The Huacachina oasis is a favorite day trip destination for tourists that are looking for sand sports and loud nights! A small town built specifically for tourists, Huacachina is safe, unique, and the perfect stop during a Peru hop. Huacachina is just a place, not a village or city. Below, we'll tell you everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to Huacachina!
Best Time To Visit Huacachina
Huacachina has hot days and cold nights typical of an arid desert climate. It doesn't receive much rain throughout the year, and sandstorms aren't infrequent. For sand-based adventure sports, the desert weather is perfect for them year-round. Really, it comes down to your preference in temperatures!
The hottest times to visit are between January and March. Daytime highs are in the low 80 degrees Fahrenheit - which might not sound super hot, but with the lack of wind and shade on the one hand and the glare from the sand on the other, it feels much hotter! Nights dip down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. These hot desert months are the busiest months.
July and August are the coldest months. Then, the daytime high is 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights get into the 50s. Depending on your preference, this might be the perfect time to visit! The days are pleasant for exploring the desert! Just bring a jacket for those chilly desert nights.
Visiting Huacachina is typically more about things to do rather than places to go, but there are a few locations you should go check out!
A tour of the Pisco vineyards is a fascinating way to break up a day of buggying and boarding. Pisco is a type of brandy produced only in Peru and Chile, and tourists will get the chance to learn more about how it's made. A vineyard tour is particularly enjoyable during the grape harvest season, between March and April.
Huacachina itself is small, but it's perfectly situated for fun day trips by local taxi! One of these is the nearby city of Ica. The Ica region boasts the Tacama winery, as well as a regional museum where you can see a collection of mummies and indigenous artifacts.
Another great day trip location is the Ballestas Islands. These islands are part of the Paracas National Reserve, and it is somewhat like a Peruvian version of the Galapagos. You will see hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of sea lions and penguins.
A short drive from Huacachina, the Nazca Lines are a historical must-see. They are a group of geoglyphs made in the soil of the desert, dating back to 500 BC. These glyphs make out ancient pictures of plants and animals. In Ica, you can book a lying tour over these lines and really appreciate them with a bird's eye view!
Things To Do
The oasis of Huacachina is an adventure-seeker's paradise!
Sandboarding is a popular activity for thrill seekers that you won't have many opportunities to do elsewhere! Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding. Feel free to bring your own board or rent one. However, the sand dunes are very high around the oasis, so you might want to sign up for sandboarding tours. You'll have a guide to help you out, and they'll likely ask that you sit or lay down in order to head down the dunes rather than stand.
Dune Buggy Rides
If you want to experience the sand dunes but sandboarding is just a bit too much to handle, book one of the dune buggy tours! It's a great way to tour the huge dunes around the oasis and offers stunning views. Because of the sheer size of the sand dunes, riding dune buggies feels very similar to riding a roller coaster! Most of the dune buggy tours offer a chance to sandboard as part of the tour.
Since you're visiting the only South American oasis, you might as well go swimming in that oasis, right? This beautiful Huacachina lagoon has a scenery unmatched elsewhere - clear blue waters surrounded by tall sand dunes. It's very calm, with absolutely no waves.
There's more than one way to enjoy the lagoon! You can rent row and paddle boats from various establishments around the edge of the oasis, which is a great activity for groups with children.
Enjoy The Nightlife
Huacachina is a small town centered around youthful tourism. So the nightlife is hopping! Many bars, hostels, and nightclubs, all within a few blocks, have great music and drinks every night.
Hike The Dunes
Many visitors to Huacachina make a point to hike the large dunes surrounding the city. One of the most popular trips is to the dune south of the Huacachina oasis. It's super tall and offers incredible views of the sun setting! It will take some time to get to the top, so plan ahead. The dune on the north side offers the best sunrise shots.
There are many delicious places to eat in Huacachina ! Even the backpacker hostel has a restaurant inside with an excellent breakfast. Not only is the food amazing, but the accompanying views of the dunes and lagoon are beautiful. The Gypsey Restaurant is one of the most popular eating establishments in Huacachina, and the Aqua Bar is a great choice for an afternoon beverage break.
Where To Stay In Huacachina
Huacachina has many places to stay overnight. There are a wide selection of backpacker hostels and a couple of well-ranked hotels. Staying in a hostel is typically cheaper, but many of the hostels have a party vibe - which might be exactly what you're going for! Some of the hostels and hotels have their own pool on site.
Where Is The Huacachina Oasis Located
Huacachina is the only natural desert oasis in all of South America. Found in the heart of Peru, the Huacachina is just shy of 250 miles from the capital, Lima - about a 4-hour drive, and it's only 3 miles from Ica.
The small lake is surrounded, and there is a fascinating legend about the creation of this lake. The local myth is that a beautiful native princess conjured it but then had to leave Huacachina in a hurry, and her haste whipped up the dunes, and she supposedly currently lives in the lake as a mermaid.
How To Get To Huacachina Oasis
Getting to Huacachina is a straightforward affair once you've flown into the international airports at Lima or Cusco. From there, you'll take a public bus to Ica. There are many various bus companies offering routes from these large cities to Ica multiple times a day. The ride will take about 5 hours and costs about $10.
Once you've made it to Ica, you have different options to cover the 3 miles to the oasis town of Huacachina. Taxis typically wait in the bus terminal to take you the rest of the way, and some people prefer calling an Uber. Depending on where you're staying in Huacachina, your hotel may offer a shuttle service between Ica and Huacachina.
Transportation Within Huacachina
Huacachina is a small town - a very small town. It has one street that circles around the lagoon. You probably won't be able to get lost, even if you wanted to! You'll see some cars there, but they're mostly used for trips between Huacachina and Ica. Travel within Huacachina itself is done almost entirely by walking or bicycle. Don't worry - everywhere you want to go is within a five-minute walk.
Get Travel Insurance
If sandboarding is high on your list, be sure you have a good travel insurance plan in case something goes wrong. It's a fun activity, but it's not the safest!
Get Ready To Get Sandy
You're going to get sandy! Even if you don't go crazy with sand sports yourself, the wind carries sand everywhere. While sandboarding or riding dune buggies around Huacachina, make sure you bring something to cover your mouth and nose. Boarding goggles aren't a bad idea, or at least wear sunglasses.
Exchange Your Money Ahead Of Time
Huacachina is a small town and doesn't offer as many services as some other tourist locations. Perhaps most notably, it doesn't have any place where you can exchange your United States dollars for the local currency of Peruvian nuevo sol. Be sure to exchange currencies in Ica before you go.
Go At Sunset
Book your buggy tour of Huacachina at the last time slot available - typically around 4:00 pm. Not only will the temperature be more comfortable, but the sunset views atop the dunes will be incredible.
Bring Water And Snack
Bring plenty of water and snacks. You'll be amazed how thirsty you'll get out in the desert, even if you don't physically feel hot!
Dress For The Weather
Dress for the sun. This means lightweight, breathable clothes - and a hat - and sunscreen. You'll be surprised at how loose-fitting, airy clothes will actually feel much cooler than typical hot-weather sportswear!
Bring Some Cash
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most of the businesses and hotels of Huacachina, but not all. It's best to bring cash.