huacachina oasis

Although Peru is best known for its magnificent Andes and Amazon, it also has imposing deserts and beaches. And one of the best places to appreciate and enjoy Peru’s desert is the Huacachina Oasis. This small town has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country and its visit is one of the best things to do in Peru. Its lush lagoon is surrounded by exotic palm trees, mansions, hotels, and exquisite restaurants. Therefore, together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared an article about this wonderful place.

All about visiting Huacachina Oasis in the best form


sunset huacachina oasis

Huacachina is the unique natural oasis in all of South America that is surrounded by charming mansions, restaurants, palms, and slender dunes. It is located in the middle of a desert in southern Lima and 5 kilometers to the west of Ica city.

1. The Oasis

It is a small lagoon fed by a natural spring, making it the only natural oasis in Latin America, with temperatures around 25 – 30 degrees during the year.

2. The town

It was built around this natural oasis in the middle of the desert as a refuge for the Peruvian upper classes. Still, today it has become a tourist destination available to all, with a population that does not exceed 150 residents. Crossing the town on foot takes no more than 10 minutes. Going by car will take 20 minutes, due to the large number of Vans and tourist transports stationed in the place.

The town is formed by ancient mansions, charming restaurants, and cozy lodges, subsisting on the tourist industry for the most part. Nowadays, the oasis has become one of the best destinations to enjoy summer in Peru. Without mentioning that it is surrounded by huge dunes that are the main stage for different tourist activities.

3. What’s means Huacachina?

Its name has two possible derivations of Quechua words. Huaccac Cachi (The one who cries salt). The other meaning can be Huaccacchine (I make you cry). Either way, these two possible meanings derive from the fantastic legend that surrounds this oasis. You will learn about it in the section “History”.


huacachina oasis location

The oasis is located on the Peruvian southern coast, in the Ica department. Exactly, 307 kilometers from south of Lima, taking the Panamerican highway heading south and the car trip lasts 04:30 hrs.

If you begin the trip from Ica, the car trip will last only 5 minutes directly to the oasis.


history huacachina oasis

In the ’60s and ’70s, it was fervently believed that its waters had healing powers, therefore Huacachina became a tourist center for Peruvian upper-class people. So, for a long time, the oasis was the resting place of the country’s elite with mansions and restaurants of high quality. But now, in the middle of the XXI century, with more amplified purchasing power in Peruvian society, the oasis is home to any Peruvian and foreign visitors wanting to enjoy the sand, beauty, and adventure of the Peru desert.

A. Two legends of Huacachina

oasis peruvian

At the main entrance to the Oasis, there is a statue of a mermaid and a wishing well, which reminds us of the story that in ancient times, there was a young Inca princess who was extremely beautiful. One day, while brushing her hair, and wandering in the desert, she was able to discern a hunter, through the reflection of her mirror. Scared, she began to run away from him, falling to the ground all her dresses to create the dunes we see today surrounding the oasis. In the same way, she dropped his mirror, which shattered instantly, and from the pieces, an oasis was formed where she plunged, to hide from man’s sight.

She waited for a long time, and once in a while surfaced to see if the hunter was gone. On a certain day, she was surprised when she realized that she no longer had feet, but a huge fin, she had become a mermaid. Since then, legend has it that the mermaid comes out to the bank on full moon nights to make singles fall in love and take them to her lagoon depth.

This legend is a point that makes Huacachina Oasis one of the most famous places in Peru. Others affirm that an Inca princess mourned the death of a warrior with whom she was in love. When she learned of his death, she ran away into the desert where she began to cry. As she cried, her tears fell on the sand and quickly became a small pool (oasis). When she noticed that a fisherman was chasing her plunged into the pond where her tears had formed, hiding from him.

Best activities

huacachina adventure sport

The oasis is much more popular with young adults looking for an escape from the routine and having the perfect adventure in Peru. It is especially for adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers. But even those who are not interested in these types of activities will find something to enjoy in the same oasis, where they can sail over their quiet waters in charming row-boat. It’s this way that around the oasis, there are numerous adventure activities to take advantage of, like the Dune buggy or Sandboarding.

1. Sandboarding

sandboarding in huacachina

It is an activity full of fun and suitable for all audiences. It could be considered a variant of snowboarding, the only difference is that instead of sliding on snowy, we slide down dunes. And depending on your experience on the board, you can enjoy different levels of difficulty. Even the little ones can slide their own if they wish. The more basic form consists of sliding lying face down over the board.

Either way, as long as you follow the safety guidelines, you don’t have to worry about getting hurt. The travel agencies specialized in sandboarding in Paracas offer complete equipment, including the sandboard, a short instructional class on how to slide down the sand with a specialized guide in the same site, pick up and transfer to your hotel in Huacachina, and move to the top of increasingly large dunes for you to slide over.

