Huacachina Oasis, is a tiny stop not far from the town of Ica in Peru, Huacachina is basically a collection of resorts and restaurants in front of a lagoon in the middle of the desert. The oasis was originally built as a retreat for the higher classes, but today is a hive of activity for the local people and tourists alike, the locals have taken advantage of the oasis setting up businesses like restaurants and souvenir stalls, but Huacachina, the oasis of Ica remains an oasis in the dunes and is well worth a visit.
Getting to Huacachina is not difficult, there are many companies that leave from Lima to Ica, like PeruHop they provide a direct service to Huacachina from Lima city, also Cruz del Sur and Soyuz have daily services to Ica from Lima. Once you are in Ica you will need to take a taxi to the oasis, which is located five kilometers from Ica, the cost will be around fifteen soles, but make sure you see the official documents of the taxi driver.
There are many legends surrounding Huacachina: the oasis of Ica, at the main entrance there is a statue of a mermaid and a wishing well, the reason for this is that there is a legend that a mermaid lives in the lake, legend has it that before Huacachina existed there was a young girl from the countryside combing her hair and looking at herself in the mirror, the girl was extremely beautiful and she had made a pact with a god that she would be with him forever, one day while looking in the mirror she was a stranger, said to be a hunter, passing by and fell in love with him, the god found out and was very angry and cast a spell on her that turned her into a mermaid, this meant that she could never be with the hunter, is said that as he was casting his spell the mirror crashed to the ground and created the lagoon, and all her dresses blew away to create the sand dunes that are around Huacachina. Legends says that she comes out at night, in the full moon to sing to the single men that pass by trying to get them to enter the lake. Huacachina is a Quechua word meaning the woman who cries for her lost love.
There are many different adventure activities to do around Huacachina, the lagoon itself is perfect for a midday dip and also you can hire paddle boats which are a fun way to pass a few hours at the desert oasis, if you are feeling more energetic you may like to walk to the top of the dunes, this may take you and hour, depending on how fit you are, but once you reach the top the views are spectacular, you will see the town, the lagoon not to mention the rolling sand dunes, make sure you take your camera, water and a hat, sunset is the most beautiful do if you have time do a sunset walk.
Sand boarding is extremely popular activity in Huacachina, The Oasis of Ica, you can easily rent a sand board for a few soles, it is essential that you get wax for the bottom of your board, without it you will not be able to slide down the dunes, this activity can be fun but take care as you can achieve break neck speeds, and we do mean breakneck.
Most of the tour operators around Huacachina offer tours in Dune buggies. This is considered to be the most exciting of things to do in Huacachina, if you love and adventure and roller coaster you will love this adventure, most tours are about two hours long and will cost you around fifty soles this also includes sandboarding. The late afternoon tour, starting around four in the afternoon, is probably the best time of day to tale the tour as the sun is enough to illuminate the dunes but no longer strong enough to burn and sometimes the driver will take you to a good vantage point to see the sunset.
All-terrain vehicles, quad bikes, can also be hired from a company called Desert Night but they can be expensive. Many of the hotels have swimming pools so you will need to bring your bathing suit and you may have to pay a small fee to enter.
If you are not an adventure junkie there are tours for you also, tour of the wineries in Ica that produce Pisco and sweet red wine are a great way to pass a few hours, the wineries range from small family run businesses to huge industries that supply Peru with Pisco and export to Europe and America. Museums include the most interesting Museo Regional de Ica, which has a fascinating collection of clay pottery, mummies, human skulls with interesting drilled holes and textiles from all the ancient civilizations that lived in the area, the dry conditions in the area have preserved the bodies and fabrics so these are in excellent condition, the entrance for this museum is ten soles and is well worth money.
There are numerous places to eat in Huacachina from the pricey to the cheap all can be found here, recommended is the Bamboo Café and for Pizza the Casa de Avinaom. To stay in Huacachina there is a variety of choices from Hostels like the Casa de Arena which is extremely popular with back packers, which features its own swimming pool, restaurant and bar with a disco. For a more upmarket Hotel the hotel Mossone will cost you more but is geared more to the tourists and is a quiet but will cost you around US$100 per night. Form the town of Ica you can catch a bus to either Paracas or the desert town of Nazca and take flights over the world famous Nazca Lines.
Huacachina: The Oasis of Ica, a great place to spend a day or two on your next Peruvian holiday, don’t pass it by take the time and you won’t regret the adventure or the experience.