Huacachina in Peru is a place like no other.
It’s an incredible oasis with a tiny village, home to only a handful of residents, sitting in the heart of a desert, surrounded by golden sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
But this is more than just a picturesque mirage.
It’s the perfect place for tranquillity, as well as a hub for adventure.
You’ll find that most people are heading here to strap on their sandboards and plummet down the sides of the dunes during the day before dancing the night away once dawn hits.
Equally, if stargazing among paradise is more up your street, there is plenty of space to escape the vibrant nightlife.
I’ve visited Huacachina a number of times since living in Peru and so I’m certain that you’ll find everything you need to know in this guide.
First, we’ll cover the need-to-know basics like where it is and how to get there.
We’ll then jump into all of the best things to do and places to eat and drink.
To finish, we’ll cover the best time to visit as well as all of the frequently asked questions.
Where is Huacachina in Peru
Huacachina is located in the southwestern part of Peru, about 5 kilometres (3 miles) west of the city of Ica.
It is situated in the Ica Desert, which is part of the larger coastal desert region known as the Atacama Desert.
Despite its proximity to Ica, Huacachina feels like a secluded haven, providing a stark contrast to the arid desert surroundings.
Below is an interactive map so that you can see the exact location.
How to get to Huacachina
Lima to Huacachina
One of the most common paths to take is from Lima to Huacachina.
In fact, it’s the path I usually take too, since I’m living in the Miraflores neighbourhood in Lima.
There are three options to choose from when it comes to getting from A to B and these are:
Take the bus
Taking the bus is straightforward and takes anywhere between 4 and 5 hours depending on which bus company you choose to book through.
Either way, you can use Busbud to see a consolidated timetable and price list.
I’ve travelled with Cruz del Sur and Peru Bus and the latter is cheaper and slightly less luxurious, but the journey is relatively short in comparison to some of the other bus journeys across South America.
If you’re staying in Miraflores or Barranco, then the bus station is likely to be Javiar Prado or Avenida Mexico and the best way to reach these is with an Uber since they’re situated on a busy highway.
It’s also worth noting that you need to be at the bus station at least 20 to 30 minutes in advance.
If you’ve got the money to do so you can take a taxi or hire a car to get to from A to B.
Once you’re out of Lima – which is notorious for its chaotic traffic – the roads are very straightforward and easy to drive on.
Plus, if a group of you travels together, it’s usually a cost-effective way to get around that offers some great flexibility.
You can check out the best rentals deals here: Rentalcars.com
This is always my go-to platform, as just like Busbud, they consolidate all the best companies on the market to show you the best deals.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to book in advance to avoid high on-the-spot pricing – particularly if you’re looking to collect a car from the airport.
Book a tour
If you prefer to leave everything to the hands of a trusted tour operator who you can count on delivering an epic experience, then of course this is an option.
I’ve taken this option myself and it makes things easy – you usually just have to show up at the entrance of your hostel or hotel and they take care of you from there.
Below are some of the best-rated tours which you can take from Lima and most will also include a visit to at least one of the nearby towns.
Things to do in Huacachina in Peru
Some of the dunes surrounding Huacachina reach heights of up to 200 meters (656 feet), making sandboarding one of the most popular activities to do here.
However, there are some things to know before you give this exhilarating sport a go.
Type of board
There are heaps of rental shops around the oasis and you won’t be short of locals trying to sell you the experience as you walk around.
However, there are two board options to consider.
- Basic boards: if this is your first time trying to sandboard or you class yourself as a beginner, then this is likely to be the option you’ll want to choose. The board has loose-fitting loops to slot your feet into and the board is relatively small. Although you can stand up on these boards, most people lay on the board and go down head first.
- Advanced boards: these are essentially snowboards and so they are large with secure lock-in straps that you’ll need boots for. If you know how to snowboard or think you’ll be good at it, then this is a better option for you – albeit a little more expensive.
Where to rent
You’ll find most tour providers who are approaching you in the street are offering the basic boards and these can often be very competitive in price.
However, if you’re looking to rent advanced equipment, then Dito Sand Xsports or Sandboarding Peru are two of the best shops.
How long to rent the equipment
If you’re a beginner and you’re looking to rent the basic boards, then 2 to 4 hours will be enough.
If you’re renting advanced equipment, then 4 to 6 hours may be more suitable.
However long you decide to rent the boards for, just remember that there are no lifts to get you up and down the dunes and climbing these in the sunshine is hard work.
That being said, most companies will give you a ride in a sand buggy to the starting point.
What to wear
Regardless of the time of year, it’s the desert and it’s going to hot.
You’ll not only need to wear appropriate clothing for the heat but also protective gear from the sand.
Below is a list of everything you’ll need.
- Light clothing
- Sun cream
- Shoes that cover your feet (no sandals)
If you’re a pro at skiing and not so much snowboarding, then sand skiing is another option to consider.
