If you’re following the Peru Gringo trail then you’ve probably spent a few days dusty & dry and on a variety of buses. Then suddenly, out of the desert appears a compact oasis resort, a dreamy lagoon surrounded by palm trees and 200m high dunes, welcome to Huacachina.
Huacachina has a dozen hostels and hotels surrounding the lagoon, all with slightly elevated prices due to the limited options, we found that virtually all had sold out over New Year and those left had tripled their prices so do check ahead.
We stayed at Carola del Sur, currently a work in progress but offering a duneside pool larger than most in the area, BBQ evenings including all you can drink at the large bar/disco and friendly staff happy to help out. At the time of writing (Jan 2017) work was nearly finished on a new block of rooms more than doubling the size and guaranteeing that this will be the party location of the area.
When I asked a friend for her Peru recommendations her reply was “You have to try the chocolate cake at Banana’s hostel!” Sure enough it is a cake to rival most cakes.
The food & drink menu in general is pretty comprehensive and offers great quality whilst admittedly mostly western food. Having said that, most restaurants in the area are largely geared up for visitors so it’s not exactly the most authentic food location you’re going to visit.
We also tried the pancakes and the Israeli burger which were generous sized and tasty. Banana’s is another good option for staying although twice the price of Carola del Sur but does include a dune buggy trip.
Relax! It’s a good place to chill and remind yourself of some true hostel life. Early beers by the pool while listening to local tunes, chat with the locals and other travellers, take advantage of the happy hour offers that most hotels offer before partying until dawn at some of the disco bars on the side streets.
Sandboarding and Dune Buggies
When you arrive in Huacachina you’ll be bombarded with offers of rides into the dunes on the Mad Max style buggies. Many of these also include the chance to try sandboarding. Shop around a bit and negotiate your price, shouldn’t be more than about 12 dollars, preferably early morning or about 4pm to avoid the midday sun.
Walk to the top of the dunes for sunset
At around 5pm, dozens of people set off up the dunes ready to watch the sunset. Make the journey a bit easier by zig zagging your way up. Make sure to take sunglasses as if it’s remotely windy then you’ll struggle to see with all the sand blowing.
Take a couple of beers (but be sure to take your rubbish with you as the dunes are surprisingly litter covered in some areas) and watch the dune buggies shoot around like little bugs in the distance as well as the skillful sandboarders zoom past easily.
When you’ve had your sunset fix, it’s the much more fun than climbing up descent which takes about 10 seconds!