Did you know you can go to a natural oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert? No I promise it’s not a mirage, Huacachina exists. And better yet, it’s the perfect place to get your adrenaline going with a rollercoaster-esque dune buggy rides and sandboarding. Our Huacachina Peru Travel Guide gives you all the information you need to get the most out of one day here!
Huacachina Peru Travel Guide
Huacachina is the perfect place to spend an afternoon playing in the sand dunes. Outside of this activities, the town itself is underwhelming. Since Huacachina has no residents (everyone lives in nearby town of Ica), the town is basically a large resort with overpriced and sub-par food. Our advice: arrive in the morning from Paracas (our unexpectedly favorite place in Peru), hit the dunes in the afternoon and then get out on the night bus to the shockingly gorgeous city of Arequipa.
Things To Do
This one’s pretty simple. You need to do 1 thing and then get on out of there:
- Sand Dune Tour
- Pisco Tour (optional)
Sand Dune Tour
If you haven’t figured it our by now, this is the one and only activity that you must do in Huacachina. The tour consists a dune buggy (aka roller coaster) ride through the endless dunes that surround the oasis, about 30 minutes of sandboarding, and then time to take those Insta-worthy pictures on the buggy at the sunset.
It does not matter which tour company you choose. There are about a million people selling tours and they are all the same. The tours start 2 hours before sunset, which means they go from about 4-6PM in October. We recommend negotiating with people selling tours around the lake. You should pay between 30-40 soles per person ($8-12USD) for the tour.
As always in Peru, it is much cheaper to book this tour in person than online. Since there are so many tour operators, you will not have any problems booking this tour up to a couple hours before you want to go!
Pisco is the sweet fermented grape liquor (aka brandy) drank in Peru and Chile. Ica is one of the main Pisco grape regions of Peru so taking a tour of some local vineyards is an option for a mid-day activities. You can do the Pisco tour and sand dune tour on the same day (they are often offered by the sand buggy company you chose). The pisco tour consists you being driven around to multiple different vineyards and usually provides lunch.
I personally wound not recommend getting a little tipsy before hopping into the buggy, but you do you.
Here’s a sample itinerary based on our opinion and experience in Huacachina, Peru!
- Morning: Arrive in Huacachina
- Morning: Sign up for Sand Dune Tour (store you backpack with the tour operator or a nearby hostel)
- Afternoon: Sand Dune Tour
- Late Night Bus to Arequipa
How to Get There
Coming South: Take a 1 hour bus from Paracas to Ica. From Ica, it is about a 15 minute taxi ride to Huacachina. You can also go straight from Lima to Ica (~4 hour bus) but we do not recommend skipping the beach town of Paracas – you’d miss the penguins and bike ride of your life!
Coming North: Take a 13 hour overnight bus from Arequipa to Ica and then take a taxi to Huacachina.
Where to Stay
We do not recommend staying overnight in Huacachina. If you must stay one night, Bananas Adventure hostel is the coolest one in town. On Hostelworld it looks more expensive than the other options but this is because the dune buggy tour is included in your reservation.
If you do stay the night and want to party, we have heard that Wild Rover Hostel (just down the street from Bananas Adventure) is the place to go.
Where to Eat
Zero recommendations for where you should eat. Keep those expectations low and try not to get ripped off too bad. Don’t worry – the good food is just a bus ride away. I’m talking the seafood in Paracas and anything you could ever want in Peru’s culinary capital of Arequipa.
Where to Go Next
Paracas – The seafood, penguins, incredible bike ride capital of Peru. You must go here. Click here for our Paracas Travel Guide on this awesome beach town.
Arequipa – The undoubtedly most beautiful city in Peru that you’ve never heard of. Explore the White City streets, eat incredible food and trek the Colca Canyon (the second deepest canyon in the world!). Here’s our Arequipa Travel Guide and Colca Canyon Travel Guide to help you plan your next adventure!
There you have it, our Huacachina Peru Travel Guide! From us to you, happy adventuring!
As of October 2019, there are no working ATMs in Huacachina. Not all restaurants accept card and you will need to taxi to and from Ica. For a day there 150 soles/person will prevent you from running out of money. Make sure you have enough cash on you before you arrive!
All prices are current as of October 2019.