Advantages Sand boarding, sand buggy - a great adventure
Disadvantages Very easy to get burnt
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
Huacachina is a tiny village in Peru, containing a famous oasis and for which tourism is the main industry. It is located in the coastal region of Peru, close to Ica, after which the region is named, and is most of a day's drive by bus South of Lima, a similar distance North of Nazca, and is not far from the Pan-American highway, the main route through Peru.The coastal region of the South of Peru is a vast desert. The deserts in this area have several names, depending on the location, but they are all a continuation of the same desert of which the Atacama in neighbouring Chile is the most famous part (famous for being the driest place on the Earth). So the Oasis at Huacachina is a spectacular sight - a very rare place of greenery in an otherwise relentlessly bleak landscape.
It is a tiny location, although it does have a few restaurants, bars and clubs; these are very cheap by UK standards (but expensive for Peruvian) - we ate for less than £10 per person for a lunch with wine. Vegetarians here will generally get a dish of rice and beans (you'd better get used to that if you are veggie in Peru!), but meat eaters should try the coastal fish dish ceviche (don't eat this outside of the coastal regions - it's raw). We passed through here en route South, but you can stay here - tourism is the main industry here.As well as palm trees and a lake, it is home to a thriving adventure sport industry - people come here for the sand buggy rides and to try the sand boarding, which cost about US $65 (about £30). Most of our group opted for the adventure tour, but a couple stayed to look at jewellery and to visit a nearby museum.
You start the exhilarating trip in a much calmer manner by driving slowly through urban roads: the sense of poverty here amongst the majority of the population outside the immediate tourist hotels was very tangible. Then you turn off-road and take to the dunes and the adrenaline adventure starts as the driver hurls you around, doing fast turns, taking you up and down what feel like impossibly steep hills (giving you the feeling you are about to roll!) and hurtling towards what appear to be cliffs, but are just the lip of another steep hill. It is a breathtaking experience.These steep and high dunes shift over time, so the trails you follow are only occasionally visible in front of you, and not well-carved. Once you have lost sight of the town, it feels like the dunes go on for ever - it would be extremely easy to get lost here were the vehicle to break down. For the most part, the sand is firm enough to drive on - it does not feel like cycling on the beach does.
Then, when you reach a particularly tall dune, the driver tells you about the other half of your trip: "who wants to go sandboarding?"
In conclusion, this is a great place to go for a spot of rest and relaxation, but even better for adventure sports.
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