Hurtling down a sand dune is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think desert landscape. Just a few hours south of Lima and on the way to Nazca and Arequipa are the vast sand dunes of Ica. These massive, seemingly endless dunes look imported from the Sahara and surround the quaint desert oasis town of Huacachina, Peru’s sandboarding mecca.
Sandboarding in Huacachina
A Huacachina introduction
Once the playground of Peru’s elite, Huacachina now has the air of a former beauty queen. The town is centered around a small lagoon fed by a natural spring and framed by leafy green palms. The restaurants and hotels that line the small lagoon are composed of old Spanish colonial revival architecture worthy of housing the elite of the 1920s rather than the 20-somethings that now sip Peruvian beer at outdoor tables.
Enjoy some sun and fun at Peru’s only oasis town.
Photo by Latin America for Less
Limenos come to Huacachina on the weekends to enjoy the sunshine and get away from the chaos of city life while travelers often stay overnight on their way to visit Paracas, Nazca or Arequipa.
Sandboarding: Do you dare?
If sandboarding sounds terrifying, don’t worry – it’s actually really fun! Kids, tweens, teens, and moms and dads of all ages have tested their skills on the slopes of Huacachina and few regret having given it a shot.
Some people decide to try sandboarding on their own. This is entirely feasible, but walking up the sand dunes is a lot more arduous than it sounds. Your feet sink into the sand with every uphill step as each dune you set out to summit becomes your own Mount Everest.
To maximize the fun-factor of a sandboarding experience, a four-wheel drive dune buggy is a must! Strap yourself into the ride of your life and cruise full-throttle through the dunes. Climb to the top of a dune and hold on tight for the downward plunge before making another hairpin turn up the next desert hill.
Take a break from your desert roller coaster ride and conquer the dunes yourself.
Sandboarding techniques vary. Similar to a snowboarder, you can board down the dunes on your feet. Control your balance by taking a wide stance and slow your board down by dragging your toes in the sand. Another option is the embrace the “tummy technique” and coast head first laying flat on your board. You’ll have a blast no matter what technique you choose!
Most dune buggy and sand boarding tours are two hours long. Morning and evening tours can be arranged, but the latter allows you enjoy the sun set over the dunes.
What to bring along on the adventure
Plan a sandboarding thrill
To get to Huacachina from Lima, take a bus to the town of Ica and then hire a taxi to take you the short 10 minute ride to the oasis town of Huacachina.
For more information about visiting Huacachina and other destinations in Peru, contact an expert Latin America for Less travel advisor who can help customize your adventure.
Britt is a California native who left her home to explore South America in 2013 and now lives in Peru. She’s just a little obsessed about planning getaways with her family, scuba diving, and trekking.