Huacachina Oasis: The golden yellow desert
Huacachina is a village in southwestern Peru, built around a small oasis surrounded by sand dunes. It is in the Ica Province, 300 km south of Peru.
Is that a mirage?!?! I think so, or…nop, it’s Huacachina!! Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess removed her clothes to bathe, but looking into a mirror, she saw a male hunter approaching her from behind. Startled at the intrusion, she fled the area leaving behind her mirror which turned into a lake. Legends or not, just 5 km from the city of Ica lies a picturesque lagoon surrounded by big sand dunes. While not as famous as Nazca to the South, Huacachina, this aesthetically perfect desert oasis is a firmly established stopover on Southern Peru’s backpacking journey, and we have good reasons to say it. We spent 2 days with romantic dinners, excursions between big dunes, watching amazing sunsets and meeting travellers that occupied the small village for 80% of the inhabitants.
Water stopped seeping into the lake in the 1980s and this has now started to become a threat to the lagoon. Recently, private landowners near the oasis have installed wells, which has reduced the level of water in the oasis. To compensate for this water loss, and preserve the oasis as an aesthetically pleasing destination for tourists, a group of ten businessmen devised a plan to pump water from a nearby farm into the lagoon. Locals have taken advantage of this unusual setting in Huacachina and set up hotels, hostels, cafés and restaurants, souvenir stalls and small tour companies around their natural resort.
We spent 2 days with romantic dinners, excursions between big dunes, watching amazing sunsets and meeting travellers that occupied the small village for 80% of the inhabitants. Let’s talk about stuff to do here. You can rent sand-boards for 5€ an hour to slide, surf or ski your way down the dunes, getting sand lodged into every bodily orifice. Or just ask to the reception of your hostel, they offer thrill-rides in Dune buggies which head out early morning and late afternoon, to avoid the intense sun. What’s the most interesting thing to do?! A day relaxed spent hanging out around the lagoon. There are peddle boats that you can rent for an hour to soak up the sun. Maybe it comes to mind to swim here, the lagoon’s murky waters supposedly have curative properties. Anyway, you will find swimming in the hotel’s pool more inviting.
Imagine… It’s 6 pm and you are sitting atop a giant wind-sculpted sand dune watching the sunset over a golden yellows and rusty reds. Two hundreds meters below you lays a dreamy desert lagoon ringed by exotic palm trees, and furnished with a clutch of rustic yet suitably elegant, and not, hotels. It took you 20 minutes to climb up the dune, bring with you a 6-back beers please, you will enjoy this moment.
How to get there, best time and cost
The only way to get to Huacachina is from Ica by taxi, it costs about 5 € one way. There you can go around looking for you hostel, book it during the high season because it’s going to be crowded of tourist. If you are in Lima, you need to take a bus to Ica, 4 1/2 hours.
Best time is from November to May. Complexly is a cheap place, even if you choose the more luxury hotel to stay. Full of restaurants and relaxing place, you will enjoy your time there.
Here how to discover South America in 2 minutes! Me and my wife in our best 120 shots of 6 months of travel… Enjoy
- Though safer than Ica, Huacachina is not a place to be lax about your personal safety. Be aware, some guesthouses have reputations for ripping off travellers.
- Watch the sunset from the rim of the dunes, amazing colours and views. Anyway bring 2 Lt of water and/or another 2 of beer. 😀
- You don’t need to rent a scooter or something else in the village, the town is extremely small, and backpackers can walk from one end to another within a few minutes.
- There are many activities to do in Huacachina and they are best done as part of an organised tour.
- My last tip: Don’t get stuck with the thing that ruins your day. Life is too short to be wasted in your crap. Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling.
Author of this post: Davide
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