Looking for the best things to do in Huacachina Peru? You are in the right place.
Huacachina is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru, thanks to its beautiful natural desert oasis and gorgeous surrounding sand dunes. Its unique location offers travelers some of the most unique activities, such as sandboarding and riding a dune buggy.
But there is so much more to Huacachina. And after spending a week there ourselves, we knew we had to write an article on some of the best Huacachina attractions. Let’s get to it!
Things To Do In Huacachina
1. Taking A Dune Buggy
Hands down, one of the most popular things to do in Huacachina, Peru, is a dune buggy tour because not only is this high-speed tour sure to get your adrenalin pumping, but a Huacachina dune buggy tour also promises stunning views of the Huacachina sand dunes and the Huacachina oasis (the only desert oasis in Peru, FYI).
On a visit here, you’ll see heaps of dune buggies zipping through the surrounding sand dunes. The dune buggy rides are essentially Huacachina’s taxis, as they are also the only way to navigate the vast desert!
There are a few different types of dune buggy tours to choose from in this desert oasis – most include sandboarding (more on that fun activity below), and you can pick a private tour or a group tour. You can book these tours through your accommodation, from one of the street salesmen in town, or online.
Huacachina, Peru is home to the biggest sand dunes in South America (would you believe they’re as tall as 100 ft or 30 m in parts), so as you can guess, sandboarding down these steep dunes is a super-popular pastime and so much fun!
If you’re keen to try this unique sport, you can rent the equipment from one of the travel agencies in town or book a guided sandboarding tour. Which one you pick will depend on the type of traveler you are.
If you’re an adventure nut, definitely rent the equipment yourself. You can choose from a sandboard, snowboard, or snow skis. We opted for the snowboards!
By doing it yourself, you can choose how long you spend on the huge dunes (the equipment is rented by the hour) – we recommend renting your equipment for 3-4 hours. Rent for longer than you think necessary, as climbing up to the top of the dunes is more time-consuming than you’d imagine, as the sand is very soft.
In comparison, the sandboarding tours tend to only allow for 1-2 hours of sandboarding in Huacachina, and most only allow you to lay on your stomach when going down.
You can choose from two types of tours in Huacachina – those that focus solely on sandboarding and those that combine sandboarding and a dune buggy ride.
3. Visit Ballestas Islands
Commonly known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”, Ballestas Islands is one of the main attractions near Huacachina because you can see most of the same animals on the Galapagos Islands there for a fraction of the cost!
Simply put, the Ballestas Islands are one of the best places to see unique wildlife like Humboldt penguins and sea lions in Peru. And the best thing is that this wildlife haven is easily reachable from Huacachina. Paracas (where tours to the islands leave from) is just an hour’s drive from Huacachina.
The only way to visit the Ballestas Islands from Huacachina is on a guided tour. In fact, it’s one of the most popular day trips from Huacachina! The tours for the Ballestas Islands only take two hours, but most guided tours include a visit to the Paracas National Reserve.
In our opinion, this is an incredible offer, as visiting the National Reserve independently is quite difficult.
When visiting the Ballestas Islands, it is important to keep in mind that because the island is a protected environment, you cannot step foot on the island. Instead, you can only watch the animals from your boat.
4. Fly Over Nazca Lines
Visiting the Nazca Lines is one of the most unique activities in Huacachina. If you’re unfamiliar with the mysterious Nazca Lines, they are a series of lines etched into the desert in Southern Peru, said to be over 2,000 years old!
They cover an area of almost 1,000 sq. km, and in total, there are 10,000 lines (some of which are a whopping 9 km long) and over 300 different figures – mostly animals and plants.
The Nazca Lines have baffled historians for years, and nobody really knows how they got there, although the most common theory is that they were used as a form of communication!
Because of the size of the lines and the figures, they are best seen from a plane or from the 43-foot/13-meter observation tower here.
To visit the Nazca Lines from Huacachina, you can either drive to the lines yourself (2.5 hours away) and climb up a 13-meter-high observation tower.
Or, for a truly bucket-list-worthy experience, book a 30-minute scenic flight of the lines from the nearby town of Nazca.
If you don’t have a rental car, the best way to reach Nazca is by arranging a transfer from Huacachina ahead of time. You can also take a taxi, but that might end up costing you more. You can also book a guided tour online that includes pickup!
5. Check Out Paracas National Reserve
About eighty kilometers from Huacachina is the breathtaking Paracas National Reserve, a protected area that incorporates ocean and desert and is home to various fascinating wildlife species like dusky dolphins, sea lions and flamingos.
And if you love off-the-beaten-path places (like us), this natural wonder is a must-visit, as not many tourists know about it.
