24 Hours In South America’s Oasis: Huacachina, Peru

It was a cold and surprisingly damp, morning. You know how you the air gets right after a big thunderstorm? It felt similar to that…the only thing was, we were in a Peruvian Desert.

In an attempt to beat the sun, we had woken up around 5AM. You see, we were in a magical place and had to get the light just right in order to capture its beauty.

We were in Huacachina, Peru’s famous oasis town.

Peruvian legend says the oasis formed when a beautiful princess was caught bathing in the waters by a local hunter. In her own shame, she dove deep into the water where she wept out of humiliation. Her tears make the oasis what is it today, but her humiliation has continued to curse the land, turning everything to sand. They say she still lives in the bottom of the oasis if any are brave enough to dive in.

Today, it serves as a tiny resort town for locals and tourists to come frolic along the massive sand dunes.

Huacachina Peru Oasis

Our Morning In The Sand Dunes

To continue our story, the fog had rolled over the oasis during the night and it remained as dawn came. As we hiked to the top of closest dune we got the chills, not something you would imagine occurring in the desert. The sand on top was cold from the night air, but as your foot sank, the sand became much warmer. The wind off the backside of the dune was chilling, but it was also blowing the fog away, making its howl bittersweet.⠀

When we reached the top of the dune, which are huge, the fog wasn’t completely gone. To avoid the wind, we did our best to dig ourselves into the sand. For roughly two hours, and way after sunrise, we watched waves of fog drift in and out of the oasis, over the sand dunes, and into oblivion. It was a chilling and calming experience.⠀

Of course, the fog lifted and we snapped some great pictures, but I’m glad the fog was there. It made the experience more than just a “copy and paste” picture from Instagram, which has turned this little town into an internet legend.

Funny enough, it only took us about 2 minutes to run down the same sand dune that took us an hour to climb up!

Huacachina Sand Dunes
Huacachina Sand Dunes
Huacachina Sand Dunes
Huacachina Sand Dunes

Sand Boarding & Dune Buggying The Day Away

As the sun warmed up this little oasis town, we spent the day doing what everyone who visits Huacachina should do: sand boarding and dune buggying.

I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters, but this was awesome!

Our driver picked us up in front of our hotel where we were joined by others on the tour. The town is tiny, so walking from one side to other takes less than 10 minutes. However, the town is packed with tour buses and dune buggies, so driving from one side to other takes 20 minutes. Luckily, we were in the dunes pretty quickly where all the fun began!

Huacachina Dune Buggy

All the dune buggy drivers are complete pros. They do this five or six times every day, so they have the patterns and “trails” in the dunes all picked out for maximum excitement.

Once you are in the dunes, you’ll whip around, up, and down some small, large, and very steep sand dunes. There are a few photo spots where the drivers all meet up and you can jump out and snap some pictures of the vast emptiness that makes up the desert. Off in a distance you can see large desert mountains and the city of Ica.

Huacachina Sand Dunes

After that, it’s off to the sand boarding spots! Unless you bring your own gear, you’ll be handed pretty basic sand boards, think a piece of wood with wax on the bottom, so don’t expect to carve up the side of these mountains.

It is still a blast though! Lying on your stomach and going down these hills will give you quite the thrill. You start on small hills and then gradually get larger until you get to the biggest one, which had to be at least 30 stories tall! By this time, you’re pretty comfortable on the board and can truly enjoy the experience.

TIP: If you get scared riding down, just dig your feet into the sand to slow yourself down. I definitely had to do this a couple times!

When The Sun Goes Down

Being a resort town, especially known for its hostels, Huacachina likes to party.

Nearly every night you’ll find some bar cranking out music until the wee hours of the night. For some, this is heaven, for others this is horrible. If you want to get a full nights rest, I suggest finding a hotel a good ways away from the bars that surround the middle of the oasis. If you want to party, most bars don’t really pick up until around 11PM or so but they go until about 4AM, so bring your dancing shoes!

The restaurants around the oasis make some excellent food. From pizza and pasta to french toast and pancakes, they have a bit of everything. Most of them also tout a hefty happy hour menu too, so if you want to sip on a Pina Colada, you won’t be the only one! This is one of the rare small Peruvian towns that take credit cards, so don’t spend your Sols here, just swipe the plastic.

TIP: It does get cold at night, so be sure to wear a jacket and pants. We were running around in our shorts and t-shirts and by 8PM we were freezing

Nighttime in Huacachina Peru
(Photo from Kevin’s Travel Blog)

During our time in Peru, Huacachina was the one place that truly took our breath away (other than struggling to breath during the Inca Trail). The pictures you see online truly don’t capture the aura and beauty of this hidden gem.

While it isn’t close to either Lima or Cusco, it is worth the effort to go see when in Peru. You will have a blast on the dune buggies and sand boarding experience during the day, eat well in the evening, and enjoy the night life surrounding this tourist town no matter when you go.

However, if you go, you must, and you have to promise me that you will hike to the top of the dune closest to the town and enjoy the sunrise. It was as calming and relaxing as any island or serene beach I’ve ever seen.

TO SEE SOME OF THE DUNE BUGGY AND SAND BOARDING FUN IN HUACACHINA, CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO:  

2018-02-15T20:23:09+00:00

27 Comments

  1. Layton February 20, 2018 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    This was on the Bachelor!!!

    • Angie February 20, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      Just another location we’ve beat them too haha

  2. Gisele Leon February 13, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Angie it was a beautiful post! As a peruvian I think you made an excellent story about Huacachina! I have followed you for quite a time and your photos are so inspiring! 🙂 cheers!

