huacachina oasis

When people think of Peru, a desert oasis is not something that usually comes to mind. Peru is known for most are the mountains and hikes such as Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and Laguna 69. But Peru is also known for its long stretch of beaches and many different ecosystems. With that being said, one of the most unique places to visit in Peru is Huacachina.

Huacachina is a desert oasis located just a few short minutes outside of the town of Ica. It is a small town but it packs a punch. This town is known for its partying but has some amazing activities you can do as well.

In this guide, I will go over the top things to do when visiting Huacachina in Peru.

huacachina peru

Where is Huacachina Located in Peru?

Located just a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride outside of Ica sits Huacachina in Peru. If you want to get to Ica from Lima it is around a 4-hour bus ride.

This area of Peru has the largest sand dunes in the entire country. It is also located very close to a popular beach region of Paracas, which is a National park.

The History of Huacachina

Huacachina stands for “weeping women”. It is a very unique place in Peru as it is located in the dryest place in the world. Peru is home to some of the largest sand dunes in all of South America and that’s what makes Huacachina so special.

Legend has it that Huacachina was the name of an Incan Princess. She lost her husband and was mourning his death. Her tears are what built the oasis as we see it today.

On a more real note, the lake was formed by underground aquifers and which help to promote plant life around the beautiful town of Huacachina.

huacachina peru

How to Get to Huacachina, Peru

There are many different ways of getting to Huacachina from throughout the country. Many people fly straight to Lima as it is their first stop. In order to get to Huacachina, you must first arrive in Ica. Below I will give the other options from different towns.

Lima to Huacachina

This isn’t too long of a bus ride from Lima to Ica. It will end up taking you around 4 to 5 hours. I highly recommend that you pay the extra money and get the VIP seats. These will be better for sleeping and overall make it a much more enjoyable ride.

  • If you don’t want to go to the bus terminal, you can order your ticket on Redbus. This is the go-to for online bus tickets in Peru.
  • Julio Ceasar is one of the highest-rated bus companies but they are all pretty good.
  • Terminal Plaza Norte and La Victoria are two good stations
  • The bus ride is around 4 hours. If you buy early you can get tickets as cheap as $9.
  • Once arriving in Ica, you can take a tuk-tuk to Huacachina for around ~10-20 soles. This will be around a 10-minute ride.

Cusco to Huacachina

Cusco is one of, if not the most, popular cities in all of Peru. It is where most people start their trip to Peru. If you are looking for ways to make it to Huacachina, then I got you covered.

  • I was having issues finding routes on redbus from Cusco to Ica. I did find some buses on Busbud.
  • The ride will cost anywhere between $25-$40 and will take around 17 hours.
  • I would suggest taking the night bus as you will save money on accommodation for that night.
  • If you are having difficulty finding legitimate buses, then you could fly to Lima and then follow the steps above to get to Ica.
huacachina peru

Best Places to Stay in Huacachina, Peru

  • Banana’s Adventures: If you’re looking for a great place to relax, sit by the pool, and meet other like-minded travelers then this is the place for you. Great bar and free breakfast.
  • Wild Olive Guesthouse: This guesthouse is also an amazing Italian Restaurant. It is great for families and travelers alike.
  • Wild Rover Huacachina: This hostel is a chain throughout South America. It is known for its parties and has some of the cheapest dorm prices you’ll find in the area.

My Suggested Hiking Gear

Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.

  • KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
  • Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.

Is Huacachina Worth Visiting?

In my personal opinion, I think Huacachina is worth visiting if you have time. I wouldn’t spend more than 2 or 3 days here. Since it is easily accessible from Lima, then you could end your trip here before flying back home.

It is a great site to see but it is quite small and touristy. I prefer the mountains of Peru but this was a great and much-needed break from the high-altitude life.

The Best Time to Visit Huacachina

The best time to visit Huacachina in Peru is between the months of May and November. This is the winter for Peru and so it will be cooler with clearer skies. With that being said, it is also one of the most popular times to visit, so prices could be higher in certain areas.

huacachina peru

10 Things To Do When Visiting Huacachina in Peru

Even though I as well as many others suggest only staying in Huacacahina for a few days, there is still plenty of things to do. Below I will go over a list of activities that you can do while visiting one of the most spectacular places in Peru.

