A Desert Treasure

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Huacachina_Décembre_2006_-_Panorama Around 450 miles west of one of the most popular destinations in South America, Machu Picchu, you’ll find a place that’s both an oasis of calm and a serious adventure spot: Huacachina.

Every year people around the world try and decide on the best possible vacation destination they can find. Some seek adventure, some are more interested in leisure, and others simply want an extraordinary. unforgettable experience. Cities like Las Vegas and Macau attract millions of tourists hoping to hit a lucky streak; the golden beaches of the Caribbean are constantly packed with sun-worshippers. Huacachina is neither glitzy like Vegas or thronged with beach-lovers like, say, St Lucia, but it is a true gem, well worth a visit. You can experience the thrill of Vegas all year round at a site like River Belle, but a visit to Huacachina is an adventure in itself.

 Oasi

Huacachina’s beauty lies in its difference to other local tourist hotspots. It’s literally an oasis in the desert, with a turquoise lake surrounded by greenery and a backdrop of huge sand dunes, reminiscent of the Sahara. The town itself is small and survives on tourism. Restaurants, bars and cafes line the edges of the peaceful lagoon, but it’s the adventurous possibilities of the dunes that really bring the pleasure-seekers to town.

Activities

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 4.10.57 AM copyooo The most popular activities on the sands are dune-buggy rides and sandboarding. Dune buggies are piloted by experienced drivers, and those looking for an adrenaline fix will love the thrill of hitting the peak of a dune and zooming down the other side, as a plume of fine sand sprays from the back of the vehicle. Gentler buggy tours of the desert are also available for those who want them! The sandboarding experience is similar to snowboarding, but no experience is needed. If you find you can’t stand up on your board, simply lie down on it – not easy on a snowboard!

Accommodation

There are hotel options at all price levels in Huacachina. Las Dunas at Ica, about seven minutes from Huacachina, is a high-end resort that’s been operating nearly 40 years. The rooms are clean, large and modern, with beautiful domed ceilings, large patio areas and air conditioning. Expect to pay about $120 a night for two adults traveling in the fall. There are also several backpacker hostels in Huacachina itself. Huacachinero is a step up from the cheapest places. It has a pool and – important for some people – lacks a noisy nightclub! Staying a week here will cost about $350 less than at Las Dunas.

If you’re traveling through Peru and taking in Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines, Huacachina is a perfect spot to include on your itinerary.

(Images courtesy of wikipedia, nazcaflights.com)

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