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.
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.