Huacachina is a desert oasis in the sand dunes of Peru. Located in the Ica Province, it’s an easy one to miss, but this tiny town surrounding a green lagoon has something you’ll want to experience. If you do, I promise you, your face will hurt from smiling.

After heading down from Lima, and flying over the Nasca lines, the logical next step is to visit the sand dunes of Huacachina. There are just over 100 permanent residents of this teensy town, but thousands of tourists flock to the oasis for one main reason -— the dunes, specifically the dune buggy tours.

The dune buggy and sandboarding tours are epic. There aren’t many regulations in Peru and the drivers will take you on a ride you won’t soon forget. The buggies fly over the dunes stopping at progressively higher ones so that you can participate in the second aspect of this tour -— sandboarding. It’s not like snowboarding, and you’re more likely to seat your ass than stay upright, but they also give you the option of zooming down on your stomach (which I recommend). Just one tip, keep your mouth closed or you’ll be picking sand out of your teeth long into the night.

How to get there

5 hours south of Lima and just an hour east of the Pacific coast is Huacachina. The closest town is Ica. Coming from Lima, the best way is to take a bus -— Cruz del Sur, Peru Hop and Soyuz have frequent trips —- to Ica and then a 10 minute cab ride to Huacachina.

What to consider

  • The town is so tiny you can walk around the entirety of it in a few minutes.
  • Taxis frequently go to Ica.
  • Did you know Peru makes wine? You can take wine tours (and even better taste the Pisco) in Ica—they range from industrial operations to very rustic antiquities.
  • From late February to early March is the grape harvest, and if you’re in Ica then, you might be encouraged to take off your shoes and help squash the grapes, a la I Love Lucy.
  • You’ll want to catch the sunset from the tops of the dunes. Most of the afternoon tours will keep you on the dunes to see the sun dip.
  • Bring cash to Huacachina. There’s only one ATM in the town, and it’s often out of money.
  • You can stay in Huacachina, but the food and drink is way overpriced. It’s worth the charm of it, though.
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