When backpacking Peru, there are certain cities and landmarks you simply shouldn’t miss. Huacachina is definitely one of them. Located at the beginning of the Ica desert, this beautiful small town looks like it came straight out from a fantasy movie. Famous for hosting the only oasis in the continent and for its agitated nightlife, Huacachina is waiting for you to visit it in the heart of Peru. Discover everything you will need to know to make the most out of your time in this amazing location. Are you ready? The ultimate travel guide to Huacachina begins now!
Yes, I’m telling you. There is one oasis in South America, and it’s located in the heart of Peru.
400 kilometers away from Lima, the country’s capital city, and 5 kilometers away from Ica, you will find the stunning Huacachina town. Built around the oasis – the main attraction -, several small constructions bring this charming town lo life.
The Huacachina oasis started as a natural lagoon. But unfortunately, as tourism grew, the lagoon began to empty. Nowadays, the authorities had installed a pump to bring water to it, and keep the biodiversity safe.
Of course, as you might imagine, we are talking about an extremely touristic destination. So everything there was planned and thought for travelers all around the world to enjoy it. But that fact doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit it.
Surely, if you are a backpacker like us, I’m sure your journeys are more about seeking authentic experiences and finding new cultures. But everyone deserves a few fun days, and Huacachina is the place for that.
Traveling to Huacachina is not hard at all. If you are moving from Lima, you will have to buy a bus ticket to Ica. There are numerous companies offering that stretch several times a day. The journey takes around 5 hours, and costs around 40 soles or 11 dollars.
Once in Ica, you have two main options to cover the last few kilometers. The first one, take an uber or taxi. Taxis are normally waiting in the bus terminal, and you can negotiate the price before hopping in. If you choose to call an Uber, you are going to save some money, but the difference is not that much. This stretch will cost you around 15 soles or 4 dollars.
The second option is to arrange transportation with your accommodation, as they normally have this kind of shuffle service for an extra cost.
If you are coming from any other big city in Peru, simply book a bus to Ica and follow the same instructions. You won’t get lost! In case of doubts, check out Rome2rio.
Okay, then. You have arrived at your destination! What should you do first?
As I mentioned before, Huacachina is a really small place. The estimated number of inhabitants is a little over a hundred! The town is so small, that you would be able to walk it all over twice or three times in just a few hours.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do.
So take a few days out of your itinerary to enjoy and relax this magical town. Let’s see now some of the main things to do in Huacachina, one of Peru’s most beautiful destinations.
The buggy tours are absolutely a must for adventurous travelers. It’s one of the best things to do in Huacachina. Have you ever ride a rollercoaster? Well, if you like that feeling, you should definitely sign up for a buggy tour.
If you do, you will be jumping dunes up to 30 meters high at full speed in powerful sand buggies. Fun and adrenaline will be guaranteed. And that’s why you decided to visit Huacachina in the first place, right?
You will find people selling this tour all over town. It really doesn’t make much of a difference if you choose one over another. They all offer the same and the price is standardized. But do make sure you choose a licensed company that takes security measures seriously.
There are mainly two kinds of buggy tours: the short ones and the longer ones. The short tour lasts around one hour. In the long one, you will be entitled also to practicing another incredibly fun activity in the dunes: sandboarding.
I don’t know if you had ever try sandboarding, but let me tell you it’s really fun. Sliding down the dunes at high speed on top of a board is a feeling out of this world. It’s fast, it’s scary, and it’s definitely a wild moment you will recall forever.
I know, it sounds like a hard sport. But you don’t need to be an expert to try sandboarding in Huacachina. We were both rookies when we did it. And instead of sliding standing, you can simply sit down or lye down on the board for a fun slide.
If you fancy an adventure, sandboarding is a must for travelers in Huacachina.
You can hire a buggy tour and go sandboarding on the dunes, or you can also rent a board and walk your way to the best spot you can find in the desert. Either way, it will be lots of fun.
Pss… Sandboarding might not be the safest activity in the world. So make sure you have good travel insurance to get your back in case something goes wrong. Make sure you read our post about choosing the best travel insurance.
Everyone loves a good sunset, isn’t it? And Huacachina hosts one of the best ones in Peru. So if you are looking for a nice view, climb up the dunes and get ready to be amazed.
Watching the sunset in Huacachina is definitely a must. You will love seeing the sky colors blend into the desert orange landscape.
