Sandboarding in the mist

Trip Start Aug 26, 2005
Trip End May 26, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, July 16, 2006

With the help of a travelers best friend - Valium at 10 cents a pop, I slept through the entire 10 hour bus ride from Arequipa in Southern Peru, arriving in the mist covered town of Ica, near the coast in Central Western Peru. I am completely surrounded by sand dunes.

The town was called Huacachina. A fake lagoon has been built in the middle of a sandy desert to bring in the tourists. And it works a treat. It's a magical place, a blue lagoon, lined with palm trees, a boardwalk, restaurants and green grass. Only meters away from the oasis, the sand dunes take over and rolling sand hills stretch as far as the eye can see.

There are 2 essential things to do in Huacachina:
1 - Dune buggy rides
2 - Sand boarding

We combined the 2 and took a tour over the amazing spanning sand dunes in an absolute beast of a sand buggy.

The ride felt like a roller coaster, we had our hands in the air, screaming like school kids as we caught massive air off the back of the dunes, then pointed straight down and gunned the accelerator picking up speed as we hit the flats. Thirty minutes of buggy action and we arrived at the top of a monstrous sand dune. Here we got out, oiled up our boards and strapped in. Looking down the slope, it was equivalent to a black ski run. Straight down to a sandy grave below. I was the first of our group to throw the fear factor away and point the board downhill. I managed a few turns before the heavy sand weighed me down and I ate it. I got a mouth full of sand as I performed a massive face plant. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be but eventually made it to the bottom and admired the spectacle of my buddies, coming down by any means possible. Some of them opted for the face first belly approach. With no way of stopping, they sped down the slope and if I thought my stack was big, it was nothing compared to the stacks that followed. A cloud of sand was all I could see and when they joined me at the bottom they had sand burns all over their arms, legs and torso. Painful stuff. We had 6 runs at various dunes, taking more and more injuries as we went. I had sand burns all over my arms and torso and sand everywhere but a big smile on my face.

A spectacular sunset over the desert finished our day and we returned to the hostel to attempt to wash the sand from orifices we didn't know existed. Even now, 3 days later I'm finding sand in my ears and hair.

South America isn't turning out to be the poverty stuck region I was expecting. The food has been brilliant, the transport couldn't be any easier (although it isn’t exactly comfortable) and the people are amazing. As I head north, away from Bolivia and to Northern Peru it’s becoming increasingly easier to get around.

I stayed at the Oasis for 2 days and then headed towards Lima on a 5 hour luxury bus.
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