Never again will I be able to enjoy theme parks after speeding around the desert outside Huacachina in a dune buggy followed by bombing down the dunes on a sandboard, since these activities were way more fun than any rollercoaster or waterslide I’ve ever been on. God-DAMN this was fun.
When you travel, some experiences can be very interesting & educational, you may learn about the history or culture of a country very different to your own. Other travel experiences are very personally significant, you may face & overcome your fears, or an experience might have such a profound impact on you that it provides a fresh new perspective that will endure long after you return home. And then there are those travel experiences that are just pure unadulterated fun, that leave you walking around afterwards with a goofy smile on your face like a little kid on Christmas morning who just got the motherload of presents from Santa. This is one of those experiences. Holy FUCK this is a lot of fun.
The Oasis of Hucachina, taken from one of the dunes above town. As an aside, climbing these dunes is way harder than it looks, I was thinking it would just take a few minutes to get up here – actually took about half an hour, but the view was totally worth it. Plus it was great for blasting my quads & glutes – it’s a win/win.
Firstly, a bit of info about Huacachina – or Waka-Chang-Chang as the locals call it (not really). Huacachina is a tiny little town, like really really tiny (population just over 100), and is often referred to as the Oasis of Huacachina since it’s built around a little natural lake in the middle of the desert. I read that the lake is thought to have restorative powers, however it doesn’t exactly look appealing to go swimming in given it’s dull greeny-brown colour, and sure as hell no one was bathing in it when I was there. Still, the oasis sure looks cool, especially from the top of one of the surrounding dunes which tower up all around the town.
According to Peruvian legend, the oasis was created back in the day by a beautiful princess who was startled while taking a bath by a horny young hunter who was hiding in the nearby bushes perving at her & masturbating. Needless to say the princess was a bit grossed out & gapped it, not even stopping to pull the plug on her bath, and that’s why we still have the oasis there today, and the folds of her flowing dress became the sand dunes. Furthermore, in a weird twist, some say the princess still resides in the lagoon as a mermaid, and she holds a terrible grudge over having her bath disturbed all those years ago, and has vowed to mercilessly kill anyone who ventures into the water by taking them down for a death-roll, saltwater croc-style. This may be another reason why people stay out of the water. Peruvian legends are dark.
Anyway, Huacachina is a pleasant little spot to chill out for a couple of days, however the main reason most visit is to sandboard down the dunes & go on a trip into the desert in a dune buggy. There are a few places in town offering trips that combine a rollercoaster-esque ride through the desert along with stops at 3-4 large dunes which you then board down. The trips are pretty standardised from what I could tell, in that they tend to visit the same places, you board down the same dunes etc – I booked through my hostel which seemed the easiest option & it was a wicked experience.
The ride through the desert is not for the faint hearted – the drivers race up the dunes, pivot on the slope & then speed back down again. We got some pretty good air a few times too, overall a thrilling experience if you enjoy a bit of adrenaline. Just remember your sunglasses or you will have difficulty keeping your eyes open with all the sand flying around.
The drivers also know the good dunes to stop at to board down, they bring the boards with them, drop you at the top & then pick you up down at the bottom before heading off to the next dune. Unless you’re a pro sandboarder & want to try riding down standing up on the board, you’ll be going down the dunes head-first, lying on your stomach & clinging to the board for dear life. In theory you can dig your feet into the sand if you want to slow down, but this would mean you are a total pussy, so don’t do that – embrace the speed & learn to love the feeling of the board slamming against your chest, knocking the wind out of you while sand-covered snot streams from your nose & up the side of your cheek – it’s an attractive look. Seriously though, this is more fun than I can adequately put into words, so check out the pics, although even these don’t really do it justice since taking photos that consist of 90% sand is actually quite tricky.
I was gutted when I reached the bottom of the final slope, could have gone on bombing down them for hours, but at least the trip ended with a stunning view of the sun setting over the dunes (trips all leave a couple of hours befre sunset so you miss the heat of the day & catch the sunset at the end). Then all that’s left to do is head back to Huacachina for a sneaky pisco sour or 6 with your new sandboarding buddies – great times. If you’re in the area & have had your fill of Inca ruins for a while, and just want some mindless fun, stop by Huacachina, you will not regret it. Just stay out of the lagoon or murderous Peruvian Ariel will kill you.