If you are going on a buggy tour, we recommend you to choose one leaving around 4 pm. That way, you will kill three birds with one stone. You will ride the dunes in the desert, you will have fun sandboarding, and you will watch the most incredible sunset ever.
Huacachina is a small town, yes. But it’s still one of the craziest places in the world. So if you were thinking there was not much to do over there, you were wrong.
The Nightlife in Huacachina is one of the wildest in Peru. It’s incredible, but they have managed to put a lot of party vibes in just a few blocks.
You will find several bars perfectly fit for starting the party, hostels with vibrant bars, and even a few nightclubs. A lot of travelers from all over the world meet up every night in this town, and party like there were no tomorrow.
If you are looking for a more authentic experience, you can always go to Ica to find a good party. The immense city has lots of nightclubs and bars filled with locals every weekend.
Want to visit some other destinations close to Huacachina? You are in luck! The Ica region in Peru hosts several beautiful destinations and activities, and you could visit them all while staying in Huacachina or Ica itself.
A few kilometers away from Ica, Paracas is a must when you are backpacking Peru. It is a city on the west coast of Peru, known for its beaches, its National Reserve, and for being the starting point towards the Ballestas Islands.
You can visit Paracas and come back to Huacachina hiring a day tour, or you could go and stay there for a few days to enjoy every highlight. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret going.
Ica is famous for being one of the main wine centers in Peru. Countless farms and vineyards work in the production of Pisco, the alcoholic beverage per excellence in the country. A five minutes journey separates Huacachina from this destination.
Visiting one of the many pisco vineyards is one of the best things you can do there. You will have the opportunity of learning some interesting facts about pisco production and try out some of the best ones. Be careful, though, pisco is a really strong drink!
94 kilometers away from Ica, you will find the famous Nazca Lines. They are a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs extended in the desert sands. That’s right, the same desert.
If you care about history and unsolvable mysteries, Nazca is a mandatory visit while you are backpacking in Peru.
You can hire a day tour directly at most accommodations in Huacachina, or ask around at one of the many tourist agencies available in town.
Now you know there are a few interesting things to do in Huacachina and it’s surroundings. So even though you could simply go on a day tour, we strongly advise you to spend at least a few days in town.
We have reached now the travel guide’s section where we tell you the best places to stay in Huacachina.
If you are looking for a party hostel, our star option for you is the Wild Rover Hostel. They have a great atmosphere, people from all over the world, a fun bar and the best swimming pool. Check out its prices and availability here.
Banana’s Adventure is another great option. They have an amazing swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
If you prefer quieter accommodations, you might want to check out Desert Nights Hostel, perfect for couple travelers. It also has a shared kitchen, so you can save a little money just by cooking your own meals.
Ok, then. We are almost coming to the end of this travel guide to Huacachina, Peru. Now you know how to arrive, what to do, and where to stay. But before starting your adventure, check out these few pieces of advice we have gathered for you.
In Huacachina, you won’t find supermarkets. There are lots of little stores where you can buy basic stuff. Chips, cookies, beer… But if you are planning to cook your own meals you will need to buy supplies ahead. Ica is a good place to find markets and big stores.
There’s no need to bring all your money in cash. Huacachina is a small place but it’s thought for tourists. So, you will find ATMs, and most bars, restaurants, and accommodations accept cards. But, just to be sure, take a little cash with you, in case the ATMs are out of money.
If you want our friendly advice, shoes are better than flipflops. Any closed footwear will do. Keep in mind you will need your feet to stop the sandboard, and sand can be really hot! T-shirts and shorts will be fine, but make sure you grab also a jacket if you are staying for the sunset. We are talking about a desert here, temperatures go down after the sun is gone. And, if you are taking a camera with you, take really good care of it. The sand might hurt its lens.
I know you know. Huacachina is located in the desert. That means the thermal amplitude is huge. Days are absolutely warm, but nights can be really cold. So when you are packing your clothes, make sure you grab some jackets for the cold nights. And don’t forget mosquito’s repellent. Because those little bastards survive anything!
Now you know everything you need to know before traveling to Huacachina and spend the time of your life in Peru!
If you have any questions or suggestions, use the comment section below. We will be happy to answer as soon as possible. And if you liked this post and found it useful, feel free to share it.
Have a great adventure!