Five minutes from the southern town of Ica and an hour form Pisco lies the Huacachina, a town tucked away in the rolling folds of the Peruvian desert and wrapped around a real life oasis. This lake between the dunes in the Peruvian desert is no mirage.
The oasis has an interesting folklore tale begin it. Legend says the lake was created by a young Peruvian maiden named Huacay China whose betrothed was killed in battle. The maiden ran to the spot where she last saw him and cried until a lake formed around her. When another solider tried to take her for his own, she fled in fear and her folds of her skirt created the waves of dunes. In fear she threw herself into water where she continues to live as a mermaid.
Today, Huacachina has become a thriving tourism destination with an infrastructure of hotels, restaurants and bars more opening all the time. The large dunes and lake create an outdoor playground for activities including sand boarding, canoeing, kayaking and swimming.
Tourism has put pressure on the lake, with an increasing demand for the water. Conscientious efforts to artificially keep the lake’s levels higher has had a positive effect. The rich sulphuric content which comes from the underground minerals keep the lake at a gorgeous emerald hue and the surrounding palms and eucalyptuses only add to the oasis’ charm.
The main draw for tourists is the excellent dune buggy rides and sand-boarding opportunities. The buggies hold between six and sixteen people and are fortunately protected by a roll cage and experience driver who take great delight in terrifying tourists as they plunge down the high dunes.
Sand-boarding works in much the same way as snow-boarding. Don’t expect a plethora of ski lifts or chairs – you’ll have to take exhausting climbs in the hot Peruvian desert heat to enjoy this adventure sport. However, the thrill is well worth it. If you can’t snow-board, don’t worry at all, you can simply sit on the board and hurtle down instead.
If all this sounds just too much energy, drop a towel down at the edge of the hotel pool or oasis and take periodical dips in the cool waters. The area makes for a perfect base from which to explore the Ballestas Islands, Nazca Lines and nearby Ica.
One of the most interesting parts of the day is when the sun sets over the rolling peaks, the desert comes alive with a sky of psychedelic colours that bounce off the lake.
Want to visit Huacachina and the oasis in the desert? Or thinking about a tour throughout Peru or Latin America? Call us on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to speak with a specialist, send us a message here or take a look at our Peru tours.