September 3rd 2019 – huacachina
After a relatively short drive (by Peru standards) we arrived in Huacachina, a true desert oasis home to fewer than 100 permanent residents. It is the main place for the production of pisco, Peru’s national drink, and is famed for sandboarding – we were definitely there to try both!
We arrived late afternoon and had a dash across the lake to get to our hostel and back again in time to meet our sandboarding instructor. We were not used to the desert heat and arrived at the Eco camp hostel looking like hot sweaty pack mules. The eco camp itself was much more attractive than we were however, with large white tents, tasteful bamboo verandas and a very inviting looking swimming pool. Unfortunately taking a dip was not to be as we were off to get even more sweaty and hike up a sand dune …. only to slide back down it again!
If you’re inspired by my excited diary ramblings and want a definitive guide to Huacachina, check out my post here!
We met our instructors, organised with Peru Hop and got presented with our board. My stomach hit the floor when I saw the size of the sand dune we were about to climb, not because I was scared of sliding down it, au contraire I was looking forward to that bit, it was the thought of getting up it that terrified me! It was most definitely a slog I can tell you and by the time we reached the top my thighs were burning, my lungs felt like they might pop and I had a baby sahara desert inhabiting my shoes, but we made it! Now for the fun part! Sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding; professionals wear boots and stand up to ride the dunes, but for the beginners, we went down lying flat on the board… face first. Plenty of mouthfuls of sand, lost hats, face-planting and friction burns later we were all at the bottom. A 20-minute uphill clamber on sand for a 3 second thrill ride right back to where you started. But hey it’s now officially ticked off the bucket list and I am still finding sand in places I didn’t even know I had as a result!
After that, we were advised to go and watch the sunset, which was apparently quite the spectacle. In order to do so, guess what? We had to climb back up the sand dune again, brilliant…. In fairness the second time did seem easier and the view of the sunset from the top was a worthy reward for our struggles. Sunsets are beautiful at the best of times but sat on the sand watching the sun slip behind the dunes, throwing shades of orange into the sky just seemed to give it that spectacular edge. So, if you find yourself in Huacachina definitely put these two activities on your to-do list!
What you should also put on your to-do list is to stay at the Ecocamp there. It is one of the coolest places I’ve stayed to date, set back into the sands, with the dunes surrounding you, you can’t help but feel like a desert explorer, well, that’s what I felt like anyway ( though I do have an overactive imagination)! Sasha and I were also ecstatic to have the luxury of our own room for once, no ignorant light switcher-oners or randy couples to tackle that night! Though I did have a Bridget Jones moment and waltzed with confidence straight into someone else’s tent! I can honestly say, I slept like a log, it was the best nights sleep I’d had the entire trip so far in my double bed with the cosy blankets on top of me. It was GLORIOUS!! Breakfast was also the best we’d had – there was a selection of fruit juices, scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, bread, a mixture of fruit and avocado (I get very excited about avocados)!
What’s more to stay in this place won’t break the bank and if travelling with Peru Hop you get a 20% discount on your stay!
Want to know more about Peru Hop? Check out my full review here!
We had our evening meal with a group of travellers we met via Peru hop, one of which was leaving us the next day as had a different itinerary, so we sadly parted ways. One of the things I love most about travelling is some of the great people you have a chance to meet from all over the globe (or sometimes ironically practically on your doorstep), you can learn so much from each other’s experiences and share new ones together.
The next day after our phenomenal night sleep we attempted to do some washing, confident the scorching desert sun would work its magic on our unmentionables. Helpfully, the sun decided not to make an appearance until around 11 o’clock. Typical. Though, I’ll take my hat off and say that desert sun can do a lot of drying in an hour! In the end the only thing we were unable to get dry were the few white items we’d brought (the whole reflecting the sun thing clearly works) but in the grand scheme of things we did pretty well after the disastrous start #backpackerproblems
At 1pm we set off on our journey to Arequipa, via Nazca (to see the Nazca lines) and a Pisco Winery. The winery was only a short ride away from Huacachina. This was another free tour with Peru Hop. We had a quick tour and chat about how the Pisco is made detailing the different parts of the process and then we got to taste some! We were quite shocked as they were liberally pouring shot after shot of different Pisco varieties into our glasses at how much Pisco we got to sample (maybe hoping if they plied us with alcohol then we may be merry enough to fork out more money). They even do a Pisco version of baileys, though my favourite, christened the “baby-maker” was a sweet white Pisco wine which tasted like juice, I can see how many a baby was made after drinking a few glasses of that! It should come with a warning label.
If you’re feeling inspired to visit Peru, check out my other posts on this amazing country here!
Visiting the Nazca Lines
A few shots later and feeling a little merry we were sent off on our way to start our journey to Nazca. Nazca is one of the driest places on earth and is famous for the Nazca lines, massive geoglyphs etched into the land which are thought to have been part of some religious worship of the ancient people. If you have the time and money, you can take a flight to view the lines from above. For us, lacking in both, we decided to take the cheap option and witness them from the viewing platforms (basically precariously tall scaffolding).
After our brief stop, it was time to try and get some sleep, this apparently wasn’t optional as at 10 o’clock the whole bus was plunged into darkness (subtle). The buses were fairly comfy and duvets were provided so we all managed to get some shut eye before arriving in Arequipa at 5am.
If you enjoyed reading about my adventures check out more travel diaries here!