Huacachina Travel Blog

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We got in to the Peruvian city of Ica at dark so that we could get to the nearby oasis of Huacachina. After we got our bags off the bus everyone else had hurried off except for us and an English girl Emma who was also heading to Huacachina. We introduced ourselves to her and shared a couple of taxis to the hotel area.

We arrived in Huacachina faster than we thought we would, and since it was night time we couldn't really see much of the surrounding area. The taxi dropped us off at an expensive looking hotel and at first we thought we were being scammed for some place in Ica instead of Huacachina. Eventually I was convinced we were really in Huacachina but we headed up the road a bit and found rooms at a much cheaper and cooler looking place. We had dinner at the cruisy restaurant there and were done for the night.

The next day we got up and realised that yes we definitely were in Huacachina. We all got a bit of a shock as all around us were enormous sand dunes probably a couple hundred metres high. The main reason we were there was for the sandboarding so it was good to see there were some really big dunes around.

As it were the first thing we did that day was sandboarding! The driver took us all out in a big dune buggy and we sped out of Huacachina to the nearby dunes. A good thing about it is that the dunes are so huge for so long that you can have a whole area to yourselves. On the way out we drove over some huge dunes and sharp corners at fast speeds, so much that it was almost like being on a rollercoaster. We did that for about 15 minutes before we got to the first dune to board down, which was reasonably short and not too steep, I think just to get us used to it before doing some bigger ones. The boards are like snowboards with fabric straps to either hold on to if you go face first or strap your feet in if you do it standing.

First we got given a bit of wax each to grease our boards up and then we were off. I watched a couple of others try out the standing option and it didn't seem so great so I went face first and it was good but I knew it was going to get a lot better later on. We did a couple more smallish ones before we were driven up to a big one. Going down that one was really fun, you get up a fair speed and your face is very close to the ground so it feels even faster. After that big one we went to the last one which was, in technical speak, a really big one. Sandy went first and screamed all the way down as we watched from the top in awe at how fast she went and how small she then looked at the bottom. Emma went next and Sandy couldn't tell until the last second which way Emma was going to head along at the bottom and she only just moved out of the way as Emma went past... very close call. Going down was so much fun, got up a crazy speed, but at the same time it didn't really feel dangerous as the sand is smooth so you can't really hit anything. On the way back we got treated to even more crazy dune buggy driving.

One thing we discovered from going on sand dunes is that digital cameras do not enjoy the sensation of fine granules getting inside them. About half way through the sandboarding Ryan's camera died and mine was making a slight crunching sound when the camera turned on or off as the lens came in or out. Thankfully mine was ok in the end but Ryan had to have his camera taken in to a local camera repair shop - if you can call it that - where it got completely disassembled and put back together, but even though it worked for a bit it soon died again. Just a warning to fellow travellers!

After showering to get as much of the sand off of us as possible we did a tour to two local bodegas (wineries). Our driver took us to one out of Ica that had a functional traditional grape processing system that they use for festivals, from where they stomp the grapes to a huge cement distillation contraption to make the famous Pisco liquor. After being shown around we got to try some of the different wines and spirits they sell.

Our other stop on the bodega tour was very surreal and unexpected. The guy driving us around took us into a building and out the back into a cellar kind of area, and then suddenly he started giving us a tour in Spanish when all along we thought he was just our driver. The cellar floor was mostly covered in large traditional wine vats made out of pottery that rest against each other and the wall instead of the floor, and the walls were covered with archaelogical pieces from Incan and pre-Incan times. Ryan was doing a top job as our translator while TD (taxi driver) explained the pieces. Along the way through the cellar he used specially carved bamboo to get wine/pisco out of the vats and give us shots to try. In the last vat he accidentally dropped the bamboo into the vat and was really nonchalant about it as he grabbed another one and kept dishing it out. One of the last things he showed us was a decent sized ship model made of human bones which was very cool.
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photo by: yadilitta