Huacachina is a little oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert, south of Lima. This little village looks like you would imagine that desert oasis. A palm trees around a little lake, dunes all around it. I didn’t believe that a place like this even exists so I wanted to visit it. Truth is, it is such a small village, that there aren’t too many things to do in Huacachina. I spend there two days, mainly because I wanted to rest up and chill a little bit after my incident with the hotel scam. But anyway, it is still an amazing place to visit and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is traveling around Peru.
Things to do in Huacachina
Essentially there are just a couple of things to do, and they might not be for everyone. So if you are planning to visit this little oasis in the middle of massive Peruvian dessert, don’t expect to spend a week here, more like a day, maybe two.
1, Hike in the dunes
There is a really big dune just above of Huacachina. If you like hiking or good views, it takes only about half an hour until an hour to hike it. It depends on how good the hiker you are. But it is not too difficult, just count that you will be walking in sand, so the terrain is slightly more difficult to walk in. If you are visiting Peru in their wintertime (June-August), I would recommend to hike it after 10 o’clock, when it finally starting to be better weather. If this would be Africa, it might be very dangerous to hike somewhere in the midday. But here you might get nicely warm.
From the top of the dune, you will get an amazing view of Huacachina. Sadly you will also see the village of poorer Peruvian, which is located just behind this dune. But I guess that just belongs to the reality of traveling.
If you decide not to come here during the day, the sunset is stunning from here. But if you decide to be here for the sunset, take something warmer with you because once the sun is down it is getting chilly.
2, Buggy tour
This is a super popular thing to do. It cost about 30 soles, you get to be in the middle of the desert and drive around in a buggy. Now don’t get me wrong, it will not be you who will do the driving. Most of the time it is someone who knows how to drive a buggy in the desert the way that you are safe but at the same time, it is still fun.
It is really fun and almost every hotel here offers the tour otherwise you can also order it online. I went for the sunset drive which took about two hours. It was about an hour and a half of fun and half an hour staring at the sunset. This belongs to one of the most popular things to do in Huacachina.
The clothes are the key here. In the middle of the day, you are probably fine with shorts, later than that, remember to take something to keep you warm.
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The sandboarding is not part of only the buggy tour. If you want, you can rent a board in the village for a different amount of time and just do it your self anywhere you want. And there is a lot of dunes around Huacachina, so it is easy to spend the whole afternoon like this. It is also relatively easy to learn and at the same time, you cannot hurt yourself while doing it. The worse thing that can happen would be to fall in the sand. And yes, you can probably spring your ankle, but most of the time it is harmless. You can borrow the board in Huacachina for just 15 soles per day and then just have fun with it. Most people would be able to do this just for a couple of hours, kind of just try it.
If you want to do it in the middle of the desert, some tours also offer sandboarding, which is fun, but just count that you will have sand everywhere. They might also show you a different style of sandboarding. I used to picture sandboarding as a sitting on a board and sliding down. Or if you are pro, you could stand on it and surf the same way as people do in the sea. Well, the driver on my tour had a different opinion and make us lie on the board, which was exciting, but it is not for everyone, some people quit before doing it. The dunes were just too steep. But it is not dangerous at all. It is just something very different.
4, Chill around the lake
I feel like this was one of the most beautiful places to chill. Just take a book and enjoy the nature around you. The lake is directly in the middle of Huacachina village.
It is also possible to bathe in the lake. But I have seen only locals doing it. So if you are brave enough, you can do it as well. And the water isn’t dirty but it can be very cold, depending on when are you coming. I came here when it was winter season in Huacachina. This means that the warmest was just around 20 degrees, but that was in the middle of the day. And otherwise, there wasn’t a good temperature for bathing. It might be quite cold in the morning when the temperatures go under 0. But also quite refreshing.
5, See the sunset in the desert
So, as I already mentioned, Huacachina is surrounded by desert. A pretty big one. If you want to show something to the romantic soul inside you, go and watch the sunset in the desert. It is one of the most beautiful things that you can see in Huacachina and possibly the best way to end the day here.
If you are doing something like that, be careful and unless you have a guide, don’t go too far from the village. Deserts are nice but at the same time, they can be very dangerous. It is very easy to get lost in it. So here is a piece of advice – there is a lot of tours with buggies or sandboarding, that would offer evening tour with sunset in the desert.
Otherwise, if you do it alone and without any disruption, there is a lot of dunes around Huacachina. So you can hike on one at around 4 pm and then just wait for a little bit until the sun goes down. Don’t forget to bring a light with you, that way it is safe to visit and at the same time, see the sunset in the desert.
