South America is full of amazing and breathtaking landscapes and one of the most impressive ones is located in Peru. Here you will find Huacachina, a real desert oasis with the highest sand dunes in South America. The best things to do in Huacachina is to go sandboarding, dune buggying and to hike to the top of the dunes for both sunrise and sunset.
The oasis is covered with lush green palm trees and a beautiful lagoon where you can rent a paddleboat to just relax and enjoy the landscape, as it is not recommended to swim in the lagoon.
Important information about Huacachina:
Huacachina is a small oasis town right outside of the big city of Ica, so when looking for hotels make sure they are around the lake. Ica, the home of Pisco, and only 4.5 hours away from Lima, which makes it a perfect day trip from Peru’s capital city.
ATM: In the oasis there is not a working ATM so make sure to bring plenty of cash.
Weather: The temperature ranges from 25 to 30 degrees celsius during the day all year round. At night it can get chilly, so it is best to bring a sweater if you want to enjoy a clear starry night in the sand dunes.
Bring water and sunscreen: The sun is very strong in Huacachina and it is hot. It is super important to carry plenty of water with you and always wear sunscreen.
How long should you stay in Huacachina?
It all depends on what you will like to do and what time of day you arrive to Huacachina. In reality there is not much to do in the oasis besides hiking the sand dunes, go sand boarding and sand buggying. We recommend to stay at least one day and one night in Huacachina to enjoy both sunrise and sunset over the dunes, with the chance to go stargazing. Several of the hotels have pools to cool off and relax in the heat of day.
How to get to Huacachina?
From Lima there are countless tour operators that offer a day trip to Huacachina but we strongly recommend using Peru Hop as the service is fantastic and hassle-free, a luxury in itself in South American transportation. Huacachina is 4.5 hours away from Lima and only 1 hour away from Paracas, another paradise city to visit in Peru!
Other ways of transportation to Huacachina are taxi or renting a car, which can get pricey based on your starting location.
Where to stay in Huacachina?
We stayed at the Hosteria Suiza, it cost us $33 USD per night for a private 2 person dorm. It is a simple rustic feeling room with a shared bathroom, but it was a good price, well situated, and has a beautiful pool.
Other travelers said that the best place to stay in Huacachina is the Banana’s Adventure. We went there for lunch, which was well made and the atmosphere is fantastic if you are looking to socialize with other visitors.
From the months of June to August it is high season, so it is best to book your hotels ahead of time to avoid having to sleep in the city outside the oasis.
What to do in Huacachina?
Get an Adrenaline Rush Dune Buggying
The first thing we did in Huacachina was take a private buggy tour to explore the seemingly endless desert sand dunes. We chose to take a one hour private tour because we wanted to take a photos, videos and drone shots without interfering with other people’s experience. The private tour cost us $40 USD instead of $30 USD for a two hour group tour.
The group tour leaves every day at 4PM and cost $15 USD per person (45 soles). The two hour tour starts with adrenaline pumping dune blasting in the buggy by your professional tour driver. Both tours include the option to sandboard down the dunes. Even if you are afraid of heights you still must do it, it is an amazing experience and is not as scary as it seems.
The good thing about sandboarding in Huacachina is that you are only allowed to go sitting or laying down to avoid accidents and injuries. This way you can easily regulate your speed with your hands and feet. You can also rent special skis or snowboards if you want to go standing up.
The main difference between the two hour group tour or the one hour private tour is that in the group tour it takes longer for everyone to enjoy sandboarding and allow for everyone to get photographs from the same spot. Depending on when you choose to do the private tour, both of the tours can include sunset in the sand dunes.
Hike the Tallest Sand Dunes in South America
After our one hour private dune buggy tour we decided to climb the highest sand dunes in South America to enjoy one of the most magical sunsets we have witnessed. We are not going to lie, it it a lot of leg work to reach the top, but it was so worth it that we did it again for sunrise. The two tallest sand dunes on either side of Huacachina are known for being the perfect sunset and sunrise spot.
No matter which you chose, you cannot go wrong, as both sand dunes are breathtaking spots for sunset and sunrise. The hike to the top of the sand dunes can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes to climb up. depending on your physical condition. It is best to avoid hiking in the middle of the day to avoid the strong sun and higher temperatures.
If it is a clear night, Huacachina provides an amazing opportunity for stargazing, if you are willing to walk back into the dunes at nightfall. Make sure to bring along a flashlight and sweater. Check for clouds before heading out as you want to be met with a sky full of stars after the long trek.
Tour a Historic Pisco Vineyard
Once you are done exploring the desert oasis of Huacachina, we recommend to take a Pisco Tour in Ica. Ica is the home of the famous Peruvian national drink and is only 15 minutes away. We took a tour of El Catador winery with Peru Hop, where we learned everything about the making of Pisco, the history behind this popular drink and did a small pisco tasting experience. So now you have to be wondering what is Pisco? Well, it is a sweet wine that tastes delicious and is best enjoyed in the Pisco Sour mixed drink!