2. Dune Buggy

adventure in huacachina oasis

Another popular activity for adrenaline lovers is riding on a Buggy. This tour consists of a wonderful four-wheel dune buggy ride through a vast desert and its giant dunes. Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping ride and buckle up. Buggy tours climb to the tops of the dunes and then speed down. Most of these tours last approximately two hours and are fairly accessible.

In general, shifts starting at four in the afternoon are the best. Since the heat is not that strong there is still enough light to see. Also, many tours within Huacachina combine buggy tours and sandboarding, making them one of the best things to do in Nazca region. Transportation picks you up from your hotel, along with other passengers, to go to the buggy sand station where you begin an awesome ride over giant dunes at full speed in several routes. These powerful machines are driven by expert drivers who cover the same route 5 or 6 times a day. Finally, you will ride the buggies to the top of the dunes and save yourself an uphill hike. Once on the dune top, you just throw yourself onto your board at full speed and enjoy of sandboarding experience.

3. Row-Boat

boat huacachina oasis

In case you are not a fan of adventure activities, there are other calmer alternatives. For a more relaxed way to spend the afternoon, you can choose to enjoy the lagoon on a rowboat. You will find that there are boat rental options on the shore of the lake. It is also a great way to enjoy the oasis if you are traveling with children. However, in case you were wondering, you can’t swim in the oasis, unfortunately, it’s prohibited.

4. Climb the dunes

climb dune huacachina oasis

If you are on a tight budget, a hike to the top of the dunes can give you incredible views of the place. Enjoying the beautiful and the best sunset in Peru on top of the dunes. It is one of the best things to do. Make sure to bring your camera, hat, water, and sunscreen!

5. Cerro Blanco

cerro blanco huacachina

Cerro Blanco is located just about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Nazca, within the Nazca Valley to be more specific. It is also nicknamed the “Everest of the desert” and is considered one of the highest dunes in the world, boasting a height of about 2,080 meters above sea level. It is visited by professional athletes and fans of adrenaline who seek to enjoy extreme sandboarding. They claim that the sensation is the same as going down a giant roller coaster!

Unfortunately, the only way to get to this dune is by walking. The ascent is constant, and although it may seem easy at first, it later becomes quite demanding. Anyway, the experience is worth every minute. When you reach the top you will be able to contemplate from another perspective what the Nazca Valley is. And if you are lucky, you can even see Andean condors flying over the top.

6. Pisco tour

pisco huacachina oasis

If you are not an adventure junkie, don’t worry. Huacachina Oasis also offers other equally fun tours. Being 5 kilometers from Ica, you can take advantage and sign up for one of the various tours through the Ica wineries. The Ica region is where the vast majority of Peru’s wine and Pisco comes from. Pisco is a kind of liquor made with grapes, of great flavor, recognized worldwide, and is the national liquor of Peru. For this reason, one of the best things you can do while visiting the Oasis is to take a tour of a nearby vineyard.

You can learn not only how the famous Pisco is made and prepared through local underground aquifers, but also see the process of Peruvian wine. You will be able to enjoy the afternoon tasting a great variety of Piscos and wines. All while enjoying the wonderful landscapes that surround the wineries. Therefore, being able to enjoy an excellent drink while touring the different wineries is a great way to spend your vacations in Peru. Ica also has some exceptional museums. One of the most interesting is the Regional Museum of Ica. Here you can enjoy a fascinating collection of ceramics, mummies, skulls with trepanning belonging to Paracas and Nazca pre-Inca cultures, and much more.

What to bring

what to bring huacachina oasis

To spend wonderful moments in the oasis and not worry about solar radiation, we believe that it is mandatory to bring these things to the oasis.

  • Carry with you a credit card. The majority of Oasis Huacachina establishments accept debit and credit cards
  • Cash for any emergency
  • Light clothing
  • Cap
  • Sunscreen
  • Sneakers or tennis
  • Shorts
  • T. Shirt
  • windproof
  • Flip-flops
  • Sweaters for winter (In any part of the year the nights are usually very cold)

How to get there

huacachina oasis view

As we tell you, the Huacachina Oasis is located about 5 hours south of Lima (following the South Panamerican highway) and 10 minutes from the southwest of Ica city. For this reason, getting to the beautiful natural oasis is usually pretty straightforward. In addition, numerous companies depart from Lima to Ica, where they try to provide direct transport to the Oasis.

A. To Huacachina by bus

Buses to the Oasis can be taken from a wide variety of Peruvian departments. You can find them in the central bus stations of different cities like Cusco, Tacna, Arequipa, and other important cities. Usually, buses depart daily to Ica (the closest modern Peruvian city to the Oasis), the trip lasts 07 – 08 hours and costs around 80 Soles per person (one way). Bear in mind that these public services run towards Ica and from there, you will have to take a taxi heading to Huachachina (That means 15 Soles more)

In case you are in Lima, or some of the surrounding cities like Paracas or Nazca, the best way to get there is by bus, which costs around 30 to 40 Soles (one way), and the trip lasts around 03 hours. The transport services from the Peru capital to Ica are daily and varied. Once in Ica, you can take a taxi from its main square to the oasis, which is only five kilometers away. The cost of the taxi is around 5 dollars.

