Lima To Huacachina Day Trip: Peru’s Desert Oasis

If you are planning to take a day trip from Lima to Huacachina Oasis, then you are in the right place.

I spent three months backpacking Peru, and though I loved Machu Picchu and Cusco, my favorite place in Peru is actually the Huacachina Oasis. With its towering sand dunes, beautiful sunsets, and activities like sandboarding and dune buggy rides, it was impossible not to fall in love.

That is why I’ve decided to write this article on taking a day trip to Huacachina from Lima, so you can experience this magical side of Peru that many travelers skip!

Note: If you are just looking for a guided tour from Lima to Huacachina, check out this one. It is with our favorite tour company and they also stop by Ballestas Islands and Paracas.

Can You Do A Day Trip From Lima To Huacachina?

Huacachina Oasis

Yes, it is possible to do a day trip from Lima to Huacachina, but keep in mind that it’s quite a big distance between the two destinations (307 km!). We only recommend doing this on a guided tour as getting the public bus will take too long.

It’s around 5 hours from Lima to Ica (the gateway city to Huacachina) by public bus and from there a further 15 minutes in a taxi to Huacachina. So, that’s a lot of traveling and effort for just a few hours in Huacachina! 

A guided tour from Lima to Huacachina covers all your transportation issues and more. They include sandboarding as well as a dune buggy ride. Make sure you pick one that includes a visit to Ballestas Island, aka, “Poor Man’s Galapagos.”

Although many tourists opt to make a day trip from Lima to Huacachina, we recommend spending more time in Peru’s only desert oasis by staying a night or two here.

How To Get From Lima to Huacachina

Long distance buses in Peru

It is possible to get from Lima to the Huacachina desert oasis by public bus, but we should remind you that the bus ride will take around 5 hours each way, which is why this option isn’t advisable for those who only want to visit Huacachina on a day trip from Lima. 

There is no direct public bus between the two cities. Instead, you must make your way from Lima to Ica and from the Ica Bus Station (where you get dropped off), catch a small moto taxi (they look like tuk-tuks) to take you the 15-minute journey into Huacachina.

Two bus companies operate the route between Lima and Huacachina – PeruBus and Cruz Del Sur. PeruBus is the most affordable option and offers the most daily departures.

In comparison, Cruz Del Sur offers a luxurious and spacious bus and is regarded as one of the best bus companies in the country. 

For the bus schedules and their departure locations, I recommend checking out busbud here.

Huacachina sandboarding tour
Taking a guided tour of Huacachina is the most convenient way

The easiest (and best way, in our opinion) to get from Lima to Huacachina on a day trip is on a guided tour.

Guided tours take the stress out of getting to this magical natural oasis and typically include a knowledgeable bilingual tour guide, dune buggying and sand boarding in Huacachina and, hotel pick-up and drop-off from most Lima hotels. 

This particular full-day tour is a fantastic option as not only does it include a stop in Huacachina but offers the added bonus of a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands (often referred to as a ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos‘), where you can see sea lions and Humboldt penguins up-close.

It’s fair to say this is one bucket-list-worthy Peru experience that will have you viewing unique wildlife on the Ballestas Islands in the morning and sand boarding and taking a dune buggy ride down the massive Huacachina sand dunes in the afternoon. 

You’ll also have some free time to wander around Huacachina and maybe have lunch in one of the lakefront restaurants. Lunch isn’t included on this tour, so it’s a good idea to refuel here. 

Things To Do On A Huacachina Day Trip 

Experience the thrill of dune buggy rides in Huacachina

Without a doubt, the most popular thing to do in Huacachina is an adrenalin-pumping dune buggy tour.

As soon as you get here, you’ll notice lots of dune buggies zooming through the sand dunes surrounding the town, and these unique vehicles are essentially the town’s taxis, as they are the only way to safely navigate the unusual terrain here. 

A dune buggy tour in Huacachina is truly bucket-list-worthy because it involves being driven up and down the biggest sand dunes in South America in a high-powered vehicle. It’s akin to a unique roller coaster ride as your driver speeds up and down the super-steep sand dunes. 

As you can guess, as the most popular activity in this natural desert oasis, there are heaps of tour operators here that offer dune buggy tours. Most of them are half-day tours and include sandboarding (more on that below!).

Depending on your budget, you can opt for a private or group tour! You can book these tours online in advance, from one of the street salesmen in Huacachina, or from your hotel if you choose to stay the night here. 

Or if you have opted for a guided tour, like the one described earlier in this blog post, as your way of getting from Lima to Huacachina, then a dune buggy tour will be included in your package. 

Huacachina is perfect for sandboarding because of its steep dunes

The second most popular of the Huacachina tours is sandboarding; as we said earlier, Huacachina is home to the steepest sand dunes in South America, and many of the Huacachina dunes rise over a hundred feet tall! So, as you can imagine, sand and boarding down them at speed is so much fun!

There are two ways to sandboard in Huacachina – on your belly or the much harder-to-do sandboarding while standing up.

