The Huacachina Oasis
We’ve mentioned before that some of the best places you end up going on your travels are the ones you don’t find out about until you’re on the road. Huacachina was one of those – somewhere I knew I had to go as soon as it was described to me when I was in Florianopolis, Brazil in late 2012, a few months before I was due to go to Peru.
I had always remembered chatting to another backpacker who’d said, “There’s just something about the desert”, when talking about his preferred landscape. Even though that conversation had taken place seven years earlier, I still hadn’t made it to the desert by that stage, so his words, along with the image of an oasis surrounded by sand dunes meant that Huacachina sounded fairly appealing!
As it turned out, stopping off was also a great way to break up the trip between Cusco and Lima – even if three-quarters of the journey had been covered by the time I reached Ica, which is a short taxi ride from Huacachina.
Unfortunately, I’d picked up some sort of head cold and fever after visiting Machu Picchu, so my original plan of walking to the top of the sand dunes to get a view of the town and oasis was now off the cards. Instead, I wandered around the small town and by chance, ran into a Swiss couple that I’d climbed (and slid down) Volcán Villarrica with six weeks earlier. We’d also crossed paths in Santiago in between – it’s no South East Asia, but there’s still a pretty well-worn path in South America!
Funnily enough, almost everyone I talked to from then on had also ended up getting sick after staying a night or two in Aguas Calientes – the town closest to Machu Picchu. I’d be surprised if the damp budget hotels which make it impossible to dry any clothes are somehow unrelated!
Fortunately, I wasn’t that sick that I had to miss out on one of the main reasons people flock to Huacachina – dune buggys and sand boarding. Although, I have to admit that my sand boarding went about as well as I expected…
The dune buggy ride on the other hand is, to this day, one of the best things I’ve done on my travels and something I highly recommend! The video below from our sister site, Budget Travel Hub should give you a rough idea!
On the way back, we stopped off just before reaching Huacachina, in order to take in the view of the town and oasis that I had missed out on earlier in the day. As you can see, it was well worth the wait and, along with not having to walk up the dunes to get there, the sunset pretty much convinced me that it was a far better option anyway!
As for the backpacker that I’d met years before, well, he was right – there is just something about the desert and I can safely say that it’s now my favourite type of travel destination too.