Last week volunteers ventured to the desert oasis of Huacachina – truly magical paradise where you can sand-board down the dunes, relax by the pool and party the night away.
Huacachina is a traveler’s playground in the desert. After a few minutes’ driving out of the city of Ica the dunes begin to rise either side of you. Palm trees start to pop up from behind the dunes revealing the oasis. A stone walkway encircles the water enabling a civilised wander around the water’s edge. Numerous bars and restaurants are situated along the way with terraced seating allowing for food and drinks accompanied by an oasis view. As the day heads towards it’s hottest it’ll definitely be time for a cup of crushed ice drizzled with your choice of fruit syrups. Take it and relax on the sand bank at the waters edge where kids splash in the shallow waters and the parents lie back and enjoy the sun. To cool down head back to your chosen hotel or hostel and take a dip in the pool.
During the midafternoon it’s time for some action. Travelers start to head up the dunes to take an adrenaline fuelled sand-buggy ride. A fleet of buggies congregates at the top of the first small dune to collect willing participants for what’s described as a roller-coaster ride in the desert. Those who want a less thrilling experience can walk up the dunes armed with a sand-board. As the sun begins to set you should ditch any plans you may have and start to climb up the highest dune. As you will see, many of the inhabitants of Huacachina will slowly trudge up to then sink into the sand and watch the beautiful sunset. If you’re lucky there won’t be many clouds in the distance. As you look over the miles of undulating desert you’ll see the sun gradually disappear into the distance within a number of seconds.
Now the day is no longer, the nighttime activities begin to develop. As you descend the dune facing down towards the oasis, street lights dotted intermittently between the palm trees begin to flash on. The buggies roar as they race back from the empty desert towards Huacachina. Once dark it’s time for dinner. Choose one of the many restaurants by the oasis – the more authentic Peruvian the better. Carola Lodge houses one of the two clubs in Huacachina where you can go to continue the holiday vibes partying into the early hours.
Where to stay
For good atmosphere and holiday resort aesthetics choose either Carola Lodgeor Banana’s Adventures Hostel. Both have a pool and lounge areas. Banana’s has a more Hawaiian beach bar vibe with hammocks and wooden shacks for rooms. Whereas Carola’s has a European slick holiday resort look. Both offer good food and drinks with a BBQ dinner in the evenings.
How to get there
From Arequipa it’s a 10-11 hour overnight coach ride from the Terminal Terrapuerto in Arequipa to Ica. Most prices average at around £20 each. From Ica you can take a 15 minute taxi ride to Huacachina for 10 soles (£2.30).