Huacachina had never really been on my Peru radar, but it is one of the many stops on the Peru Hop itinerary, so I decided to give it a go.
The only oasis in Latin America, the sand-surrounded and lake-centered city is best known for its dune adventure activities. Namely, sand boarding and dune buggying.
You can rent a board in town (or bring your own) and try a DIY attempt at sand boarding, but you’re going to have to walk up the hot, steep dunes yourself. Remember how difficult it is to walk through sand? Now imagine that on a near-vertical incline. Ugh, I’m sweating and tired just thinking about it.
much easier to reach this vantage point via dune buggy than a hike, trust me
Now, I’m all for saving money when it’s sensible, but in this case I decided to go for the ease (and the fun) of a trip combining both dune buggying and sand boarding, especially considering it’s less than $20USD.
I went for the same popular packaged tour that most other Peru Hoppers opt for through FindLocalTrips, with departures at 10am or 4pm. If you’re a Peru Hopper: You can book it through a Peru Hop guide on the bus. If you’re not on Peru Hop (or you just like to have everything arranged in advance, like me): you can also book online. Either way it costs just $15USD.
The dune buggy ride is an adventure in itself, especially if you get a guide like mine. Almost everyone in my buggy was screaming at some point (yes, the men included), because it literally felt like being on a rollercoaster without a track. The drops were steep, the turns were sharp, and I felt what seemed like my stomach turning over more times than once.
I didn’t puke, but I did hysterically scream (…and maybe swear) more than a few times.
It feels very unsafe (and the UK travel authority warns against the activity), but I tried not to question it. While it felt like the dune buggy could tip over, or flip end over end, in actuality it didn’t come close to happening, at least in my experience. As always, use your own judgment and ask the driver to slow down if you’re feeling unsafe.
The scary but exhilarating dune buggy ride sandwiched another incredible adventure experience: sandboarding.
skills above my pay grade — I went down on my belly
Now, I’m not a big board sports girl (I’d rather watch, photography, and hand out snacks and drinks) so I was pretty anxious before this activity, worrying about both hurting myself but maybe even more so about looking like a fool. Yes, I care too much about what others think. I’m trying to work on it.
Thank my lucky stars, at each of the three sand boarding dunes (which we repeated for a total of 6 sand board rides) there were several options ranging from beginner (aka even Steph is able) to advanced.
Each time, I opted for the beginner option: laying on my belly and pushing myself off the crest of the hill, a bit like a turtle pushing through sand. If you’re a board sports genius, you can also choose to stand up, like snowboarding or wakeboarding.
Top Tips for Sandboarding and Dune Buggying in Huacachina
Make sure to get in a group with the same daredevil level mentality (or lack thereof) as you.
While my group was gung-ho about crazy driving, I had a friend who wasn’t so lucky. She was in an all-girls group, and every time the driver would speed up a little, the girls would cry and shout and complain, so they ended up crawling along at a sand snail’s piece. My friend said it was too lame and tame for her taste, and that she was incredibly disappointed especially after seeing the other buggies and all the high-adrenaline fun they were having.
Don’t be scared about sandboarding
Literally, anyone could do it. There’s no real skill or fitness level required. If you want to do all the dunes offered, you will have to climb a little. If that’s out of your realm of ability, though, you can always just board down the first dune and stop there, no problem.
Choose your departure time wisely
I went with the 4pm trip and I think it was perfect. By the end of the adventure, it was even starting to get cold.
I think the earlier departure (10am) would be too hot for me, as it’ll run into noontime and the heat of the day. There’s no shade out there, nothing but sand to bake on!
Be aware of the dust
If you have asthma affected by dust or sensitive membranes (ears, nose, eyes, mouth, throat, etc) in general, you may want to reconsider or take proper precautions (maybe even a mouth or other type of mask). With all the sand flying around (and associated dirt, dust, and who knows what else), it can be a bit uncomfortable, and maybe even dangerous for someone with a preexisting condition.
Pin it for Later: Adventures in Huacachina, Peru