  3. Priscilla February 13, 2018 at 8:48 am - Reply

    This makes me want to go to Peru so badly! I can’t believe you saw the fog lift on the dune. That photo is heavenly! I’ve never been dune buggying before but I remember when I used to go sand duning and all the sand would go in my face hahahah I’m so bad at it!

  4. Jayde February 13, 2018 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Angie loved this post!! I’d love to go to Peru one day and this looks like a place I need to add to my bucket list! And I did not know sand boarding was even a thing, but now i know about it I need to try it!! Gorgeous photos as always babe!!
    Jayde x

  5. Kritika February 13, 2018 at 6:49 am - Reply

    This is a very different Peru experience than what I’ve read otherwise! I’d no idea about adventure sports options there! I didn’t even know what sand boarding was before this blog, but it sounds fun and I definitely would try it. Thanks for the recommendation Angie!

  6. Lauren February 13, 2018 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Great post! So glad you highlighted your time as it’s for sure somewhere I’d love to explore when I go to Peru! It’s right up my alley with adventure and I’d be up for sunrise absolutly!

    Thanks Angie!

  7. Christina Hrynyk- christinaaa_h February 13, 2018 at 4:45 am - Reply

    Absolutely loved my time in Huacachina. Dune buggying was one of my favorite activities in my 2.5 months in South America. Your photos are incredible!

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 5:08 am - Reply

      So glad you’ve been before!!! Wow 2.5 months, amazing!!! Would love to have traveled more in South America.

  8. Sunetra February 13, 2018 at 4:43 am - Reply

    OMG.. this is just perfect recipe for fun & adventure!! Love to read your blogs and know every detail! I’m definitely visiting this oasis on my trip to Peru.. wouldn’t miss it for the world! Thanks a lot Angie 💗

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 5:06 am - Reply

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that! You’re going to have such a blast!!! 🙂

  9. Pansy @postcards.from.pansy February 13, 2018 at 1:34 am - Reply

    I have actually never heard of this town but it looks and sounds so fascinating!! I love sand dunes pics and yours are so beautiful 💕Just curious – how far away is it from the nearest airport or big city? Did you rent a car to get there?

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 1:51 am - Reply

      That’s a really great question! I believe the closest international airport is in Lima, which is about 4.5 hours away. You could take a car but we did a bus tour with Peru Hop. We left with them in Lima and drove all the way to Cusco. Huacachina was just a stop along the way. 🙂

  10. Leah | @thewanderleaf February 12, 2018 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    I’ve wanted to go here for so long! It looks absolutely stunning

  11. Kellie February 12, 2018 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    I’m off to Peru in July, and love seeing all your adventures! Hopefully we can try to squeeze this into our itinerary! Thanks for the fabulous photos and trip inspo 😁

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 2:02 am - Reply

      That’s going to be such a fun trip for you!! 🙂 I hope you’ll be able to stop by Huacachina as well! It is a little our of the way, but honestly it was my favorite part about going to Peru! Even better than Machu Picchu!

  12. perfectlyclaudia February 12, 2018 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    I so love local legends and tales, and that little Peruvian legend about the oasis is so pretty – sad but pretty. What a story! It makes the location so much more meaningful and exciting.

    The dunes look so amazing too!!

    Claudia xo

  13. Michelle February 12, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Always wanted to go to Peru, but for other reasons like history or to try Ayahuasca! But this! This seems so secretly but pretty gorgeous. I can almost feel the heat coming trough your pictures. Also reminds me a bit of the Moroccan desert and the sand dunes you’ll find there. Thanks for this lovely blog post; I’ll put this city on my bucket list right now.
    Have a great time on your next stop!
    Xo Michelle

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 2:03 am - Reply

      Yay! I’m so glad you’re putting it on your bucket list! It’s really quite incredible! And I soooo wish my husband and I tried Ayahuasca! Next time!

  14. @thetravelbook.co February 12, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Wow! I didnt know this place existed! Usually when hearing about Peru its all about the Machu Pichu… but I am fascinated with your photos and the story behind it. I am pinning this into my Bucket list for sure Angie! Have a great week!!

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

      Right?? I didn’t even know about it either till my husband showed me pictures of it! haha Definitely so glad you’re adding it to your bucket list!

  15. Kait Smith February 12, 2018 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Peru had never even been on my travel radar until I read this. now it’s at the top of the list.

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

      This makes me so excited! I hope you’re able to go soon!:)

  16. Hanna February 12, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Such a unique place! And I loved your video I’ve seen that before!! And your dresses are gorgeous! I’ve gone serious shopping for my next trip aha after seeing all your outfits!

    • Angie February 13, 2018 at 2:05 am - Reply

      Thanks babe!!! I feel like I’m shopping ALL the time but it’s at Goodwills and consignment stores! Love bargains!

  17. valerieanne.diot February 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Really in love with this place and with the princess story. I can feel how peaceful it seems to be just looking at your pictures. Definitely on the bucket list. Thanks so much for these so beautiful pictures ❤️

    • Angie February 12, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks girl! I’m so glad you enjoyed the pictures and stories, and have decided to put it on your bucketlist! 🙂

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