1. Climb the Dunes

When arriving at Huacachina in Peru, you will often look up and notice little specs of people up above. Climbing the dunes that surround this area is a must when visiting as it will give you an amazing viewpoint of the entire area.

It may look daunting when you first arrive but it will only take you 15 minutes to reach the top. It is a unique experience as you hike up large dunes with your foot sinking into the ground with every step.

huacachina peru

2. Watch the Sunset on a Rooftop Bar

There is no better feeling in the world than being in the middle of a desert oasis in Peru, drinking a Pisco Sour, and watching the sunset. So that’s exactly what we did the first night we arrived here.

We got dinner and some drinks at the Mosquito bar for sunset. It was a great location with an amazing rooftop and workers.

3. Walk Around the Lake

Some prefer to walk around during the day or at night. I have done both and it is extremely peaceful at night. With that being said the lake is alive during the day and you will have many opportunities to find other activities to do.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the Princess who is still known to walk these areas at night.

4. Ride a Dune Buggy

Our favorite activity by far was getting the chance to cruise around the vast amount of dunes in a dune buggy. At times it was scary but that was the whole thrill of it. There are many companies that do it and if you climb the dunes, you will be able to see all of them go during sunset.

If you’re interested in doing a buggy tour, I would ask your accommodation first to see if they already have a company that they work with. If you’re one to book one in advance then check them out here.

huacachina peru

5. Go Sandboarding

When looking up Huacachina in Peru you will see many photos of people sandboarding. There are different options you can take if you’re wanting to take part in this activity.

There are boards to rent around the lake if you would rather do it here. If you do decide to do the dune buggy tour, most of them will bring boards for everyone to take. These hills are much higher than the ones you can ride around the lake.

6. Party

Huacachina is also known for its parties all throughout Peru. Many backpackers come here to ride the dune buggies during the day and to drink at night. The Wild Rover is known for its parties but there are many other bars/hostels to go to mentioned above.

7. Enjoy a Peruvian Malbec

Peru is known for their wine and especially its malbec. This is a full-body wine that is predominant in South American countries like Argentina and Peru.

If you stay at the Wild Olive Guesthouse, then you will be right next to the best Italian restaurant in Huacacahina. We enjoyed an amazing dinner here and the Malbec wine was better than I could have ever imagined.

8. Paddle Boats

If you want to get even more immersed in the natural oasis of Huacachina, then you can rent a paddle boat to go around the lake! You can rent these along the shores. While the lake is very small, it is a great way to take in the sun and kill some time.

9. Day Trip to Isla Ballestas

Isla Ballestas is often referred to as a “poor man’s Gallagapos”. This is a set of islands just off the coast of Peru. It will take around 90 minutes to get to the coast from Huacachina and then a boat ride to the islands.

This is near the town of Paracas, which is an easy day trip from Huacachina or Ica. There are many things to do in Paracas, and this is at the top of the list!

While visiting these islands you will see many different species of animals such as sea lions, pelicans, Peruvian boobies, and Humboldt penguins.

10. Fly Over the Nazca Lines

Drawn into the sand are Pre-Colombian geoglyphs. These are different drawings spread across 1,000 square kilometers. It is said there are over 300 different ones.

By far the best way to see these is by plane. You can take a tour to Ballestas Island, and Huacachina oasis, as well as fly over the Nazca, lines all in one tour here.

My Final Thoughts on Visiting Huacahina, Peru

Huacachina is a magical place and it makes sense as to why it is so popular for tourists from Peru and other countries. It is the only Oasis in South America and the pictures are more than Instagram-worthy. If you have a few extra days before flying home, I would highly suggest stopping by this area. It is easily accessible which will alleviate any stress from getting to your flight on time.

Thank you for reading my guide on things to do in Huacachina, Peru! I hope this gave you some ideas of activities you can expect when arriving at the only Oasis in South America.