Huacachina is a paradisiacal oasis in southwestern Peru about 8km from Ica. Besides swimming in the idyllic lagoon, sandboarding and sand buggy riding are popular activities in the vast sandy plain.
The Huacachina Oasis is located in the province of Ica in southwestern Peru and looks like an enchanted place from the Thousand and One Nights. Or a mirage in the Sahara. In any case, the emerald green spot in the midst of glistening sand dunes is one of our top 10 sights in Peru.
A small idyllic pond in the centre of the oasis, the Laguna de Huacachina framed by palm-covered banks, lies in the middle of Peru's largest sand dunes. The mighty hills are up to 100 metres high and contribute to the breathtaking scenery of Huacachina on the one hand and to the decent fun factor of this holiday destination on the other.
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PICTURES: Huacachina Oasis
Legend of the Huacachina Oasis
The name Huacachina means something like "weeping girl". According to legend, an Inca princess once wandered through the desert and kept looking at her beauty in the mirror. Suddenly she noticed a man behind her, next to her reflection, watching her from a distance. In shock, she dropped the mirror, which shattered into a thousand pieces and formed the lagoon.
When she ran away, her flying veil shaped the sand into the dunes that still exist today. The princess is said to live as a mermaid in the lagoon, into the depths of which she lures a man every year so that she is no longer lonely.
Swimming and bathing in the desert
The lagoon is fed by an underground mineral-rich Andean river, which means it can also be used as a spa, especially for rheumatism. However, its water level is in decline, as the surrounding landowners tap the groundwater of the oasis to irrigate their lands. To protect the paradisiacal oasis from drying up and disappearing, water is artificially pumped into the lagoon at regular intervals by decision of the Ica government.
By the way: The likeness of the Huacachina Oasis is depicted on the 50 sol note of the Peruvian national currency.
Fun and action in the sand
Besides a soothing bath in the middle of the desert, the next attraction in Huacachina is the desert itself. All kinds of activities with an enormous fun factor are offered on the metre-high sand dunes.
Desert hikes are still the most normal ideas that many a holidaymaker might have. Since climbing the sand dunes, which can be up to 100 metres high, is quite exhausting on foot, the best way to do it is with a desert buggy. Equipped with tuned engines, roll bars and tractor-like all-terrain tyres, you jet over the dunes until the first passengers feel dizzy and have each swallowed and/or inhaled about a kilogram of sand.
If you prefer to glide over the dunes yourself, you should try sandboarding. Comparable to snowboarding, you make your turns more or less elegantly through the sand on a slanted board.
You just have to be prepared to have the sand pretty much all over your body after such a - rarely fall-free - descent. Because sledding headfirst down the dune at a crazy speed is also great fun that you don't get to experience every day.
Tip: For various activities, both swimwear and sturdy shoes should be in your luggage. Don't forget sunscreen, light clothing is recommended, after all you are in the desert. And speaking of the desert: Due to the relative remoteness, it has already proven useful to have your own roll of toilet paper with you...