What to know before visiting Huacachina, Peru’s Desert Oasis
The famous desert Oasis of Huacachina offers the adventure traveler some unique experiences. Most travelers come here to ride sandboards down some of the biggest dunes on the planet and also explore the steep dunes on a thrilling dune buggy ride in the guidance of a skilled professional driver. You may also choose to tack on a day of two to chill out at one of the oasis pools, or hike up to the tallest dunes to catch an epic sunrise or sunset. There are many other adventures to be had nearby to keep you busy for multiple days.
Why is Huacachina a must-do destination?
Huacachina Oasis is a unique place due to its natural beauty. Besides its gorgeous lagoon with all those tropical palms and great hot climate, in Huacachina you will find beautiful dunes, large and small, perfect for those looking for adventure. If you want to enjoy a real desert experience then you must watch the sun setting over this mesmerizing desert.
What are the best hotels? (low, mid and high end)
Budget: We do not suggest hostels, especially in Huacachina. They are too noisy due to the parties they host inside the hostels. But if you are looking for this type of atmosphere, we suggest Wild Rover Huacachina or Banana's Adventure Hostel.
Mid range: If we think about staying around Huacachina, HOSTERIA SUIZA HOTEL is the first to come to mind. A 3 star hotel located right at the shores of the lagoon. Another option is DM Hoteles Mossone Ica. This hotel is one of the oldest in the zone with a nice Hacienda style and a restaurant overlooking the lagoon.
High End: A nice higher end hotel is Las Dunas Hotel. While not located in Huacachina, it is around 5 km away, but a the best option for those looking for more services. Another good option would be the Hotel Viñas Queirolo.
What are the must-visit restaurants?
In general, most restaurants are good, but nothing like the fancy world-class ones you will find in Lima or Cusco. We recommend either the restaurant inside Las Dunas Hotel or the one in Hotel Viñas Queirolo if you are seeking out the best food in the Oasis.
What are the transportation options to visit from Lima?
The only way to reach the city of Ica from Lima is by land. There are many bus options, and the trip by bus usually takes 5 hours. Without a doubt, the best option is taking private transportation, as this option offers more flexibility in terms of sightseeing and also stops at places of interest on the way. The private trip takes 4 hours and is a much more comfortable and enjoyable ride.
Off the Beaten track tours, activities or destinations to see:
Along the road from Lima to Ica, if traveling by private car, visitors may visit the Paracas Peninsula, a fantastic natural reserve with amazing views of the desert and the Pacific Ocean. A real off the beaten track tour would be Moron Lagoon Oasis, located near Pisco. This remote and seldom visited oasis is similar to that of Huachahinca but it is superior in beauty as there are no real establishments so it holds its true natural beauty. Enjoy a day here swimming, sandboarding and kayaking from the town of Paracas via 4x4 car.
What are the most popular activities in the Oasis?
Without a doubt the most popular activity is sandboarding, but you also must experience the thrill of ripping around the sand on a dune buggy. For a unique experience, we suggest camping in Huacachina Desert, to enjoy not only the beauty of the sunset and dunes, but also the stars and the milky way.
For those with younger kids you can enjoy some time on paddle or row boats that can be rented on the lake. It is a great way to enjoy the oasis at a slower pace.
Must-try foods & drink:
All visitors must try Pisco, a grape brandy very popular among locals.
As to the food.. Raw Fish, known locally as cebiche or ceviche, is widely available at the local restaurants. Ica is popular for what we call criolla food, but in our experience, not all tourists like it. Any dish with fresh fish served as Cebiche or grilled is a great option, but be adventurous, there are many wonderful flavors to experience!
How many days is best to spend in Huacachina?
A 2 day - 1 night trip is good enough to sufficiently experience the main activities that the destination has to offer.
Looking to extend your time along the Coast?
We suggest adding on a day or two to explore the Nazca lines via flight. Also the Paracas coast and the Ballestas Islands – the “Galapagos of Peru” provides a great opportunity to see many different kinds of marine life. Watch thousands of seabirds including Humboldt penguins, boobies, pelicans, and sea lions in this wildlife sanctuary.
Tips for Visiting Huacachina:
- Bring cash as there is only one sometimes unreliable ATM in the very small town.
- Make sure to catch a sunset from the top of the dunes
- Visit one of the wineries nearby we suggest visiting Hacienda Bodega Tacama
- Go on a Pisco Tour “Peruvian brandy”