Although Peru is best known for its mountains, it also has coastal deserts. And one of the best places to appreciate the sand is the Huacachina Oasis. This small town has become a tourist destination par excellence and its visit is one of the best things to do in Peru. Its fertile and lush lagoon is surrounded by palm trees, hotels, and exquisite restaurants. Therefore, together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared an article about this wonderful place. Get to know this magical corner of Peru in-depth and enjoy everything it has to offer.
All about the fascinating Huacachina Oasis
- Overview of Huacachina oasis
- History of the Huacachina oasis
- Huacachina adventure tours
- Huacachina alternative tours around
- How to get to Huacachina
- Where to eat and sleep
- Safety in Huacachina
- Best time to visit it
- What to bring
Overview of Huacachina oasis
Huacachina is the unique natural oasis in all of South America that is surrounded by edification, restaurants, palms, and slender sand dunes. It is located in the middle of a desert in southern Lima and 5 kilometers to the west of Ica city.
1. The town
It was built around a natural oasis in the middle of the desert as a refuge for the upper classes, but today it has become a quintessential tourist destination, with a population that does not exceed 150 residents. It is surrounded by huge dunes that are the main stage for different tourist activities. The town subsists on the tourist industry for the most part. Thanks to this, you will find a wide variety of travel agencies, restaurants, and hotels. Today it has become one of the best destinations to enjoy summer in Peru.
2. The oasis
It is a small lagoon fed by a natural spring, making it the only natural oasis in Latin America.
History of the Huacachina oasis
In past times, it was fervently believed that the waters of the oasis had healing powers. And it was during the 1960s that Huacachina became a tourist center for Peruvian upper-class people. So for a long time, Huacachina was the resting place of the country’s elite. But now, with more amplified purchasing power in Peruvian society, the oasis is home to any Peruvian and foreign visitors with the growing tourism industry. Therefore, receives more national tourists in comparison to 40 years ago. Of course, international tourist is not far behind.
Today, Huacachina is much more popular with young adults looking for an escape from the routine. 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.
Legend of Huacachina
At the main entrance to the Oasis, there is a statue of a mermaid and a wishing well. The story goes that before the oasis existed, there was a young Inca woman who was extremely beautiful. One day, while looking in the mirror, she was able to discern a hunter, through her reflection. Scared, she began to run away from the hunter. But during his escape, all her dresses fell to the ground to create the sand dunes in Huacachina we see today. Next, the woman also dropped the mirror, which shattered instantly.
The pieces formed the current lagoon where she plunged, to hide from man’s sight. She waited for a large time, once in a while surfacing to see if the hunter was gone. On a certain day, she was surprised when she realized that she no longer had feet, but was a huge mermaid. Since then, legend has it that the mermaid comes out on full moon nights to make singles fall in love and take them to her lake. Even Huacachina is translated from Quechua as “the woman who cries for her lost love.” Definitely, this legend is a point that makes Huacachina Oasis one of the most famous places in Peru.
Huacachina adventure tours
Around Huacachina Oasis, there are numerous adventure activities to take advantage of. The lagoon itself is perfect for taking a dip and cooling off from all the heat. Although, there are also rowboats to rent and navigate the lagoon. But if you have more energy and are looking for the perfect adventure in Peru and its coasts, you can enjoy sandboarding. It is one of the most popular activities around the Huacachina Oasis.
One of the activities for which Huacachina is quite known is sandboarding. Sandboarding could be considered a variant of snowboarding. The only difference is that instead of sliding on snowy, we slide down sand dunes. And the boards, that you can hire in the Travel Agencies of the town joining a group with a guide-instructor previously, are specially designed to slide on the sand.
It is an activity full of fun and suitable for all audiences. Even the little ones can ride aboard if they wish. And depending on your experience on the board, you can enjoy different levels of difficulty. Even if you’ve never stood on two feet on a board before, other techniques make the visitor lies face down over the boards to slide. This sport has become a very popular sport, which already exists in other places, for example, Sandboarding in Paracas is one of them. Either way, as long as you follow the safety guidelines, you don’t have to worry about getting hurt.
2. Dune Buggy
Another popular activity for adrenaline lovers is riding on a Buggy. This tour consists is a wonderful buggy ride through the dunes. You will be able to enjoy four-wheel drive at full speed over a vast desert. 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 and there is still enough light to see. Also, many tours within Huacachina tend to combine both buggy tours and sandboarding, making them one of the best things to do in Nazca. You can ride the buggies to the top of the dunes and save yourself an uphill hike. Then you just throw yourself into your board at full speed.
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. While it is also a great way to enjoy the oasis if you are traveling with children. And in case you were wondering, you can’t swim in the oasis, it’s prohibited.
