Read this travel guide to learn about the fascinating desert oasis of Huacachina in Peru, including what to do, the best time to visit, where to eat, how to get there, and more.
While Peru may be best known for its Andean landscapes, around 10% of the country comprises sandy coastal desert. One of the best places to see this side of Peru is Huacachina, a unique desert oasis located just a few hours south of Lima near Ica. Spend a day here and you’ll have the chance to marvel at vast dunes reminiscent of the Sahara, take a paddle boat out onto the lagoon, ride on a dune buggy, or even go sandboarding.
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Overview Desert Oasis Huacachina in Peru
The town of Huacachina is centered around the Laguna Huacachina, a small lagoon fed by a natural spring and framed by leafy green palms. The town is surrounded by massive dunes that are both picturesque and perfect for adventure activities like sandboarding and dune buggy rides. Tourism is the only industry here, and the lagoon is surrounded by tour agencies, restaurants, and hotels catering to visitors.
Many Lima residents and tourists come to Huacachina on the weekends to enjoy the sunshine and get away from the chaos of city life. It is also a popular stop-off for travelers who visit on a day trip or stay overnight on their way to visit Paracas, Nazca Lines, or Arequipa.
History of Huacachina Oasis Peru
Huacachina has long been a beloved destination for both local and international tourists. The oasis was once renowned for its believed healing properties, captivating wealthy Peruvians in the 1960s. Today, while still holding its former charm, Huacachina has transformed into a vibrant hub. The lagoon is now lined with restaurants and hotels showcasing beautiful Spanish colonial revival architecture, evoking a sense of nostalgia.
Nowadays, Huacachina attracts a diverse crowd, particularly adventurous 20-somethings seeking thrilling experiences. However, even those less inclined towards adventure will discover something delightful in this charming town with a rich history.
On Huacachina’s main walkway, a Beautiful mermaid statue stands as a symbol of a renowned legend surrounding the lake’s origins. According to one version of the tale, a young Inca princess was strolling through the desert, delicately combing her hair as she admired her reflection in a mirror. Suddenly, her gaze met that of a hunter observing her from afar, causing her to startle and drop the mirror.
The mirror shattered upon impact, magically transforming into the tranquil lagoon we see today. Seeking refuge, the princess submerged herself in the water, only to emerge as a mesmerizing mermaid. The tunic she had left behind became the majestic dunes encircling the lake. It is said that during nights with a full moon, her enchanting melodies can still be heard echoing across the land.
What to Do in The Oasis of Huacachina
During your visit to Huacachina, you’ll discover a multitude of captivating activities that are truly worth experiencing. Allow me to share some of the most sought-after things to do in this enchanting destination
As Huacachina is located in the middle of the desert, it’s no surprise that sandboarding is a popular activity here. You can rent a board and hit the dunes for an exhilarating ride down the sandy slopes.
Huacachina Sand Dune Buggy Rides
If you’re looking for a more adrenaline-fueled experience, hop on a dune buggy and let an expert driver take you on a thrilling ride through the vast dunes surrounding Huacachina. It’s sure to get your heart racing!
The sunsets in Huacachina are simply breathtaking and one of the must-do activities during your stay here. Climb up to one of the lookout points or take a peaceful walk around the oasis to witness the stunning colors as the sun dips below the horizon.
You may not associate wine with a desert town, but Huacachina is home to several wineries that produce delicious wines using grapes from nearby vineyards. Take a tour and sample some of the local varieties while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Boat Ride on the Oasis
For a unique perspective of Huacachina, take a boat ride on the oasis itself! You can rent a small boat and paddle around at your leisure, taking in the picturesque surroundings from a different angle.
Hiking and Nature Walks
The desert landscape surrounding Huacachina offers endless opportunities for hiking and nature walks. Explore the dunes, spot local wildlife, and take in the stunning views from the top of a dune.
With its remote location and clear skies, Peru is the perfect place for stargazing. Whether you’re camping in the Andes or staying at a remote eco-lodge in the Amazon rainforest, there are plenty of opportunities to gaze up at the night sky and spot constellations and shooting stars.