The advice for this is the same as sandboarding and you’ll also be able to rent equipment from the same shops – Dito Sand Xsports or Sandboarding Peru.
Ride across the desert in a sand buggy
The second most popular activity here is sand buggy-ing and you’ll often find that tour companies are offering the boarding and buggying as a package.
This is often a great deal, but it’s worth noting that you only get around 30 minutes of sandboarding with these experiences.
For many other beginners, this is enough.
Having done this a number of times here, I can say that the experience depends on the driver.
I’ve experienced an exhilarating and equally terrifying journey, as well as more relaxing journeys that allow you to soak up the incredible views over the desert.
Both are great, but depending on what you’re looking for, you may want to check what kind of driver you’re booking with.
The experience is likely to last around 2 hours and if you’re able to, then I’d highly recommend doing this at sunset.
Boat on the Huacachina Lagoon
The lagoon that sits within the oasis has a number of boats to hire.
You have two options; rowing boats or peddle boats.
It’s slightly more expensive to use the rowing boats, however, these are more aesthetically pleasing, albeit slightly more hard work.
You can rent these boats for a minimum of 30 minutes and enjoy the tranquil setting surrounded by wildlife and nature.
Being surrounded by the vastness of sand and the towering expanse of the sky is also a truly unique and awe-inspiring moment that transcends the ordinary.
Scale the sand dunes and hike through the desert
Hiking in Huacachina offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the mesmerizing desert landscapes surrounding the oasis.
As soon as there is daylight, you’ll want to head out before the swarm of sand boarders and buggies hit to enjoy the silence and serenity of the peaceful atmosphere that’s both awe-inspiring and humbling.
There are various hiking trails and routes available, ranging from easy walks suitable for beginners to more challenging treks for experienced hikers.
No matter which you choose, you can explore the desert at your own pace, allowing yourself to fully appreciate the breathtaking vistas and observe the desert’s fascinating biodiversity.
Most people choose to ascend the towering sand dunes that surround Huacachina and explore spontaneously, however, you can find a number of trails here: hiking trails.
Either way, climbing these colossal formations requires stamina and determination, but the reward is worth it.
From the top of the dunes, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the oasis, the vast desert stretching into the horizon, and the distant city of Ica.
It’s a truly unforgettable sight.
It’s worth noting that before setting out on a hike, it’s essential to prepare adequately.
You’ll want to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear that’s suitable for walking on sandy terrain – so no sandals!
You’ll also need to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
It goes without saying that you’ll also need to carry enough water to stay hydrated, as the desert heat can be intense, and also inform someone about your hiking plans, just in case anything goes wrong.
Capture the ultimate picture
If you didn’t take a picture then it didn’t happen – right?
This is one of the most unique and special places to visit on earth, and it would be criminal to leave without capturing it.
Of course, you’ll want to capture the experiences and memories which you’ll be creating over your time here, but there is one picture in particular that tops them all and that involves climbing a sand dune in order to capture the Huacachina oasis amongst the tonnes of the surrounding sand.
Whether it’s day or night, there will likely be people on sandboards and buggies dotted across the desert, so if you want the ultimate picture, then you’ll need to be up at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds.
Watch the sunset
No visit would be complete without beholding the beauty of the sunset casting its golden glow upon the oasis and desert.
It is a view so incredible, that it becomes an essential part of your journey here and one that leaves an indelible mark on your soul.
While scaling the sand dunes may demand every ounce of your energy, it’s worth every drop of sweat.
But, if you want to be smart about it, then I highly recommend doing a sandboard and buggy tour that falls around sunset so that you can avoid having to do this.
Plus, if you do this, you’ll be able to enjoy the tranquillity of the desert, with only a handful of souls present to witness this magical spectacle.
As the sun begins its descent, you will witness the landscape transform before your eyes. The lights of the tiny village will gradually twinkle below, casting a dreamlike glow upon the oasis.
And as darkness unfolds, the starry night sky unveils itself, a celestial masterpiece above, bestowing upon you a sense of awe and wonder.
Party at the Wild Rover
Wild Rover is a hostel that has earned a legendary reputation as the ultimate party destination in the area.
It’s great if you’re travelling solo and renowned far and wide, it is the undisputed hub where both travellers and locals converge for an unforgettable night of revelry.
You can expect drinking games, dance classes and games around the pool and almost certainly a very late night.
It’s situated on the main road that leads into Huacachina and is surrounded by other places to eat and drink if you’re up for a big night.
Take a day trip to Cañón de los Perdidos
If you’re visiting this part of Peru, then Cañón de los Perdidos which is situated in the heart of the Ocucaje Desert is a hidden gem that’s only just beginning to gain popularity, so it’s well worth visiting before the crowds begin.