If you want to try out the former (on your belly), then simply rent a sandboard from one of the rental companies in town and head out to one or several of the huge dunes surrounding the town. If you’re not sure which way to head, just ask a local or in the rental store. 

If you’re keen to try Huacachina sandboarding standing up (like snowboarding, but on the sand, of course), then it’s best to book a specific sandboarding tour.

That way, your experienced guide can show you how to successfully navigate the steep terrain and can guide you on what equipment to use (you can opt for a sandboard, snowboard, or snow skis for sand skiing). 

If you opt to get to Huacachina on a guided tour from Lima, sandboarding on your stomach is included as part of the tour. Most tours from Lima allow for about an hour of sandboarding.

If you are really into sandboarding (like we are), then we recommend doing it independently, as you will have longer on the dunes. If time is on your side, we say 2 to 3 hours of sandboarding is plenty of time. 

Huacachina-Sand-Skiing featured
Huacachina has great spots to view the sunset

We don’t know about you, but we love finding unique spots to catch the sunset when traveling. And what could be more unique than watching the sun sink behind some of the tallest sand dunes in the world?

You can witness this magical sunset experience in several spots, but the most popular spot is about a 20-minute walk from town. To get to Huacachina’s famous sunset spot – walk in the direction of where the dune buggies are parked (you won’t miss them) and then turn right to walk up the sand dune.

You’ll pass a large water tank, and it won’t be long before you’re at the top of the dune. We will say that there will likely be lots of other people walking to the same spot, so if in doubt – follow the crowds. 

The view is truly wow-worthy at sunset. You’ll see the Huacachina oasis below you, backed by the sand dunes, which are now bathed in shades of orange and pink. 

The oasis in Huacachina is great just for relaxing

The small town of Huacachina (would you believe it’s home to only 100 permanent residents!) is built around a man-made lagoon known locally as “the Oasis.” The history of the lagoon is fascinating as, in the past, it was believed to have medicinal waters.

You can’t swim in the lagoon, although you probably wouldn’t want to anyway, as the water is quite dirty. Instead, you can rent a paddleboat and paddle across the lagoon. We say 30 minutes to an hour is plenty of time for this. 

The Huacachina Oasis is surrounded by palm trees, a boardwalk, and several bars and restaurants, which makes it the perfect spot to relax after a long morning of traveling and dune bashing.

If you have an hour or so, take a short stroll along the boardwalk, then hire a paddleboat for 30 minutes and end your time here with a drink or lunch at one of the scenic restaurants. 

Take a dune buggy tour to see the great views of the desert

Another fantastic option for the adrenalin junkies reading is to hire a private dune buggy to take you deep into the desert to get a sense of this otherworldly landscape.

Unfortunately, for safety reasons, you can’t drive these high-powered buggies yourself; instead, a professional driver will need to drive you.

Would you believe a dune buggy can reach speeds of up to 60-70 mph? So, it’s probably for the best that tourists can’t drive them – plus the desert terrain is notoriously difficult to maneuver.

The desert surrounding Huacachina is around 335,000 hectares (FYI, it’s one of the largest deserts in South America!) which means there’s plenty of terrain to explore and you’ll unlikely come across any other buggies.

Insurance For Huacachina Day Trip From Lima


If you are like me and are super prone to injury (yup…), then you might want to consider getting travel insurance for your day trip to Huacachina. Since you’ll most likely be sandboarding and dune bashing on a buggy, there are inherent risks with those activities.

SafetyWing is one of my favorite long-term travel insurance, thanks to its emergency medical insurance. They primarily focus on digital nomads and backpackers, perfect if you plan on seeing all of Peru (which took me 2+ months!) – doing all the hikes in Peru, Machu Picchu, and more!


Huacachina Day Trip FAQs

Is One Day Enough In Huacachina?

One full day would be enough to experience all of the things to do in Huacachina, such as sandboarding and going on a dune buggy ride. However, you might not have enough time to fully experience it if you only spend half a day or a few hours there.

Is Huacachina Worth Visiting?

Huacahina is most definitely worth visiting. It is one of the most unique desert oases in the world and offers stunning landscapes as well as exciting activities such as sandboarding and riding dune buggies.

Is it Worth Staying in Huacachina?

If your Peru itinerary allows it, we recommend staying overnight in Huacachina. This will let you experience the place with fewer tourists, as well as catch a beautiful sunrise in the morning if you wish.

Is Huacachina a Real Oasis?

Huacachina is a natural oasis. The small village today was built around this small lagoon and is surrounded by beautiful sand dunes.

Final Thought: Lima to Huacachina Oasis Day Trip

Huacachina Oasis is one of the most stunning places in Peru, and if you have the time, we highly recommend you to visit. If you can only afford a day trip from Lima, then it is in your best interest to get a guided tour.

If you have a few more days in Peru, then we recommend at least spending a night in Huacachina. There are a few more things to do in the region, such as Ica, Paracas, and Nazca Lines that’ll keep you more than entertained.

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links. That means if you book or make a purchase through the links, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! The money will help run this site! Thank you!