Lots of sand and lots of food!

Trip Start May 08, 2013
Trip End Sep 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hostal Huacachina Sunset

Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Huacachina is a small village in south-west Peru, not too far from the city of Ica. Huacachina is built around a small oasis/lagoon with massive sand dunes all around the village that are hundreds of feet high. This is a little excerpt from Wikipedia that you can either choose to believe or, do what I do, ignore:

"Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid."

So I could be within reach of an actual mermaid as I type this. Yup.

The oasis is artificially filled with water to keep up the beautiful appearance, because unfortunately local farmers have drained the water out of it. Backpackers generally visit Huacachina to see the lovely oasis and to sand board/take a ride in a buggy over the sand dunes. If the oasis was dry, I don't think Huacachina would attract backpackers in quite the same way.

We arrived here on the bus from Paracas to Ica and then we jumped in a tiny taxi to Huacachina. The whole journey was only an hour and a half so it was a really short ride. It is a really cool little village. The locals are pretty friendly, seems quite safe and there is a really relaxed vibe about the whole place.

We are staying in Hostal Huacachina Sunset which is pretty average but does the job. Most days we had no hot water and the wifi was pretty much non-existent though! We have also been to La Casa De Bamboo which is a little restaurant run by an English lady and her Peruvian husband. We had an excellent red Thai curry there on the first afternoon which was absolutely beautiful. Full of tasty vegetables. Next door to our hostel is Desert Nights; another place that provides accommodation but they have a lovely little restaurant that overlooks the oasis, and is always full of travellers from all over the world, so there is a great atmosphere. We have already eaten there 3 times in the past 24 hours - some tasty nachos, a fruit-filled breakfast pancake and their 'menu of the day' at lunch time. Andrew and I normally order two things off the menu to share and he ends up eating about 3/4 of the whole lot! Suits me fine because it means I'm not left eating food that I don't really want and he eats way more than I do anyway so it works out well. Desert Nights have a 'happy hour' 2 for 1 promotion on cocktails so we have made the most of that and tried Peru's national drink - Pisco Sour - and various other cocktails. The Pisco Sour is made of Pisco, egg white, lemon juice and sugar - YUM!

The sand dunes are absolutely magnificent. On our first night we climbed all the way to the top of one of the dunes. It was ridiculously steep and at one point we were on all fours to clamber up the final bit to the top! The view was amazing and absolutely worth the tough climb up. We had an amazing view over the oasis, could see sand dunes for miles and could even see the city of Ica. Andrew was pretty tired after the climb up so we went back down before sunset. That just meant we had to go up again the following evening! We climbed up a steeper dune and crawled up most of the way. We sat and watched the sunset then slid back down. We tried Lomo Saltado for dinner which is a Peruvian dish with beef, tomatoes, onions and French fries all mixed together and served with rice. Yummy! Also have had tasty chicken wings, fresh fruit salads and more Peruvian fried rice. The food has been really good in Huacachina, which is good because I don't envisage us getting much more good food for the next week or so as we are heading to the Colca Canyon to do some trekking and will be on the go a lot of the time.

Tomorrow we are taking a Cruz Del Sur bus to Nasca which is only two hours away, and we will kill a bit of time in Nasca in the afternoon before taking the overnight bus to Arequipa. Arequipa will be my first ever time at high altitude so I hope I don't get sick!
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