Imagine travelling through the exhausting heat of the desert to suddenly see a beautiful mirage of a glistening freshwater oasis in the distance. As you arrive you realise it’s no mirage and that the pool is fringed with palm trees and a few small guesthouses, with women selling homemade ice cream and fresh ceviche. Now imagine 15 years later when the same oasis is less appealing to swim in and there is a boulevard surrounding the pool, dotted with a dozen hostels and restaurants and gringos paying over-the-odds for llama key rings. That’s the Huacachina of today!
Despite not maintaining the near-undiscovered aura it must have once had, Huacachina is still a brilliant little place for a few nights’ break, where visitors can walk or take beach buggies through the sand dunes, whizz down them on makeshift sand boards, or have a beer by the hostel pool or whilst sunbathing on the the natural oasis beach.
With Ashleigh still carrying the bug that kept her up all night in Paracas, the most important thing was getting a room with an en-suite bathroom and so on the first night we stayed at El Boulevard. A simple room with a good location on the oasis. We spent the afternoon sleeping and recovering from the terrible night’s sleep we’d suffered.
The next day we moved to Desert Nights Eco Camp, which had only been open 3 days!
We stayed in big white tents with double beds and there was a really good pool with a swim-up bar. The toilets were immaculate, being so new.
The prices were really reasonable for the area which isn’t so cheap, costing 100 soles a night (£23) but the prices will no doubt go up once they’ve garnered an online presence via reviews on Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
On the afternoon of day two, we took a beach buggy ride through the sand dunes.
I couldn’t help image what would happen if the buggy went over, with me sat on the outside where I’d be crushed like a bug. It was good fun and more of a roller-coaster ride than a similar experience in jeeps in Dubai.
Here is a video of me being a wimp – turn the sound down from full ‘cos it’s noisy.
The driver pulled up at the top of various sloped dunes for us to all fly down on sand boards. Again, faster than expected, but fun.
Some people stood up like they were snowboarding but Ashleigh said I’d probably break my ankle and we’d already paid the deposit for the Inca Trail.
A few days later we met a German guy whose trip was cut short after he broke his shoulder whilst putting his snowboarding experience into use on the dunes!
The tour ended with the buggies stopping on a dune above the oasis, for sunset photographs.
The third day on Huacachina was spent sitting by the pool, before a sunset walk up the tallest dune, where we took a load of pictures like this:
Restaurants were pricey in Huacachina but we found a decent valued place called La Sirena where we had a decent Lomo Saltado (stir-fried beef or alpaca with onions and tomatoes and a soy sauce and vinegar/pisco gravy, served with rice and chips). They also did a set menu for 15 soles (under £ 4) and had ok beer prices. The nightlife was mellow, with Huaca-Fuckin-China the most popular bar, yet still quiet.
We checked out the next morning but were kindly allowed to spend the day by the pool, before hopping on a 17 hour night bus to Cusco.