Huacachina is a desert oasis about 10 kilometers outside of Ica — 3 hours from Lima and 12 hours from Arequipa.
We left Intiwawa around six, and 13 hours later we were in Huacachina! I managed to sleep basically from the moment the bus left the terminal in Arequipa till it pulled in to Ica (a feat both disturbing and fantastic), and arrived in a sleepy mystified trance.
Huacachina suited my mood: the dunes emanated an immense stillness that I wanted to mirror. The desert oozed ancient patience. Its enormity, density, and consistency calmed me; reminded me of the power in quietly maintaining identity. No need for a frenetic assertion of self.
There’s an irony to a once-vital refuge cum tourist destination, but there’s also a hilarious modernism. Why not put a nightclub at an oasis? And even though food and water come with gringo price tags, the city avoids feeling fake or contrived. In fact, our trip centered around sustainability: we stayed at the Desert Nights Ecocamp, which runs a trash recovery program in the surrounding dunes. Volunteers can eat and stay for free in exchange for four hours of trash recovery work each day. Find the program here.
We collected trash at dawn and dusk; got to see the sun rise and set on the dunes. In between, we rode around in an ATV, boarded down sand mountains, lay by the pool (there’s a pool!!!), and ate on terraces. Two full days was the perfect amount of time to do all the activities and also laze around doing nothing…………..and we still managed to get back in time for IntiWawa on Monday :).
Cruz del Sur, 50-90 soles one way. Bus leaves from Terrapuerto in Arequipa. Catch a taxi from Ica to Huacachina upon arrival, 6-8 soles. For your sake, I hope you sleep as well as I did.