my honest review here …. http://travelsofababy-vet.com/worth-honest-truth-travelling-peru/
Disclaimer: some companies listed above have partnered with ‘Travels of a Baby-vet’ however all opinions are honest and my own.