Spend a full day here checking out the reserve’s gorgeous sandy beaches like Playa Rojo or La Mina, and check out Museo de Sitio Julio C. Tello, which houses artifacts from the ancient Paracas culture.
The Paracas Candelabra geoglyph, a smaller version of the famed Nazca Lines, is the main attraction in this reserve. The Paracas Candelabra is situated on a hillside on the Paracas Peninsula.
💪 Pro Tip: If you are not taking a tour to Paracas National Reserve or hiring a taxi, one excellent way to explore Paracas National Reserve is by renting a bicycle and cycling through it.
6. Enjoy The Nightlife
You may be surprised to learn that Huacachina is a vibrant year-round party destination! Yep, this tiny town and desert oasis is home to one of the best party hostels in South America – the Wild Rover Hostel, which can get pretty erm, wild!
This hostel is well-known for its crazy nightly parties that start at 9 PM (conveniently the same time as their happy hour begins!) The party continues into the early hours, and the music is great; you’re also likely to meet lots of other like-minded travelers here!
If you’re not a night owl, then the Wild Rover Huacachina, also hosts swimming pool parties most afternoons of the week.
Other fun party hostels in Huacachina include Banana’s Adventure and El Huacachinero. As for bars, we love The Pub – their Pisco Sours (the national drink of Peru) are awesome! There’s also a lovely relaxed bar at the Desert Nights Hostel in nearby Ica if you’re staying over that way.
7. Check Out The Nearby Vineyards
Another thing we were surprised by when visiting Huacachina is the fun fact that some of the best wineries in Peru are located a short drive away, outside the town of Ica. One of the most famous is Tacama, aka Peru’s first winery.
Not only is their wine great, but the grounds are simply stunning – think lush gardens and water fountains. You can taste a wide variety of wines (red, white, and sparking) and even Piscos on your visit here. They also have an on-site store where you can purchase some wine to take home!
If you’re short on time, we recommend taxiing from Huacachina directly to Tacama, but if you have more time, a full-day wine and pisco tour from Huacachina is a great choice. On these tours, you’ll get to visit a few different wineries outside Ica and sample lots of wine and Pisco!
8. Rent a Paddle Boat
Down at the Oasis in Huacachina, you can rent paddleboats to explore the small man-made lake. The Oasis is surrounded by palm trees, so it’s quite a pretty place to hire a paddleboat.
The price for this unique boat tour depends on how long you want to be out on the water – but we say 30 minutes to an hour is more than enough time!
9. Hike The Dunes And Catch The Sunset
I don’t know about you, but sunset is our favorite time of day. We always make it a priority to catch the sunset every night when we’re traveling, and we’ll be honest: one of the best sunset viewpoints we’ve been to was right here in Huacachina.
To get to Huacachina’s famous sunset spot is a 20-minute hike from town. To reach it – walk towards where all the dune buggies are parked and then take a right turn to walk up the sand dune. You’ll pass a big water tank along the way, and soon, you will have reached the top. There will likely be heaps of other people walking to the viewpoint for sunset, so you won’t get lost!
When you get there, you’ll probably recognize the view from your Instagram feed – you can see the Oasis with the sand dunes in the background, and it truly is a stop-you-in-your-tracks view!
10. Go Luxury Camping
Next up is one of the most unique, romantic, and bucket-list-worthy things to do in Huacachina. This luxury glamping experience will take you away from the hustle and bustle to a comfortable, spacious tent right on the Huacachina sand dunes.
Imagine yourself stargazing in the desert, where there’s very little light pollution, then retiring to your tent, which features all the comforts of a hotel, such as a bathroom, luxurious bedding, a bedside table, and water. Then, in the morning, wake up early and watch the sunrise over the surrounding dunes with nobody else around.
This luxurious camping experience also includes a tour of Huacachina and a sandboarding tour.
11. Check Out The Canyon of The Lost
And last but not least on our list of the best things to do in Huacachina is the Canyon of the Lost, which sounds like something from an Indiana Jones movie, and we’ll be honest, it wouldn’t look out of place on the set of the famous movie franchise.
The Canyon of the Lost is 3 km long and around 150 meters deep and is a beloved destination for hikers. It is believed to be around 20 to 30 million years old. The Canyon of the Lost is separated into four levels and is home to several stunning natural attractions.
The first level is the mouth of the Ica River, and here you can spy herons. The second level is the most famous, and it’s where you will see the Face of the Puma (an image etched on sand) and the Fish Eye (a water hole). The gorge and the Plaza Caracol make up the remaining two sections.
This lesser-explored gem is a must-add to your Peru itinerary. The Canyon of the Lost is a 2.5-hour drive from Huacachina, and the best way to reach it is on a guided day tour, or if you have a rental car, drive there yourself!
