Huacachina is a very small village (you can't really call it a town) about five minutes outside of Ica, south of Peru along the coastline. We took a 12 hour nightbus from Arequipa to Ica. If you are going on a long, overnight trip through Peru, I recommend Cruz del Sur. However, bring a pair of noise cancelling headphones if you want to sleep fairly early on the bus because they will have a movie and/or music blasting for a good two to three hours. It was very annoying.
But, we made it to Ica in good time. The bus wasn't overly uncomfortable, though being tall worked against me. It was difficult to find the comfortable position, but I think I did get a few hours of sleep. From Ica, we took a taxi to Huacachina and our first look at this lagoon in the middle of high desert dunes was amazing. It never gets that cold here, and if you can stand the slight smell, the lagoon waters are supposed to have some type of healing powers. We didn't try them out.
After checking in, we started to explore and came across a cafe/breakfast place...that had brewed coffee.
We haven't had brewed coffee since the morning we left Asheboro, N.C. It was absolutely amazing. AND to make it even better, we had milk to go IN the coffee. Heaven.
After the short (maybe ten minutes) walk around the entire village, we went back to Hostal Bananas (yes that is its name!) and just chilled their for the rest of the afternoon. We ran into some people that we met in Arequipa...and saw again in Colca Canyon...and again at the bus station. It was extremely nice to be able to chill poolside and then in some hamocks, reading a book and napping after a fairly uncomfortable overnight bus. We had booked a sandboarding/desert tour that would leave at 4:30, so we had a few hours.
The dune buggy's that you travel in throughout the desert for the different tours and sandboarding are pretty cool. We had a packed buggy, where Becca and I got to sit up front with the drive since we were one of the only parties of two. Awkwardly, since like all cars in Peru it was a manual, I made Becca sit in the middle with the stick shift in between her legs
since she has smaller legs.
You will usually leave the hostel or hotel in the buggy and have to pay an entrance tax/fee of about 3 soles. Our driver, Antonio, kind of cut the line and said we would pay when we got back. Since we were going in the afternoon, you had the chance to see the sunset over the lagoon and desert, but had the constriction of the sun going down and not being able to board as much. We didn't think anything of it as we sped into the desert.
One thing we were warned about by other travelers, locals, and guidebooks was the risk of having a reckless driver. Breathe easy because Antonio was very good. While it seemed others were speeding along, going up and down the sides of the dunes to make turns, our driver was very careful, which was nice.
We reached our first dune fairly quickly. At first, it seemed that we were just stopping to take pictures of the far off mountains to one side and the never ending dunes to the other. Another buggy joined us shortly and they got out their boards. We shortly followed suit.
can be taken out on the dunes
Luckily, instead of beginning by standing up like snowboarding, our first dune ride (which was super tall!) was to be lying on our stomachs, head first.
Becca went first, mainly because she was the closet to Antonio. He said "ready?" She said "no." And down she went. Like in bungee jumping, that first second is the scariest. But you don't want to scream, because otherwise you will get sand in your mouth. Going down the dune is fun, but once you get to the bottom due to the buggy's, other boarders, and walking, it is very bumpy.
From there we drove out a little further to where we would try standing up. We started on one dune and there were two others in front of you. You go down, then walk up a little (but in the sand it feels like a lot!), then repeat. I will admit, standing is terrifying. I've wiped out enough on a snowboard, that I really didn't want to injure myself again...I don't mind standing up to where if I fall, I will fall forward, but falling backwards always terrifys me. Thank you past experiences where I have almost gotten a concussion or
So my first time standing, I tried to avoid Antonio, mainly because I was mentally preparing myself and when he comes over, in what little English he knows...he says 'go' and pushes a little. I did fairly well, and since the sand gives, once you fall, it is very hard to keep going. Becca probably did the best in the group, as she got the farthest without falling...though when she fell...well let's just say that she is still saying her butt bone hurts.
We did those three dunes, and I thought that was it. But, Antonio suprised us and we went to one more place. This was probably the biggest one yet....We all joked that we were going to do this one standing up, but didn't really want to die, so lying down was the way to go. I'm proud to say that on our very last ride, I went the farthest, though I almost took out two of the British guys that went first. Be careful: once you hit the point where everyone has walked, it is extremely bumpy. So girls, wear a sports bra with a lot of support.
We did get to see
a beautiful sunset over the dunes as we sped back to Huacachina, Antonio taking a few risks, but nothing dangerous. We had an amazing view of the Lagoon as we crested the last hill...absolutely amazing.
For our one night in the lagoon...there wasn't much to do. We caught up with some of our Argentinian friends, but I called it a slightly early night since I didn't sleep well on the bus.
Next stop: Pisco.
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