As our tour leaders are avid outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, we know all the best spots for stargazing. Our itineraries often include nights spent under the stars, where we provide blankets and hot beverages to keep you warm as you marvel at the beauty of the universe above.
But stargazing isn’t just limited to the night sky. During our daytime activities, we often incorporate opportunities to observe wildlife and their behavior. From spotting colorful macaws in the Amazon to watching condors soar over the Sacred Valley, there is always something fascinating happening in nature.
Huacachina Day Trips
Located near southern Peru’s renowned tourist sites, Huacachina offers convenient access to must-visit destinations. Don’t miss the chance to explore the nearby attractions, including the impressive Paracas National Reserve, the captivating Ballestas Islands, and, of course, the enigmatic Nazca Lines.
Best Time to Visit Desert Oasis of Huacachina
Huacachina boasts a delightful desert climate, characterized by warm and sunny days and scarce rainfall. Thanks to this consistently pleasant weather, Huacachina welcomes visitors year-round. When planning a trip to Peru, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the optimal time to visit, as weather conditions in other destinations and regions may be less predictable.
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How to Get Huacachina Desert Oasis
Located just a quick 10-minute drive from Ica, a bustling city about 5 hours south of Lima, you’ll find the enchanting Huacachina Oasis. Whether you’re exploring Peru on a guided tour package or venturing independently, adding a stop in Huacachina to your Paracas or Nazca tour is a must.
For those traveling independently, the most convenient way to reach Huacachina is by taking a bus from Lima to Ica. From Ica, a short taxi ride will transport you to the oasis town in no time. If you prefer the freedom of a rental car, fear not – the Huacachina Oasis is easily accessible via a well-paved road connecting it to Ica, and you can rely on your trusty GPS to guide you there.
What to Bring
Don’t forget to bring along these essential items when you visit the enchanting Huacachina Oasis:
- Cash in Peruvian soles
- Hat or sun cap for protection
- Sunblock so you don’t get burned
- Plenty of water to drink
- Lightweight clothing
- Sandals or flip-flops
- Tennis shoes/sneakers (mandatory for sandboarding)
- A sweater or jacket if spending the night
- Camera or GoPro
Where to Eat
Huacachina, a renowned hotspot for international tourists, boasts a remarkably diverse array of dining establishments. Here, you’ll find an exquisite selection of restaurants that cater to every palate. Allow me to share a few of the local favorites
WILD OLIVE TRATTORIA & GUEST HOUSE
Indulge in the delightful offerings of this Italian restaurant, serving delectable dishes from breakfast through dinner. From mouthwatering pizza to timeless pasta classics like lasagna, our menu is sure to satisfy your cravings throughout the day.
LA CASA DE BAMBOO
Located within a backpacker hostel, this restaurant and cafe presents an enticing blend of flavors. Delight in a diverse array of dishes ranging from aromatic curries to flavorful falafels and sizzling stir-fries. Moreover, the establishment boasts an abundant selection of vegan and vegetarian options, catering to diverse dietary preferences.
Experience the best of both worlds at this restaurant, where Peruvian staples like Lomo Saltado and ceviche harmoniously blend with American classics such as burgers and fries.
Savor the delectable Peruvian delights and indulge in Peruvian-Chinese culinary classics, such as the flavorful Chaufa, at this affordable eatery.
Where to Stay
In Huacachina, most lodging options consist of modest hotels and backpacker hostels, often offering amenities such as bars and pools. Some of the most popular options include Hotel Curasi, Desert Nights Ecocamp, And Hotel El Huacachinero.
For a wider range of options, you can also spend the night in the nearby city of Ica. The elegant Hotel Las Dunas is a favorite of many visitors to the area. Alternatively, you can stay at a Paracas resort or Nazca hotel and visit Huacachina on a day trip.
Remember that our travel advisors can book any hotel in Peru!
Plan Your Trip
If you’re seeking an enchanting and delightful addition to your Peru itinerary, look no further than Huacachina! This unique destination is sure to captivate and charm you with its allure and splendor.