Things to do around Huacachina
If you want to make Huacachina as your base, there are a couple of things that you can do around. For example, Huacachina is the only hour from Paracas and it’s a nature preserve. You can also visit there Ballestas islands, which are quite famous with all the wildlife around which also includes penguins, cormorants, and even sea lions. It is pretty easy to spend the whole day in Paracas with all the things that you can do there.
If you want to head to Paracas, you can just hop on a bus in Ica and you will be there in an hour. There is a lot of bus companies going there, so you won’t have a problem doing this as a day trip from Ica. so a lot of companies offer a tour from here. It cost only about 70 soles and usually, there is food including in it.
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Another place to visit could be Ica, which is located only 10km from Huacachina. Most of the people would get there by taxi, which is also the easiest way. Besides, it cost only 10 soles to go there.
Well, anyway, what can you do in Ica? So, first of all, you can – and should – try local wineries. It is something that Ica is well-known for. And so you can easily hop on a wine tasting tour. There are two main wineries there. The first one is Hacienda Bodega Tacama and the other one, also a famous one would be called El Catador. Both of them offer tours and degustation for prices from 30 soles and more. It is not too much considering the high quality of the wines and how many of them you will get to taste.
Another thing about Ica is that the whole town is relatively very historical and so you can visit here not only wineries but also colonial churches, cathedral, and other interesting places.
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The famous Nazca lines are only 2 hours away from Huacachina. It is also something that is widely offered in the tour package. And if you are planning to go to Nazca from Huacachina, you should consider going on a tour, otherwise, you would need to catch an early bus, and then find a company that would get you a flight over the lines.
On tour from Huacachina, you would have the whole package. But prepare yourself for the price. Because you would need to fly over Nazca lines (it is the best way to see them anyway), you would pay at least 120USD per the tour. It is certainly not the cheapest place, but it is something, that is certainly worth it.
How to get to Huacachina
Because it is such a small place, you need to go to Ica first. There is a lot of bus companies going to Ica. Overall it is just 4 hours from Lima, so it is not difficult to get here. From Ica, just ask for a taxi that would get you to Huacachina. It usually costs about 15 soles to get there and because Huacachina is such a small place, most of the taxi drivers know the hotels.
This oasis is starring to be busy places with tourists, you can easily find here a place where they would store your luggage in case your hotel doesn’t offer such services. That comes very handy on your way back, where you might need to wait for a bus from Ica.
Where to stay?
Once you enter the village, you will see that the whole village has more hotels than locals. So there is plenty of option for any traveler. If you are a luxury traveler, you might appreciate something with a swimming pool and bar. One of the best options here would be hotel Wild Rover. Whole new hotel with a swimming pool and a live bar. At the same time, the price for two people for one night is just a 38USD.
If you are looking for something more middle range, there is a hotel, where I stayed and was very nice in fact. Hotel Claudia has very nice rooms with private bathrooms and AC. The only thing that I was missing was breakfast in the morning. But otherwise, you would pay 28USD per night for two, which is a very reasonable price for the quality that they offer.
And lastly, backpackers. Normally I would be in one of that accommodation as well, but since I got scammed by another hotel in Ica, I had to choose any hotel anywhere around. So, here we go. There is a couple of hostels in Ica, but perhaps the most popular would be Desert night Hostel, which is for anyone who wants to see the full potential of Huacachina. You would have a bed in the dormitory from 7 dollars per night, luxurious area for hanging out and a great bar.
Where to eat?
There are a couple of options as well. But perhaps my favorite one was a restaurant at Wild Olive. You would find there local dishes, but also something from international cuisine. At the same time, the prices are relatively low and the food is very good. This specific place also offers breakfasts in case your hotel doesn’t.
What to pack for Huacachina?
So, a couple of things you should have in your bag. First of all, a sweater. The desert nights here can be pretty cold and you will definitely have something to warm you up.
The second and very important thing would be to have cash with you. There are some hotels, where you can pay by card, but in a lot of them you cannot or you would get a high commission fee. So you should withdraw your money in Ica, while you still can.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. It might be a little bit weird with the combination of a sweater, but in the middle of the day, you can still get burn, cause the sun is pretty intensive.
Where to go next:
The buses go to destinations like Nazca and Arequipa quite regularly. If you are planning to go to Nazca, consider to spend a day there, because there is a more to it than just a fly over the lines.
If you want to travel during the night to save the money for the hotel, which I would recommend, it is better to reserve the bus in advance.
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