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The Huacahina sand dunes and the oasis they surround are becoming more and more insta-famous. You may be disappointed to find that the Peru’s desert oasis only looks quite so remote if you angle your photos to not include the buildings to the side where everyone actually lives, and that it’s only a 4 minute drive away from the edge of the city of Ica, but it’s a natural beauty nonetheless.
Huacachina was a key highlight of our Peru trip, and not as difficult to get there as a search on the map might suggest. It made a solid appearance in our recommended 2 weeks Peru itinerary. Be prepared for the roaring heat – you are out in the desert, after all!
How to pronounce Huacachina: wacka-CHEE-na
After this guide to what to do in the sand dunes of Huacachina, don’t miss:
- 6 ways to get to Machu Picchu: New entry rules for 2020-21
- Your ideal 2-week Peru itinerary
- Lima: Peru’s bustling gastronomical hub
How to get to Huacachina
To get to Huacachina from Cusco, Lima or Arequipa, you will first have to get a bus to Ica. Busbud is a great platform to find the best departures and purchase tickets in Peru.
Ica is an unremarkable, dirty city and therefore not worth staying in, but being only 15 minutes in a taxi (7 soles) from the bus terminal straight to Peru’s desert oasis in Huacachina, it’s hard to avoid entirely unless you take an organised service such as PeruHop.
We thought about also staying in nearby Pisco to learn more about the drink pisco, but thought we’d prefer the adventure of being right in the sand dunes. You can still take pisco tours from Huacachina if that’s of interest.
Buggying around the Huacachina sand dunes
It’s pretty obvious why the Huacachina area is so popular… dune buggggies! While small buggies and ATVs are available for a higher price, most people stick to the group buggies, which carry up to 16 people.
The majority of Huacachina’s dune-buggy tours include sand-boarding too; but be aware that most of the Huacachina sand dunes are waaaay too large to stand up on unless you’re already an experienced sand/snow-boarder, so people tend to go down on their bellies.
Make sure you don’t eat too closely before going on the buggy tour or you risk seeing your food again.
It’s a really exhilarating experience, and we loved every minute of the Huacachina sand dunes buggy tour for just 25 soles each. You can pick these tours up from street behind the waterfront; you’ll be able to negotiate if you’re close to the departure time or if there’s a larger group of you.
By far the best time to go is during the sunset tour, which leaves Huacachina at around 4pm.
To experience this, you can either book on a buggy tour online ahead of your visit to Huacachina to guarantee your place, or try to flag down one of the many tour guides on the streets around the oasis. You may be able to negotiate on pricing if you find a buggy that is imminently about to depart with seats spare.
But you don’t have to book a buggy tour to see the sand dunes in Huacachina. If you’re fit enough, you’re perfectly free to explore the dunes on foot (though keep the town in sight so you don’t get lost!).
The sand dunes are steep and difficult to walk up, but if you can make it to the North-West ridge by sunset you’ll be rewarded with some out-of-this-world views.
Done with the sand dunes? To chill out during the day, make sure to head down to the waterfront of Peru’s desert oasis for some peaceful downtime. You can even rent peddlos to take for a spin around the lake!
Where to eat in Huacachina
La Casa de Bamboo is a baaaaabe. It’s actually a hostel one road back from the waterfront, but does an excellent breakfast menu with gluten-free and vegan options on the menu. Proper coffees, too!
We ate dinner at HUACAFUCKINGCHINA for the sole reason that we found both the name and the owner hilarious. The food was average but we had views of the water and our waiter cracked us up until our stomachs hurt. Plus, we got a few free shots for being good sports!
Where to stay in Huacachina
Let’s get straight to the point; if you’re searching hostels in Huacachina and the place you’re considering hasn’t got a pool, bin it. Ain’t nobody got time for that. This place is DESERT and it is HOT. You are going to crave a swimming pool harder than Kim Kardashian craves attention.
We stayed at Desert Nights, which admittedly doesn’t have its own pool, but it does have free usage of its sister hotel’s pool and bar – a great place to chill with a beer and eat excellent chicken wings. The facilities are pretty good too; we enjoyed our stay, if only one night.
Recommended stay to enjoy the Huacachina sand dunes: 1-2 days
Like this guide on the Huacachina sand dunes? Take a look at some of these other posts next:
- The perfect 2-week Peru itinerary
- Things to know before you go to Peru
- Paracas: the red desert of Peru
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Last Updated on 13 February 2023 by Cuppa to Copa Travels