The little town of Huacachina is beyond amazing. We only spent one night there but every moment of it was so much fun! If you are around the Lima area, I highly suggest visiting this place. Disclaimer: This post if filled with way too many sunset photos. But I don’t care!
There was only one minor travel issue (yay!) on the way down which consisted of Megan and I hanging out too long at the airport after we landed in Lima, losing track of time, and then barely making our bus to Ica! The Cruz del Sur bus station in Lima is about 3 times as big as the one in Cusco so we didn’t anticipate such long lines to get our tickets and check our bags. The ticketing system at the bus station is sort of like going to the DMV–you receive a number from a self-serve kiosk based on the reason you are there. In our case, we needed to get a hard copy of our tickets. Trying to decipher which number/category to choose was the first time Megan and I truly realized how poor our Spanish skills really were–we didn’t understand any of the options! Except for the first option, which was to purchase tickets–the ONLY option we knew we didn’t need.
Megan ended up frantically selecting every option, hoping that 1 out of our 5 numbers would be called before our bus left without us. While we were fumbling with our numbers and trying to figure out where we could check our backpacks, we realized that a few of the numbers were being called all at once so I grabbed them from Megan and ran to the first teller yelling, “Es mi numero! Es mi numero!” so that they wouldn’t pass us up. I almost had to hip-check a guy who was trying to get to the teller before me! I’ll never know what the number was actually for but fortunately, we got our tickets, checked our backpacks and made it on the bus with about 5 minutes to spare :) It was a 4.5 hour bus ride to Ica and then we got a taxi to the little town of Huacachina.
Huacachina wraps around a small lagoon in the middle of the desert. You can literally walk around this lagoon in about 15-2o minutes. The town itself is pretty average, with little shops, restaurants, and hotels along the main street but the view of the desert just outside the town is incredible.
Our hostel here was…interesting :) When we arrived, it was very late at night and the first thing we did was head to our room. It was our first private room of the trip and we were so excited! Until we realized that it shared a wall with the group bathroom and had a window that opened up to the bathroom (why???). You could hear EVERYTHING. We heard every little detail in private conversations, people coming in one at a time to brush their teeth, and I swear that one person even heard me whisper to Megan, “They forgot to turn off the lightttttt….” because all of a sudden we heard footsteps running back to the bathroom and then the lights turned off. Oops! And when we woke up in the morning, there was some sort of construction going on in the courtyard just outside our door. This was probably the worst hostel we stayed at during our time in Peru but I’m sure it would have been much better experience if we just had a different room.
However, the courtyard (pictured above) was amazing and had a bunch of hammocks for us to relax in, and the beautiful flowers and trees made everything feel like paradise, which totally made up for the weird room situation.
We ventured around town to grab a bite to eat before our dune buggy tour and our view during lunch overlooked the lagoon–so amazing. For the first time during our trip, we finally ordered ceviche! We also grabbed a plate of chicharrones mixto (deep fried chicken, fish, shrimp, squid) and it was really tasty especially when paired with an Inca Kola (the local soda that tastes like bubble gum). Everything was delicious and the people at the restaurant were incredibly friendly. They even gave us some fresh passion fruit juice on the house.
After lunch, we walked around the lagoon a bit more and then waited for our dune buggy and sandboarding tour. We bought the tour through the hostel and it was SO WORTH IT! For only 30 soles (less than $11) we were driven around huge sand dunes and given sandboarding lessons. It was one of the best experiences throughout our whole trip! Pics don’t do it justice but I’ll try…
The dune buggy ride was probably our favorite part of the tour. The tour guide drives really fast and finds huge sand dunes for the buggy to go over so it feels like you’re on a roller coaster in the middle of the desert! Here’s a short video clip of our ride:
The buggy ride was probably about 70% of the tour so we got to see a lot of the desert area!
Sandboarding was really fun as well. It’s pretty much like snowboarding except the boards are very basic and you get sand everywhere! We were guided down two huge dunes. Some of the girls went down on their stomachs and others stood up. Megan and I stood up but after struggling with keeping the weak velcro straps fastened we realized that it’d probably be more fun to just lay on our bellies and penguin it down the dunes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go again so we never got to try going head first!
Our entire group hopped back into the buggy after sandboarding, and our tour guide raced to the top of a huge sand dune so we could catch the sunset. It was so ridiculously gorgeous–Megan and I couldn’t believe it.
Cue obsurd amount of sunset photos…
Oh, and let’s also add this sunset video in the mix while we’re at it :)
After the sunset, we were driven to a dune that overlooks the town of Huacachina. What an oasis! It was the perfect way to end the day and tour. Once we got back into town, Meg and I grabbed a taxi and headed back to the bus station so we could catch the bus back to Lima where we would spend one night before heading off to Ecuador!
[Two more travel posts coming up next week and then normal posts will resume :)]