It’s approximately a three hour drive from Ica and it’s a bumpy journey across rugged terrain and winding ‘roads’ to reach this unique canyon – but don’t worry, the vehicle will have good suspension and it’s nothing a few travel sickness tablets won’t fix.
Upon arrival, an easy hike that takes between 30 minutes to one hour awaits, guiding you through the ancient layers of time.
This geological wonder, believed to be more than 35 million years old, has unveiled an astonishing secret—it harbours fossilized remains of whales, a testament to its incredible history.
En route, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the majestic Colorado Hill, a vantage point that rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views and allows you to gaze upon the surrounding landscapes, absorbing the awe-inspiring beauty of the region.
Once you arrive at the canyon, you’ll notice that the natural formation takes the shape of a colossal anchovy, reaching depths beyond comprehension.
According to local guides, its vastness extends over 100 meters wide and stretches an impressive 5 kilometres in length.
The awe-inspiring scale of Cañón de los Perdidos leaves an indelible mark on all who witness its grandeur.
Spot the wildlife
While the desert environment may seem sparse, there is actually heaps of wildlife which can be found here.
Mostly though, you’ll see birds, fish and maybe a few lizards.
The birds are perhaps the most interesting, with plenty around the lagoon and many flying above.
Some say they have spotted condors and vultures, however, you’re more likely to see Great Egrets, Neotropic Cormorants and Slate-colored Coots.
If you’re really lucky, then you may bump into the Peruvian Desert Fox – also known as the Sechuran Fox – and is a small canid species that is native to the coastal desert regions of Peru.
Relax on Huacachina Beach
Tucked away at the lagoon’s end lies a haven of tranquillity – Huacachina Beach – a secluded oasis of calm, untethered from the bustling presence of restaurants and bars.
Less than 10 minutes walk along the trail encircling the lagoon unveils this mini paradise, where you can sit back and absorb the beautiful surroundings in the desert sun or tucked under a swaying palm tree.
Although small, it’s rarely busy since most people are here to enjoy adventurous activities across the sand dunes, but if you need a moment to yourself then this is the perfect place to escape to.
Swim in the lagoon
Swimming in the lagoon is extremely popular during the height of summer.
In fact, it’s so popular that the last time I was there, they were building around 50 changing rooms along the edge of the water ready for the next surge of swimmers.
That being said, I’ve never seen anyone in the lagoon, but perhaps I was just there at the wrong time.
A guy building the changing rooms assured us that plenty of people swim here and I guess there must be demand if they’re building so many changing rooms!
Grab a coffee from Jaku Coffee
Jaku Coffee is a sweet little coffee shop on the edge of the lagoon that many people claim is the best they’ve tasted during their time in South America.
While Peru may not bask in the same renown as its neighbouring coffee powerhouses like Brazil and Colombia, rest assured that a delightful surprise awaits you at Jaku Coffee.
Yet, it is not solely the exquisite taste that sets this place apart.
The baristas, true maestros of their craft, love to show their artistic flair and transform each cup into a canvas.
It’s also a great inexpensive place to grab a light bite to eat if you need to refuel your energy.
Enjoy a luxury camping trip in the desert
If you want to make your trip extra special then a luxury camping trip is the way to do it.
As you embark on the journey across the desert to your camping location, you’ll experience the ultimate blend of luxury and adventure amidst mesmerizing dunes that surround this stunning oasis.
Included in the experience, you’ll get the opportunity to enjoy some exhilarating sandboarding on some of the towering dunes and witness the awe-inspiring sight of the sun gracefully descending over the vast desert horizon at sunset.
As the evening unfolds, you’ll return to your campsite, where opulent luxury meets the rugged beauty of the desert and be spoilt with a private chef who will whip up a delicious meal to go with your complimentary bottle of wine.
You’ll spend the rest of the night around the campfire and under the stars, sharing stories with your campmates or tucked up in your tent enjoying quality time with your loved one.
Where to eat and drink
There are heaps of places all around the edge of the lagoon and along the main strip which leads into Huacachina and some are notoriously bad with high complaints of food poisoning and long wait times, so you will want to check the reviews before you enter somewhere on a whim.
Some safe bets that I can vouch are great are:
- Wild Olive
- DM Hoteles Mossone
- La Laguna
Where to stay in Huacachina in Peru
Best Hostels in Huacachina
Banana Adventure Hostel
Banana Adventure Hostel is one of the best hostels in the area.
It strikes the perfect balance, providing a comfortable and serene haven where peace and tranquillity reign supreme.
The rooms are clean and comfortable and each bed offers a curtain for privacy and you can expect a great breakfast for a decent price.
The entire complex is extremely modern and you’ll even benefit from a pool and a rooftop.
If you’re looking for a chilled vibe with a nice atmosphere and excellent facilities, then this is a great choice.
Check prices: Banana Adventure Hostel
Wild Rover Hostel
As mentioned earlier in this guide, Wild Rover is a renowned place to party.
