Imagine finding a heavenly oasis in the middle of a massive sand dune reminiscent of the Sahara Desert. Meet Huacachina (wa-ka-cheena), located about five kilometres from the city of Ica in the Ica District of Ica Province, Peru and five hours away from the city of Lima.
The oasis is made up of a small lush island circled by palm trees and a small lagoon. There are several legends about the origin of the lagoon. Legend holds that the lagoon was formed when a hunter saw a beautiful Incan princess walking around the desert. While she was admiring herself in her mirror, she caught the hunter’s gaze. Shocked and startled by his presence, the princess fled and dropped the mirror. The mirror then exploded into shards and the glass turned into a tiny pool in the desert, consuming the princess and turned her into a mermaid.
Another legend says that the oasis was named after a princess who went into deep sadness after her husband died at war. Her endless tears were those that formed the lagoon and she soon turned into a mermaid. In fact, it was noted that Huacachina means young crying woman. They say that there is a statue of a princess at the entrance of Huacachina and at night, people can still hear her weeping.
Huacachina may be small, as it is home to about 115 people, but it draws tourists from all over the world. However, tourists online shared that one shouldn’t expect five-star hotels and services as much of the lodging there is quite basic. Also, it was noted that there are no ATMs in Huacachina so if you ever plan to go there, make sure you have enough cash in hand.
Peru offers a variety of landscapes (just look at Machu Picchu and the Rainbow Mountain) but there’s more to that as well. In Huacachina, there are several activities you can get involved with.
Huacachina is home to the largest sand dunes in South America so it only makes perfect sense to go sandboarding. You can opt to join a sandboarding tour or go on your own. You can hike up or take a buggy ride to the top of the sand dunes and make yourself down the sandy dunes on a sled. Check out this video:
RIDE THE DUNE BUGGIES
The dune buggy experience is usually teamed up with sandboarding stops. Usually, the 4-wheel drive dune buggy is driven by a professional driver to ensure you have an amazing thrill ride of a lifetime.
HEAD TO BALLESTAS ISLANDS
If you fancy sea lions and penguins, you can take a two-hour boat ride to the Ballestas Islands so you can get up close to the wildlife there. Besides sea lions and penguins, you can also spot a range of sea birds, pelicans and if you’re lucky dolphins and whales too. Check out this video.
(Cover photo: travelbuddiesperu.com)