One of our favorite experiences so far has been sandboarding in Huacachina. Located only four hours south of Lima, Huacachina is an oasis town surrounded on all sides by massive sand dunes. The town is small and consists mostly of a few hostels, bars, tour operators, and a tree lined esplanade around the lagoon.
The thing to do in Huacachina is to go dune buggy riding and sandboarding, so we bought a two hour tour for 45 soles, which is about $14 USD. Given that the same tour in the U.S. would likely cost $100 or more, this is some of the best money we’ve spent in a long time. We opted for the sunset tour so we met at our tour operator’s office at 3:30 pm, paid our money, and then stood around not knowing what to do next as is typical for us in Peru. Finally after about half an hour, we were hurried onto our dune buggy and off we went over the dunes. I liken the dune buggy experience to riding one of those old wooden roller coasters – really fast, bumpy, and fun as hell.
We rode about 15 minutes through the dunes to get to our first sandboarding dune. I won’t lie, when I carried my board up there and peeked over the edge I wanted to chicken out. This first one was so dang high; however, our driver called this one our ‘practice’ dune. When I saw the 8 year old in our group walk right up to the edge and sail down it, I knew that I couldn’t be shamed by this kid so I went for it.
After not killing ourselves on the first dune, we did another 5 dunes, each one getting a bit higher until you get to the last one – the double dune. You sail down one, ride on flat ground for a while and hope that you have enough speed going to take you over the next dune. Just like snowboarding, the more you wax your board, the faster you go. Well, let’s just say that me, Jaime, and Nicole may have taken the waxing to the extreme. See, we didn’t want to be losers and get stuck on the flat stretch only to have to walk it down the second dune or even worse do the awkward caterpillar crawl on your stomach so you can push off the second dune. Because of all that wax, each of us got up so much speed going down the first dune that we went airborne on the second dune. All was fine, just going super fast until we encountered these three big bumps at the bottom of the second dune. Nicole’s cell phone flew out of her pants pocket and her glasses flew off her head (both were retrieved unscathed thankfully). Jaime fell off his board, hit his head on the sand and scraped up his arm. The folks watching went “Oh shit” but he was totally fine. Nicole and I didn’t fall off the board but each had a couple of big bruises from those bumps. We had a good laugh the next day at our respective ‘injuries’.
Not only was the sandboarding experience exhilarating but we were also lucky enough to be in the dunes at sunset. The view from up there was truly magical.
Our visit to Huacachina is definitely one the highlights of our trip thus far. If you’re planning a trip to Peru then I highly recommend making your way down there to experience the dunes. A first class bus ride from Lima to Ica, where we stayed and only 5 miles from Huacachina, only costs around $42 roundtrip. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s only around 4 hours from Lima so it makes for an easy 1-2 day excursion.