The staff go above and beyond to ensure their guests have a memorable time here and that usually involves a heavy night of drinking, games and pool parties.
The rooms themselves are clean and comfortable, however given the party atmosphere, if you’re a light sleeper then you may want to reconsider or ask for one of the rooms which face the street as these are quieter.
Check prices: Wild Rover Hostel
Best Hotels in Huacachina
DM Hoteles Mossone
DM Hoteles Mossone is a huge hotel which is situated in possibly one of the nicest buildings in the area with some absolutely stunning gardens.
It’s also home to a lovely restaurant that overlooks the lagoon which you can utilise, even if you’re not staying here.
Most of the rooms are a decent size and come equipped with the usual necessities such as a mini-bar and air conditioning unit.
The hotel also features a pool that has views of the towering sand dunes and gets sun for most of the day.
If you’re looking for a comfortable and quiet stay, then this is a great option to consider.
Check prices: DM Hoteles Mossone
Carola Lodge is a lively hotel with comfortable rooms and an excellent pool.
The staff make a real effort to ensure guests are having a great time when they stay here and put on events which usually involve games, music and alcohol.
Whilst staying here is fun, it’s for those who are looking for a vibrant experience rather than a relaxing break.
Check prices: Carola Lodge
Best time to visit Huacachina in Peru
The best time to visit Huacachina is during the dry season, which generally lasts from May to October.
During the dry season, Huacachina experiences sunny and warm days with minimal rainfall.
The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from the mid-20s to low 30s degrees Celsius, making it ideal for all of the most popular things to do in Huacachina.
If you choose to visit outside of these months, the weather will likely be overcast in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon, and temperatures which hover around the low 20’s degrees Celsius
Can you do a day trip to Huacachina from Lima?
Yes, you can do a day trip to Huacachina from Lima, however, it will be a long day since it takes 4-5 hours one way.
It will be an early start and a late finish, but you can always sleep on the coach – especially if you choose to travel with Cruz del Sur as these are fairly luxurious buses.
Is Huacachina expensive?
No not at all. Activities and accommodation here are cheap.
There are a range of places to eat – some are more expensive than others – but if you’re on a budget then this is a great destination.
How long do you need in Huacachina?
How long you need here depends on what you want to do and see.
Most people spend 1-2 days in the area and feel that is adequate, however, you could easily spend 3-4 days if you’re looking to take it easy or do the day trip to Cañón de los Perdidos.
Is Huacachina worth it?
Visiting this oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert is an incredible experience and it’s one that’s far more accessible than other locations around the world.
Is Huacachina a real oasis?
Yes, Huacachina is indeed a real oasis.
Are there mosquitoes in Huacachina?
Mosquitoes are not typically a significant concern here since the desert climate of the region, characterized by arid conditions and low humidity, makes it less conducive for mosquitoes to thrive.
Plus, the lack of standing water and the drier environment limit their breeding grounds and population.
That being said, there can still be occasional sightings or isolated instances, particularly near the lagoon.
Whether you’re heading north or south, it’s usually possible to take the bus or fly if it’s a city like Arequipa or Iquitos.
If you have limited time in Peru and you’re doing a whistlestop tour of the country, then you’ll almost certainly be heading to Cusco.
If Cusco is your next stop, below are some details on how to get there.
Huacachina to Cusco
If you want to take a flight, then you’ll need to travel back to Lima, or to another city such as Ayacucho in order to fly to Cusco.
Travelling back to Lima by bus will take between 4-5 hours and travelling to Ayacucho will take around 6.
You’ll need to book the bus through RedBus since there are only a few bus companies which operate this route.
Flying from Lima to Cusco takes less than an hour and is fairly inexpensive, but you will need to bear in mind you’re going from 0 to 3,400 meters altitude very quickly and so you’ll likely have some effects.
Tip: altitude sickness can be life threatening – to help with the effects of the altitude, you can pick up some tablets called Azitak from a pharmacy in Lima and/or Cusco. You also need to ensure that you’re travel insurance covers high-altitude destinations.
If you’re looking to travel from Huacachina to Cusco by bus then you’ll need to take a night bus and be prepared for a long journey of 17-20 hours depending on the bus company and traffic conditions.
There are a few different bus companies which operate this route, however, paying the higher price for Cruz del Sur where you will get an actual bed (depending on the bus you select) certainly is worth it.
Check prices: Busbus
Discover more of Peru
If you enjoyed this guide to Huacachina in Peru and you’re wondering where to head next, then just one hour away is Paracas – a charming beach town.
We’ve also got an epic Peru itinerary if you’re looking for n easy-to-follow plan so that all you need to do is hop on a plane or bus.
If you’re looking for specific places across the country, then head to the search bar or navigation menu and check out all our guides on Peru.
Stay Wild Travels.
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