Although Peru’s most famous attractions might draw all the attention to them, Huacachina is definitely not a place to be overlooked. For those who didn’t know, this is the only natural oasis of the Americas and holds an impressive natural scenery with adventures for every traveler.
As it is located only a few hours away from the bustling city of Lima, it has become the perfect getaway destination from the capital of Peru, along with the Paracas beach town. Therefore, if you’re looking to experience a unique attraction in South America, this is the way to start!
In case you didn’t know, the Huacachina oasis is located in the region of Ica, only 5 hours away from the so-called City of Kings. Ica not only holds this natural wonder but also some of the oldest and renowned pisco and wine distilleries of the country.
We want you to have a broader view of all the different things you could do during your trip to Peru, which is why we’ve come up with this section to help you put together the best travel itinerary. Continue reading and learn everything about this special place in the Peruvian desert.
About Huacachina & Ica
Besides the natural oasis, Huacachina comprises a small village around the lagoon with a great touristic infrastructure. The region houses about 115 permanent residents and, as we mentioned above, it’s located only 15 minutes away from the city of Ica.
Huacachina wasn’t always the tourist hub it is today since it actually was the Nº 1 getaway destination for the wealthy people of the region and Lima. And though you might think that happened in the colonial era, it actually was during the 1900s.
However, some structures seem to date back to colonial times but they were actually constructed after the 1960s, looking to replicate the Spanish-influenced architecture in the surrounding structures.
Thereby, the Huacachina oasis is surrounded by an authentic architectural style, as well as framed with palm trees and eucalyptus. The site offers the perfect setting to disconnect from the rest of the world and just unwind your mind by the fresh breeze of the desert and its warm weather.
Currently, Huacachina receives thousands of national and foreign tourists per year thanks to its breathtaking landscapes, parties and adventure sports.
Now, when it comes to Ica city, this is the most important region of Peru due to the large-scale production of wine and pisco, where some of the oldest wineries of Latin America still work the land and continue with their traditional distillery process.
You can easily join a tour to the most renowned Pisco vineyards in the area, as well as having an intimate gastronomic experience, where Peruvian dishes, wine and pisco will be the highlight of your trip through the Peruvian desert.
Visiting Huacachina goes beyond anything you could’ve imagined before reading this blog, which is why we recommend spending the night in this remote location in case you’re looking for the perfect break after days of excursions and activities.
The Legend of Huacachina
As you may be aware, we love our folklore stories, specially those ones starring a mystical side to a natural wonder. The Huacachina lagoon doesn’t stand too far from this, and though its legend may sound a bit tragic and unfortunate, here are two of the most popular versions.
The legend goes back to the origins of the lagoon, where an Incan princess was wandering around the desert and at some point she stopped to rest and comb her hair while looking at the mirror. As she was distracted for a moment, she didn’t notice that a hunter was spying on her from a distance.
For a moment, she glanced at his reflection on the mirror as he was approaching her and in a desperate move to get away from him, she dropped the mirror and this one turned into the lagoon as it shattered on the ground.
The Inca princess dove into it and once she felt safe to come out, she realized the lagoon had turned her into a mermaid and the tunic she had left behind became the sand dunes that now surround the oasis.
Another legend has it that the Huacachina lagoon originated from the tears of a grieving woman, who cried her heart out due to an impossible love. This woman entered the lagoon and since then she became a mermaid. Locals say that you can hear her weeping after midnight.
Things to Do in Huacachina
As we mentioned early on this blog, there are many exciting things to do in Huacachina, here we have gathered the most popular and our passenger’s favorite activities:
- Dune Buggy & Sandboarding
Ok, this is by far the most demanded tour in Huacachina, and how not to since you get to explore the desert on a four-wheel buggy as if you were in a roller coaster. This adrenaline-packed adventure will take you through several dunes at high speed to later appreciate the landscape from a special spot.
Some travel operators combine the ride with the sandboarding activity, where you’ll get to slide down through several dunes on a sandboard, here you’ll find out if you’re really up to this! But don’t worry, it is not difficult at all since you can do it by laying flat on the board or – if you’re feeling adventurous – by standing on it like a total pro.
The Dune Buggy & Sandboarding tour is definitely a must if you’re traveling to this region of Peru. The tour takes about 2 hours, and we recommend you take it in the afternoon so you can see the sunset from the desert.
- Visit the Pisco Vineyards in Ica
Ica is the birthplace of Pisco, Peru’s national drink, and it holds a great variety of Pisco wineries, some of them dating back to 1776. Luckily for you, we have the perfect excursion so you can experience 3 of the most important pisco and wine vineyards of the region.
The Ruta del Pisco will take you to El Catador, Vista Alegre and Tacama wineries, where you’ll get to learn about the modern and traditional production of wine and pisco in Peru. If you wish to learn more about our gastronomic experience, we highly recommend taking this tour in case you’re visiting this region.
- Discover the Nazca lines
The Nazca lines are a group of over 1,100 geoglyphs located in the Nazca Pampas created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. These figures were in use even after the Nazca civilization. The purpose of these carvings is unknown, but many archeologists point at them as a ritual center and astronomical calendar.
Some of the Nazca Lines extend to over 350 meters, as others are as large as 5 meters long. Among the most recognized are the killer whale, the monkey, the astronaut, the hummingbird, the condor, and the spider.
If you wish to see these incredible geoglyphs, the best way to do so is by taking a flight. However, there’s an alternative where you can see three of them on a viewing tower located at the Panamericana Sur highway though the chances to see them rely on the weather and sunlight.
How to Get to Huacachina
Huacachina is located 5 hours away south of Lima and the only way to get there is by car. However, if you’re planning to do this on your own, keep in mind that buses only run until Inca, from there you will need to take a taxi or public transport to the entrance of Huacachina.
Yes we know, that sounds like a hassle, especially if your Spanish is limited. But, here we are to take that stress away! If you’re planning a trip to our country, we have the perfect itinerary to southern Peru where you’ll get to visit Huacachina and Paracas in just one day.
Afterwards, you can decide to continue your trip down through Peru or take a flight to your next location from Lima. Here at Viagens Machu Picchu, we want you to travel in total comfort so our local experts have the best options for you!
If you’d like to know Peru at its fullest, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us now and request a personalized itinerary or check our travel packages while you’re here.