One of the smallest towns in Peru, roughly an hour in from the rugged Pacific coastline, Huacachina is an oasis in the middle of a desert, surrounded by massive sand dunes and a mystical aura that brings in hundreds of visitors every single year, all intent on seeing the legendary mermaid who lives in the laguna and spend some quality time racing through the desert in dune buggies and sand-boarding. Built entirely around a small body of water, Huacachina is nothing more than a series of resorts and restaurants in a town so small that it only takes a few minutes to walk from one side to the other. Set in the Ica Region of southwestern Peru, just outside of Ica itself, it has earned the nickname “oasis of America” over the years, and its primary draw is definitely the sand dunes.
The Ica region is famous for its red wine, and Huacachina is one of the best places to sample some. There are literally dozens of wineries in the area, most of them exporting to the US and the EU, and all of the restaurants in Huacachina offer the various local vintages. There are a couple of decent museums in the city of Ica, but most people who come to Huacachina do so specifically to board the dunes, spin out on the buggies, and generally enjoy some quality time doing some extreme desert sports. You can also rent quads, enjoy the sunrise or sunset over the dunes, or just hang out around the laguna. Keeping in mind that Huacachina is a destination almost completely filled with tourists and entirely dependent on tourism, the prices here are more reflective of the US then they are of Peru, so be prepared to spend a pretty penny for any accommodations while you are here enjoying the dunes and the sun.
Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.
It was founded in 1563 by Spanish conquistador Gerónimo Luis de Cabrera.
The city is located on the Ica River about 300 km to the south of Lima along the desert coast of southern Peru. Fu…