Trip Start Apr 23, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, May 3, 2012

I arrived in Ica feeling a little tender and immediately caught a taxi to Huacachina, a tiny desert oasis on the edge of the somewhat dusty and unimpressive main town. Driving down a single twisting road surrounded by towering sand dunes on either side I remember thinking that it was all a bit surreal: you´re only supposed to see places like this in movies...

There was only one road in and out of Huacachina and it was TINY! It would have taken me no more than ten minutes to walk around the entire town, but I couldn´t help feeling I could have spent weeks there. A turquoise lagoon surrounded by palm trees and huge sand dunes, the sun searing hot. My hostel was comfortable enough and served the best burgers I´ve ever tasted, not quite traditional peruvian cusine, but as much as I enjoyed ceviche there was just no contest.

The reason tourists flock to the desert oasis is to try their hand at sand boarding down the terrifyingly steep dunes and on my second day there, it was my turn. At 4pm our group was bundled into a dune buggy, where I met Maria - a lovely Welsh girl who had just finished university. We raced across the dunes, I swear the driver was purposely making it as hard as possible to physically stay inside the buggy... We reached the top of the first dune after an exhilerating ride, scrambling out we all headed for the edge of the dune and almost simutaneously: "Are you fucking kidding?!"

You would expect the guides to ease you gently into the idea of hurtling down a mountain of sand, but no... this was MASSIVE. Almost immediately everyone gave up fantasies of boarding upright and opted for the seeminly less daunting prospect of lying on your belly: less daunting until the guides rubbed wax on the bottom of the board to make you go faster... faster was not what I wanted for my first attempt!

However, I sucked it up and went down second, after Maria who seemed to have no fear at all.

It was amazing! Ready for the next dune, we all hurried back into the buggy to be thrown around on the way to the second, bigger test of balls. Getting well into it, I insited on going first on the third dune, paying no attention to the Spanish the guide was blabbering I zoomed off down the dune.

Something wasn´t right... this was a bit too fast.

All of a sudden I came hurtling off the board and was thrown to the bottom of the dune boardless, lucky I had got the shock-proof, sand-proof camera. Ouch! Turned out that Spanish the guy was ´blabbering´ was quite important. This dune was much steeper than the rest and it was vital you dig your feet in for brakes... opps!

A little shaken after my near death experience, I began to wonder if my travel insurance covered this... better not to think about it, eh? Hesitant about going again, it took me a good ten minutes to syke myself up, but eventually I did and was glad of it! The last two were definitely the best. After we'd all went we were driven to the top of the dunes once more to watch the sun set.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... And it was gone. Breath-taking.

Having dinner at the hostel with Maria over a few beers I very nearly shat it when some insane guy jumped up behind me shouting ´SURPRISE!´ It was Stuart, the guy from Scotland i'd met in Lima and, true to form, he managed to convince us to try and find a bar for some drinks. It didn´t take long to find the only open bar in Huacachina and after a few beers Maria and I moved on to a cocktail called ´Huacafuckinchina´. I think the name itself is pretty explainitary, and after a few of them, teamed with some pisco shots, the rest of the night got a little hazy...

According to the pictures I has a great time, got to be a bartender and everything. Checking my purse in the morning to check the damage it seemed like there was nothing missing and after asking Maria and Stuart how much they'd spent, only to find out they hadn´t spent any money either, we realised that we'd accidentally done a runner from the only bar in Huacachina!

Again, I had to sit through another bus journey unwashed, smelling of booze and feeling very sorry for myself on the way to Nazca where I´d meet Maria later that day.
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