4. Climb the dunes
If you are on a tight budget, a hike to the top of the sand 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. One-day trips
Huacachina is conveniently and strategically located near numerous tourist sites in our country. From the wonderful Paracas National Reserve to the nearby Ballestas Islands. You can even continue your journey to the mysterious Nazca lines. The Huacachina Oasis can be one of the many stops on your itinerary in Peru. So, you can connect this destination with some other places of great interest.
Huacachina alternative tours around
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 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 and is the national liquor of Peru. One of the best things you can do while visiting Huacachina is to take a tour of a nearby vineyard.
1. Pisco tour
You can learn not only how the famous Pisco is made and prepared, 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. 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, and much more.
How to get to Huacachina
As we tell you, the Huacachina Oasis is located 10 minutes from the city of Ica and about 5 hours south of Lima. Getting to the beautiful natural oasis of Huacachina is usually pretty straightforward. Numerous companies depart from Lima to Ica, where they try to provide a direct service to Huacachina from the Peruvian capital.
1. To Huacachina by bus
Buses to Huacachina can be taken from a wide variety of places. You can find them in the central bus stations of Cusco, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, and other important destinations. Usually, these depart every day to Ica (the closest modern Peruvian city to Huacachina) and cost around 80 Soles per person. Bear in mind that these public services run towards Ica and from there, you will have to take a taxi heading to Huachachina.
In case you are in the Peruvian capital, the best way to get there is by bus from Lima to Ica, which cost around 30 to 40 Soles. The services from the capital to Ica are daily and varied. Once in Ica, you can take a taxi to the oasis, which is only five kilometers from the wine city. The cost of the taxi is around 5 dollars approximately. Be sure to check out this unprecedented attraction.
2. To Huacachina by plane
Unfortunately, the Oasis of Huacachina 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 zones arrive there. From the airport, you can take buses heading to Ica city (trips 2 hours). From Ica, it will be very easy to take a taxi to Huacachina.
Where to eat and sleep
The restaurants and hotels that surround the lagoon are composed of unique architecture. Most of them tried to replicate the Spanish colonial period in their structures. Also, you will find a great variety of options for restaurants and hotels. From luxurious options to more classic ones, everything can be found in Huacachina. As for places to enjoy delicious food, we recommend Casa del Bamboo and Wild Olive.
Being a destination so frequented by tourists, the accommodation options are varied. La Casa de Arena is a popular alternative for backpackers. But for more luxurious hotels, the Mossone hotel is a great option. We also recommend checking out Hotel Curasi, Hotel El Huacachinero, and Desert Nights Ecocamp. And being so close to the city of Ica, you can also choose to stay in Ica. Both sites are only a 10-minute drive away. Keep in mind that Huacachina is on a popular tourist route, so from there you can take advantage and visit other destinations.
Safety in Huacachina
Huacachina is a town very sure. Although there are many restaurants, discos, and bars that open until late at night (Even, though some of them work until 5:00 am), its streets, streets, and the main square are calm, well-illuminated, and secure. As you can see, the Huacachina Oasis has a long and active nightlife (Due to its condition as a tourist destination) for its main client, the tourist. Therefore, the local municipality always makes patrols and police available 24 hours.
Regarding the adventure tours like Sandboarding or Dune Buggy, the tour operators located in Huacachina town that offer these kinds of services, include guides-instructors for your security. Besides, every tour includes an hour of instruction before the adventure in the same sand dunes in Huacachina. For this reason, you rest assured about the services and locals in Huacachina Oasis.
Please note that there is only one ATM in the entire town of Huacachina. But the vast majority of accommodations and restaurants accept credit and debit cards.
Best time to visit it
Remember that Huacachina Oasis is located in the Peruvian desert, so the weather there is dry and warm the most part of the year. However, between January to March the climate reaches its maximum level (more than 90ª F). In 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.
In general words, always is the best time to visit Huacachina Oasis.
What to bring
- Carry with you Cash, Soles, or Dollars. (There is only one unreliable ATM in all Huacachina Oasis)
- Light clothing
- Sneakers or tennis
- T. Shirt
- Sweaters for winter (Only as a precaution)
“FAITH IS AN OASIS IN THE HEART WHICH WILL NEVER BE REACHED BY THE CARAVAN OF THINKING”
As you can see, this wonderful place is one not to be overlooked. Especially if you plan to go through places like Nazca, Paracas, or Ica. We hope together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru to have explained a little about Huacachina Oasis. We believe that the best way to get to know this oasis is on your own on a personalized trip. If you want to start organizing your trip to the beautiful oasis of Huacachina, 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!