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Published: March 30th 2014
18 hours of twisting and turning across the Andes and once again it was another uncomfortable journey with Gem spending most of the time in the grimey bus toilet pondering over the decision whether to puke or poo first. With the light at the end of the tunnel, we eventually arrived at an Oasis...and it wasn't a mirage. Located only 15 minutes outside the city of Ica, hidden in amongst the enormous dunes is a picturesque, palm tree lined oasis surrounded by a row of hostels, hotels, restaurants and shops called Huacachina.
After arriving at our hostel, we sat around the hostel pool, grabbed a bite to eat then set off to explore the area around the oasis. With the sun soon setting beyond the dunes, it was a refreshing change from the mountains views we had become accustomed to, but was an equally stunning setting.
After an early night and a nice long lay in (by our standards), we were off to attempt to climb one of the huge surrounding dunes. With the sand burning hot, we were advised to wear trainers. After only 10 minutes of slow, sweaty walking, our trainers had filled with sand and our
feet were scolding. We quickly ran as high up the dune as we could manage, snapped a few photos of the incredible dunes and town and decided we would take the easier option of a late afternoon buggy ride to admire the tops of the dunes and beyond.
With Gem still feeling dodgy, we used it as an excuse to lounge around the pool and soak in the sun before our buggy ride. After a 4 day trek in the mountains it was just the respite we needed. 4.30pm and we could hear the roaring Cadillac engine of our sand buggy rolling up outside the hostel. Strapped into the front 2 seats, it was going to be a fun 3 hours racing up and down the dunes. The first 30 minutes we were flying over the top of massive dunes, more like a roller coaster than a buggy; it definitely got our hearts pumping and laughing ear to ear. After approaching another dune, instead of flying off the edge, we stopped, were told to get out and grab a sand board from the back of the buggy. Without realising, we had signed up to sand boarding too which was
a pleasant surprise. We grabbed a board, waxed it up and joined everyone else at the edge of the dune. With some people attempting to board and others throwing themselves down lying face first on the board, it definitely looked more fun to body board! After a couple of medium sized dunes and a few (unsuccessful) attempts at sand boarding, we reached the daddy sized dunes. This was where the fun really started. With around a 200 metre stretch to the bottom, we lined up with a few others for a race to the bottom. Laying down with boards at the ready...one, two, three, go! Off we went rocketing head first down this enormous dune. In typical competitive fashion, Rich crossed the line first looking smug with his victory. Covered top to toe in sand, it was a great way to end the day. Back aboard the buggy, we drove back to the little town with the sun setting behind the dunes. Satisfied with the £8 trip we were back at the hostel for a bite to eat before heading to bed.
With an early bus to Lima the following day, it was a quick but fun filled stop
over in the desert. From the calm of an idyllic Oasis to a bustling capital city...next stop Lima.
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