How To Get To Huacachina, Peru
There are many ways to get to Huacachina from other parts of Peru, but the first thing you must do is to get yourself to Ica. Ica is situated about a 15-minute drive from Huacachina, and Ica is where all the buses and public transportation arrive.
From Ica, you’ll have to catch a small mototaxi to Huacachina. Usually, it only costs a few Peruvian soles as the distance is quite short.
There are many ways to get to Ica, and the two most common places to come from are Lima and Paracas. The next nearest popular tourist destination is Arequipa, and that is a 12-hour bus journey away.
For all bus journeys in Peru, I recommend using this company here to check all routes and schedules. You can even purchase the ticket online and pay the same price you would in person!
📚 Read More: What Are The Best Things To Do In Ica, Peru?
Getting from Lima to Huacachina
To get from Lima to Huacachina by bus, you will first need to decide which bus company you’ll want to go with to Ica:
- PeruBus – The standard option, affordable and has many departures
- Cruz Del Sur – Very luxurious, one of the best bus companies in Peru
PeruBus is the one travelers usually take, since the bus journey from Lima to Ica takes only about 5 hours (short for Peru). However, if you want a little extra comfort, then pick Cruz Del Sur.
Once you arrive at Ica Bus Terminal, you’ll find small mototaxis (they look like tuktuks) that’ll take you to Huacachina. It is nearly impossible to miss them because there are so many of them.
The distance between Lima and Huacachina is 307 km or approximately 190 miles.
Getting from Paracas to Huacachina
Getting from Paracas to Huacachina is much quicker than going from Lima to Huacachina. The distance between Paracas and Huacachina is only 74.8 km or about 46.5 mi.
Similarly to going from Lima to Huacachina, you’ll first need to get to Ica, and you can do so with both PeruBus and Cruz Del Sur.
Once you are at Ica Bus Terminal, hop on a mototaxi and make your way to Huacachina.
Where To Stay In Huacachina
If you have a long Peru itinerary, then we highly recommend you to spend at least a night in Huacachina. The desert oasis becomes much quieter in the night when all of the day tourists are gone, and travelers can fully appreciate this natural beauty.
There aren’t that many places to stay in Huacachina, here are the ones we recommend.
Best Hostels In Huacachina – Desert Nights Hostel
If you are looking for budget accommodation in Huacachina, then Desert Nights Hostel could be perfect for you. They have affordable dormitory-style rooms that are cozy and comfortable, and a garden and lounge for just hanging out.
There is also a bar on site, so guests can grab a drink and just admire the views of Huacachina from the comfort of their hostel!
Best Hotel In Huacachina – Banana’s Adventure Hostel
Banana’s Adventure Hostel is one of the best-rated accommodations in Huacachina, and it is not hard to see why. It has a gorgeous outdoor pool and garden with hammocks where guests can relax on a hot day.
The hotel has a fully-stocked bar and restaurant, as well as DJs on occasional days, so guests can have some good fun here. And of course, the rooms here are super nice, with lots of room, natural light, and good decor.
Visiting Huacachina FAQs
Is Huacachina Worth Visiting?
Huacachina, a charming desert oasis in Peru, is often considered a must-visit destination for travelers. It is known as South America’s only natural desert oasis, and offers gorgeous landscapes and unique activities such as sandboarding and dune buggying.
Why is Huacachina Famous?
Huacachina is famous for being the only natural desert oasis in South America. It is home to some of the highest sand dunes in the continent, and offers travelers Peru bucket list experiences such as sandboarding and dune buggy tours.
Can You Do a Day Trip to Huacachina from Lima?
Yes, you can certainly do a day trip to Huacachina from Lima. Many travel agencies and tour operators offer guided tours that allow you to explore the desert oasis of Huacachina in a single day. These day trips typically include transportation from Lima to Huacachina and a variety of activities such as a dune buggy ride and sandboarding.
Is Huacachina Safe?
Huacachina is one of the safest places in Peru. As a small town that relies heavily on tourism with only a handful of residents, there isn’t much crime that happens. However, like any tourist destination, it’s always important to stay vigilant and take precautions.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Huacachina?
The best time to visit Huacachina is between the months of May to November. This is when you’ll find pleasant weather that is dry and not too hot, perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities in Huacachina.
Is Huacachina Oasis Man Made?
The Huacahina Oasis is not man-made. It was created from the leaking of an underground spring. However, the small town around the natural oasis is man-made.
Huacachina is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru, and for good reason. Hopefully, with our article, you’ve learned some of the best attractions of this beautiful desert oasis, as well as all the essential information for an amazing Huacachina trip!
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