Visiting the Huacachina is discovering a hidden oasis among the dunes of the Ica desert where people come mainly to do the sandboarding and tubular tour, and the party!
It is a destination that you can easily include in your Peru itinerary since it is located south of Lima, on the road to Nazca and Arequipa, near Paracas.
I present to you my definitive guide to La Huacachina where I have put together practical information for sandboarding and dune buggying, and all the other activities to do in the area.
I also explain how to get to La Huacachina on your own or with an agency, presenting you the best tours, and my hotel recommendations for all budgets.
So, what to see and do in La Huacachina?
A few minutes from the center of the city of Ica, the Huacachina is an oasis in the desert, whose heart is in a pond that for years was very popular for the medicinal properties of its waters. Currently, it is surrounded by restaurants with a tasty gastronomic offer and bars that are very lively, especially at night. You can also take a nice walk to walk around it and even navigate it with pedal boats.
At night, the recommendation is to enjoy the starry sky from the water's edge, or on top of the dunes that surround it.
The word "Huacachina" in Quechua means "woman who cries". Legend has it that a beautiful green-eyed woman was saddened by the death of her beloved in Inca times, and with her tears this magnificent greenish lagoon was formed in the middle of the desert in the Peruvian department of Ica. For years it was believed to have healing powers, and was a place of pilgrimage for people wishing to improve their health. On the boulevard that surrounds the lagoon there is a sculpture of a mermaid that reminds her.
The Huacachina is also called "Oasis of the Americas", because it is the largest of its kind of natural origin that can be found in the American continent.
The stories tell about the origin of this oasis that a beautiful Inca princess known as Huacca China spent her days in this quiet place. This woman had the gift of making anyone who crossed her path fall in love with the special sound of her beautiful voice.
On one occasion, when the princess was walking, a man observed her and was dazzled by her beauty, in such a way that he decided to approach her. The princess decided to run away from him. Along the way, the lady's suit began to tear in the undergrowth until she finally fell off and became a sheet of sand. She also dropped the mirror that she always carried with her and, when it broke, she was transformed into a lagoon where she submerged and became a mermaid.
Another legend tells that this lagoon was born from the tears of the same princess who wept for the death of her beloved. From this story originates the name Huacachina, which means "weeping woman" in Quechua.
To get to Huacachina by bus, you would need to take a bus from Lima to Ica. Once in Ica, he would have to find a local taxi and then go to the oasis of Huacachina. To get out of Huacachina, he would have to do the same. The Lonely Planet states that this is the only way to get to Huacachina.
This small town is home to less than 1,000 local people, but every day a new influx of backpackers arrives to do one of the must-do activities in Peru…Slide down the famous dunes of Huacachina! Local guides take backpackers on a tour of these dunes in incredibly powerful (and safe!) dune gliders, flying over large humps in what seems like endless desert. This in itself is impressive, but it gets even better when tourists have the option of sliding down some of these huge dunes! This can be exciting as well as spooky and will often end with a sandy face, but it's nothing a quick shower can't fix! Snowboarding is world famous, but sandboarding is harder, faster and much cheaper… an absolute must do for anyone visiting Huacachina.
In addition to Huacachina, Ica is also famous for its Pisco and its vineyards. Pisco is the national drink of Peru, and Ica is often called the home of Pisco. We take you on a tour of the Pisco vineyards where you will discover the history of Pisco, see how it is made, as well as try some samples of this delicious refreshing drink. Peruvians are very proud of their Pisco and you simply cannot come to Ica and not have a few glasses of Pisco!
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.