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Published: August 26th 2009
AUGUST 10. HUACACHINA. DESERT OASIS. SAND IN MY SOCKS. "Two jumps in a week, I bet you think that's pretty clever don't you boy? Flying on your motorcycle, watching all the ground beneath you drop" -Radiohead
After leaving Mancora I skipped through Lima, only staying long enough to enjoy a starbucks mocha frappucinio...a little creature comfort in what has otherwise been a long week. Everybody I have met so far has insisted that I see Huacachina and I was quietly excited boarding the bus for the 4 hour trip south to Ica, from where a 10 minute taxi ride drops you into one of the most surreal landscapes you can ever imagine...think of a Salvador Dali painting a scene after not having drunk a glass of water for 10 years.
Nestled in between 15 story high sandunes lies a tiny lagoon, the water it provides supporting the oasis town that hugs its shores. Scorching hot during the day and decidely chilly at night, small bands of thrill seekers detour to this bizarre little town for only two reasons...dune buggy rides and sandboarding. The afternoon that I arrived I took a small walk around and then climbed up the
shoulder of the behemouth of a sandune that towers over one side of the village. From the top, astounding views of the surrounding desert, the nearby city of Ica seeming to be wallowing in the depths of a great sandy ocean...the constant wind blowing sand in my eyes. From here I watched the sun set and then jumped down the side of the sand dune back to town...what was a 45 minute hike to the top only translated to 5 minute descent, the sand in my shoes adding at least another 5 kilos to my short walk back to the hostal.
Waiting for the dune buggy ride the next afternoon I watched my driver enter the parking area, motor screaming and wheels screaching around the tight corner. I am going to admit being a little scared at this point...these drivers are notoriously dangerous and only last week heard stories of a crash, one girls trip ended when two buggies collided, breaking her leg after being impaled by the gear stick.
Screaming up the first hill out of town, the adrenalin started pumping through everyones veins. A dune buggy highway opened up in front of us and the driver
new all the best hills to throw us up against to get us screaming. You could never really tell if that drop we were approaching was going to be 2 metres or 20 and that just added to the excitement. There were a number of stops along the way for photo taking and sandboarding down the hills. The scenery here is breathtakingly beautiful...mother nature doing what she does best, making beautiful, beautiful lines.
I initially tried to come down the dunes standing up but soon realised that it wasnt going to work...the boards were poor, hand made imitations and if you like your ankles to remain attached to your legs I would suggest going down on your stomach. The sandboarding was actually a little dissapointing to be honest, allthough the very last dune we had to go down made everybody pause, swallow and reconsider...the speed wobbles at the end leaving bruises on my forearms as I clung on for dear life trying to avoid coming off and swallowing a ton sand.
We began our return home after dark with the headlights on, the drivers cautious approach lulling me into a false sense of security...surely he wouldnt risk
anything crazy in the dark. Wrong. Before I knew it we were launching oursleves up sandunes and plummeting back down into the dark. On one of the last sandunes we caught air for what felt like 5 seconds and I thought I was surely going to die. We landed on the front, right hand wheel, rocked around for a bit but in the end landed safely...everybody breathed a sigh of relief when around the next dune the town came back into view.
Definitely not for that faint of heart...but what a ride!
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