B. To Huacachina by plane

Unfortunately, this Oasis is located in the middle of the Peruvian desert and no plane gets to the same attraction. The closest airport is located in the town of Pisco, the airport Capitan FAP Renán Elías Olivera, flights from most Peruvian cities arrive there. The downside is that there are no daily flights to this airport and the cost can start at $50 per person, one way. From the airport, you can take public minivans heading to Ica city (trips 2 hours), the cost is around 30 Soles per person, one way. From Ica, it will be very easy to take a taxi to the Oasis.

Best time to visit

huacachina weather

Remember that Huacachina Oasis is located in the middle of the south Peruvian desert, so the weather there is dry and warm, with clear blue skies and hard sun rays most of the year. However, between January to Marc, the climate reaches its maximum level (more than 90ª F) and it’s considered the best time to visit Huacachina. On the other hand, between May to August the Peruvian region experiences winter (Its lowest temperature) but, don’t worry, because the temperature usually never drops below 75º F.

Be that as it may, as you can see, any moment is the best time to visit the Oasis. This is its differential advantage over other attractions.

Where to eat

huacachina restaurant

From luxurious options to more classic ones, everything can be found in this beautiful Oasis. Please, take note the Oasis is a town that never sleeps. In other words, its restaurant and bar open early in the evening and don’t close before 4:00 am. So you will find a lot of life, color, and music. For this reason, if you want to rest, we recommend you stay as far as possible from the center of the Oasis village.

1. Desert Nights

An American restaurant located in the middle of the Oasis region. The restaurant offers traditional Peruvian food like Ceviche or Lomo Saltado and American delights like hamburgers, pizzas, pasta, French toast, and fries. The business is the only one that accepts credit and debit cards as a method of payment.

Address: Huacachina Boulevard, Ica department, Peru.

2. Nuna Cocina Bar

This restaurant combines the best of Peruvian and international gastronomy, with a vegetarian option. The dishes are delicious and inexpensive. It is located right in front of the oasis.

Address: In front of the oasis, Huacachina 11000, Ica, Peru.

3. Casa de Bamboo

The Bamboo House is the cheapest among restaurants on this list. They serve interesting and delicious dishes from Peruvian and International cuisine, even exotic dishes like Curry, stir-fry, or falafel. In the same way, they have a great variety of vegetarian options.

Address: Perotti Avenue w/n, Ica Peru. Next to the Suiza Hostel and in front of the Bananas Hostel.

4. Wild Olive Trattoria & Guesthouse

This fantastic restaurant is a specialist in Italian cuisine, so the Lasagna and the Pizzas are guaranteed. Also, it has a great offer of vegetarian options and is open almost all day, in this sense, they serve breakfast, lunches, and dinner.

Address: Malecón José Picasso Peratta 154, Huacachina resort, Ica Peru.

Where to stay

huacachina hotel

Being a destination so frequented by tourists, the accommodation options are varied.

  • The Pension Wile Olive is a popular alternative for backpackers.
  • But for more luxurious hotels, the Huacachinero Hotel is a great option with an outdoor pool.
  • We also recommend checking out Hotel Curasi 3-star with comfortable facilities.
  • Our last recommendation is the Wild Rover Hostel for those who are searching for cheap, good, and nice lodges.

And being so close to the city of Ica, you can also choose to stay in this city. Both sites are only a 10-minute drive away. Keep in mind that Huacachina is in the middle of a popular tourist route, that connects Lima, the vineyards of Ica, Nazca lines, the Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands, and Arequipa. So from there you can take advantage and visit these destinations.

Enjoy safe

rest assured in huacachina oasis

Huacachina is a town very sure. Although many restaurants, discos, and bars open until late at night (Most of them work until 5:00 am), so the town in the evenings is usually very noisy. If you want peace and tranquility, we recommend you stay far from the downtown.

Regarding adventure tours developed in the same sand dunes in Huacachina, the tour operators located in the oasis town that offer these kinds of services, include guides-instructors for your security. Besides, every tour includes necessary secure equipment like safety belts, and helmets, among others. For this reason, you rest assured about the services and locals in the Oasis.

The majority of establishments around the Oasis accept debit or credit cards. However, carrying some cash (we recommend Soles) will always be useful in case of emergency.


As you can see, this wonderful place is one not to be overlooked. Especially if you plan to go through places like Nazca, Paracas, Ballestas, or Ica. We hope together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru to have explained the guide manual 2023 of the Oasis in all detail. We believe that the best way to get to know it is with an expert travel guide who will accompany you to discover this fascinating place. If you want to start organizing your trip to this beautiful oasis, you can consult with our qualified advisors. They will be happy to help you make the trip of your dreams come true.

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!