I always dreamt about crossing the desert on a camel; till recently, I wasn't aware that I could do so in my country! There is a magnificent desert, with colossal golden dunes, even bigger than those on the Sahara desert. A beautiful oasis is hidden in the desert: Huacachina is located only 5 km (10 minutes) away from Ica city and around 4 hours by car from Lima, the capital city. Its charm lies in its emerald green water lagoon and lovely palms, all surrounded by gigantic dunes; an image that brings in mind pieces of art by the famous surrealist Dali.
Legend has it that a mermaid used to live in the lagoon. Once upon a time, before the lagoon existed, a young maiden was the only inhabitant of this place; she used to brush her hair while looking at herself into a mirror. One day she fell deeply in love with a hunter. However, there was a God that wanted her all to himself, so he casted a spell on her and turned her into a mermaid. As he did so, the mirror crashed to the ground creating the Huacachina lagoon and her tunics blew away and transformed into sacred dunes. Locals say that she comes out at night, sometimes crying, sometimes singing. Be careful, if you approach her, she could take you deep into the water…- historiasperdidaseneltiempo.com
This beautiful place has mild weather all year long, and it’s a paradise for adventure sports lovers: buggies and sandboarding, is no doubt a perfect recommendation no one would say no to! It’s also a great plan whether you travel with your family or friends. A piece of excellent advice is to take the buggies tour in the afternoon, at around 3 pm. Tour companies abound in the entrance of Huacachina. The price is reasonable and includes the ascend to the hill in the buggy with other people and your own sandboard for descending. It is a two and a half hour tour, and you usually can "surf" the dune twice or even three times- if you have enough strength. It could be scary, especially because when you are on the hill, you realize that the dunes are colossal; they are just so big and steep. For sure, there are people who could feel intimidated. If that's your case, you should dare, fight your fears and let yourself go!
Buggies are uncovered cars, able to ascend the enormous dunes at full speed. If you are looking for some adrenaline, get into one of them! It feels like a roller coaster taking you higher and higher up the dune and then bringing you down so fast that you will feel your stomach moving. A Disneyland ride in nature. If you are not an "adrenaline junkie," then you will feel proud of yourself for doing this. One tip; sunglasses and sunblock help a lot and make the experience more enjoyable. In addition, wear sneakers and bring a jacket, as it’s going to be really windy by the end of the tour. Around 5 pm, just before the sunset, it’s time for taking your Instagram profile photo. Views are simply impressive and breathtaking from the top.
It’s already evening, the tour is over, and your body is full of sand. It’s time to go back to the oasis, look for accommodation, and have a shower. By the way, at night, Huacachina looks just as beautiful. There are a lot of options for accommodation for different budgets: youth hostels, hotels, and even Airbnb. The night is still young, and you can enjoy it at one of the friendly local spots for food, drinks and social meetings too. Everything is around the lagoon. Huacachina itself is a charming and small place that receives thousands of visitors during the whole year.
It is a fact that if you come to Huacachina, you can not skip the buggies, the sandboarding and the sunset on the dunes. But the Ica region has more surprises! You can actually complete a perfect two-days journey with other exciting activities on the next day. Visit the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve, where you can appreciate sea wolves and Humboldt penguins. In addition, a visit to a vineyard in Pisco city (Pisco is the Peruvian liquor, a distillate made from green grapes) would not disappoint. Last but not least, you can take an overflight up to the worldwide famous Nazca Lines, secrets on which, I'll reveal quite soon. All these places are only one hour away from Huacachina, and all of them are definitely worth experiencing.
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