Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sand boarding in Huacachina

Beaches and glaciated mountains, what else does Peru have to offer? How about giant sand dunes in the desert? Huacachina, near Ica, was a natural oasis in the middle of the sandy desert which offered riding dune buggies and sand boarding!

Because we learnt our lesson by paying more for an overnight cama (sleeper) bus with Etti, we took a basic coach bus with Movil Tours (S/45, 8h) from Huaraz to Lima and funnily enough, we had a better nights sleep for paying nearly half price.

We had no desire to see Lima, so when we arrived in the Movil bus terminal at 4.15am we got in a cab to Suruz bus terminal (S/5) to go to Ica. Peru didn't seem to have just one bus terminal; it had multiple stations for individual companies, which makes changing buses more difficult.

The Suruz 4.40am bus cost S/35 for 5h which we just slept through. At the Ica bus station we took a cab to the tiny town of Huacachina which was only 5km away (S/7, but it should have only been S/5).  During our ride we saw just how unique this place was, with towering sand dunes reaching over 200m!!

We stayed in Bananas Hostel (I know, great name huh) which had a laid back, Caribbean theme with a pool to sunbathe by, a nice bar and restaurant plus many hammocks and sofas to relax on.  

The pool in Bananas hostel

Our dune buggies
The hostel offered many tours but the most popular was the sand buggies and sand boarding tour for sunset (S/30 if you stay at the hostel). An it was incredible! We left at 4pm and had a short bumpy, yet really fun, ride over the sand dunes to our first of three sand boarding spots.

 The "beginner" slope was about 10m to get a feel for it. At first I was weary about falling on my face but we lay on our front and it was easy to slow down (not that I wanted to!). First we waxed our board, pretty much a snow board, and then chose to snow board down or lie on our front. Well I can tell you, standing up involved a lot more falls and sand getting EVERYWHERE, where as lying on your front was just fun and fast!

Practising on the "nursary" slope
One of the biggest dunes we boarded down
We did a series of 3 slopes at each stop. Each stop presented us with higher and more challenging slopes until we got to the last stop at sun set and, well, they were huge! Harry and I faced the first of the 3 slopes (I won!), the second wasn't too bad but my god the most one was about 100m high! 

The long walk back from the final slope (over 100m high!)

About half way down the slope I picked up so much speed it was hard to see and then I ran over some rocks (that hurt!) until finally I reached the bottom, a bit sore and drenched in sand! Amazing! 

We rode the buggy back to the hostel and it was a rush for the showers! That night there was a BBQ at Bananas where we drunk cocktails and ate lots of food. Great day!

The next day was more chilled. After being kept away all night by two Mosquitos that snuck into our dorm, we wanted some time to just wander around. Huacachina is so small, you can see it in 15mins but the dunes are endless! 

We walk up the largest dune next to the lagoon to get a great view of the town and the desert. The landscape was so vast and homogenous. It was another unique and awe inspiring scenery of Peru.

The tiny town of Huacachina

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