Huacachina Oasis

The tiny Peruvian town of Huacachina is the ultimate desert oasis. The picturesque lagoon is ringed with perfect palms and backed by soaring, razor-edged dunes. Beyond playing desert fantasy, Huacachina is also the starting point for one of Peru’s most famous adventures: a heart-racing dune buggy and sandboarding odyssey that will literally stop your heart. Normally, we prefer to enjoy our dunes on foot, but buggy rides are just THE THING to do here.

So during our two-day stay, we spent one afternoon exploring the vast dune sea strapped in the back of a speeding dune buggy. The ride totally got our adrenaline pumping, but also scared the hell out of us. Some of the dunes we tackled were so steep, it seemed inconceivable that we could get up or down without flipping. At moments, we plunged down virtually vertical drops. At other times, we shot up steep inclines in arcs which defied logic and gravity. I’m still not sure how, but somehow we survived. Fortunately, there were plenty of stops and quiet time to enjoy the views and practice our sandboarding skills. Check out our first attempts getting down those dunes – flat on our stomachs.


Travel Tips

The town of Huacachina is wonderfully tranquil during the day. At night, however, the oasis becomes a raging disco. For some strange reason, one or two hostels hold the whole town hostage with their thumping music, especially on the weekends. The steady pounding echoes off the sand dunes and goes on all night. If we had to do it over again, we would stay at the nearby town of Ica. From there, Huacachina is only a few kilometers and a cheap taxi ride away.

As for the dune buggy rides, they are a real adrenaline kick, BUT they also feel remarkably unregulated and often poorly organized. All it takes is two buggies choosing the same dune at the same time and fun turns to tragedy. Understand what you are doing.

9 responses to “Huacachina Oasis”

  1. avatar SandraM says:

    OMG, this looks so much fun. I went through Peru a couple of years ago, but skipped the oasis because I didn’t have enough time. Bummer! Well, next time… 🙂

    • avatar Tony says:

      @Sandra, We had a blast, but we are still hesitant to recommend the tours for environmental and safety reasons. But they definitely were an adrenaline kick!

  2. avatar Dad says:

    This video is so much fun! I really loved the music too! Very dramatic! You two needed a soundtrak for your adventureous life and this fits well. Tony those downhill board rides reminded me of Temecula…..although that didn’t turn out too well?

    • avatar Tony says:

      @Dad, Thanks. Actually, it’s hard to see from the wide angle shots just how life threatening and steep those dunes were. I was pretty terrified during the whole thing… mostly because I wasn’t the one driving. 🙂

  3. avatar B.R. says:

    I know many people like dune buggies, but I think it’s bad for the environment. Sorry to say that but maybe you should not promote this behavior.

    • avatar Tony says:

      @ B.R., Actually, as hypocritical as this might sound, we totally agree with you. We generally like our dunes pristine and don’t really like what dune buggies and ATV etc. do to dune environments and the wildlife. But after several days of judging Huacachina, we realized that that is a majorly lost battle here. Dune tours are a major industry and they aren’t going anywhere. This is one time we bit the bullet and just went along for a ride.

  4. avatar Jennifer says:

    Oh no! This is so beautiful. I visited Peru several years ago and I never even heard of Huacachina. I wish I had known.

    • avatar Tony says:

      It really is quite beautiful. I guess that provides an excuse to plan another trip to Peru. There’s so much to do here that you could visit a dozen times.

  5. avatar Doug says:

    Just watched this video too. I used to go to the dunes with my dad. That brings back good memories.

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