Our second stop on the way from Lima down to the southern city of Arequipa was a desert oasis called Huacachina. The tiny town is really just an offshoot of the larger city nearby, Ica. Huacachina isn’t really a town at all, more of a tourist destination for people seeking adventures into the desert.
We spent two nights there and basically one full day. There wasn’t much to do during the mid-day heat except take in some sun and enjoy the pool at our little hotel. Not until the sun gets a bit low is it recommended to head into the actual desert.
Some people climb the dunes, but the best way to take in the desert is via a buggy tour. When Kristi told me about the buggy tour I figured a little dune buggy like I’d seen at various North Carolina beaches. The monsters used to tackle the dunes in Huacachina are hiiighly modified 3/4-ton American made pickup trucks. Our particular ride was a 1980 Dodge Ram.
One way to take in the desert might be a low-speed cruise up and down some dunes. Our guide didn’t want to waste any of the HP his truck had to offer so our tour was more… aggressive. The best way to describe the experience is like a rollercoaster without a track to confine the excitement.
Various stops were made along the way so that we could go sandboarding. I had imagined snowboarding on sand, that is, until I stood at the top of the first dune. The vast majority take the slide down the dune on the stomach. In order to avoid a trip-ending tumble, majority ruled. It seemed dangerous either way but even the five-year old on our trip boarded down on his dad’s back.
The tour ended with the sun setting over the horizon and one last high-speed tear through the desert back to the oasis. Tons of fun and also tons of sand in our pockets, hair, and teeth to remember the trip by!