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This is your ultimate guide to visiting Huacachina, Peru including how to get there, where to stay, the best things to do in Huacachina, and so much more!
Huacachina, Peru is a tiny town set amongst the sand dunes in central Peru. It is also known as “the Oasis” which is the actual name for the man-made lake in which the town is built around. It is essentially a tourist town offering a few very exciting activities and popular places to stay.
If you are considering visiting Huacachina for yourself, then this blog should answer all of your questions. From getting there, day trips to Huacachina from Lima, and the best things to see and do, this is your ultimate to guide to visiting Huacachina!
*Tip: Be sure to read our important tips for visiting Huacachina at the bottom of the blog – these are things we really wished we knew before we went and would’ve saved us a lot of time and money!
About Huacachina, Peru
Huacachina, Peru is a very tiny village located in the middle of sand dunes not far from the city of Ica. It’s commonly referred to as “the Oasis”, a fitting name considering it is based around a gorgeous lagoon. This lagoon, or lake, is man-made, but that doesn’t make it any less gorgeous. Looking down at the town or the lake from the top of the surrounding sand dunes is picture-perfect!
Only around 100 people permanently live in Huacachina, but the town gets full of tourists, especially on weekends! Some people choose to visit to stay for a couple of days, while others simply visit on a day trip from Ica. Huacachina is only about 5km/3.1 miles from Ica, making it just a quick taxi ride away. It’s also only about a 4-hour drive from Lima, making it a popular destination for international travelers after arriving in Lima’s large international airport.
Huacachina makes for the perfect getaway thanks to all of the fun things to do here. You can relax with a cocktail by the lake or ride in only of the thrilling buggys. The town also boasts a selection of nice hostels and hotels, as well as vibrant restaurants and bars.
Getting to Huacachina, Peru
If you want to visit Huacachina you have two options: take the public bus there or visit on a guided day trip. Here’s some info on both so you can decide which is the best option for you
Public Bus to Huacachina
There are no public buses directly to Huacachina, but rather you will take the bus to the city of Ica and then take a short 10-minute ride to Huacachina from there (expect to pay about 10 soles for the taxi.)
Most travelers visit Huacachina from either Lima, Arequipa, or Cusco.
From Lima, the bus to Ica takes about 4 hours. Expect to pay about 20-50 soles and departures are regular throughout the day.
From Arequipa, the bust to Ica takes about 12 hours and costs around 100 soles.
From Cusco to Huacachina, the bus will take about 16 hours and cost around 120 soles.
You can book your bus in advance online using the reputable website Busbud.com.
Huacachina on a Day Trip from Lima
It is very common for people to visit Huacachina on a day trip from Lima. Although it makes for a long day and most tours run for 10-12 hours, it is still one of the best tours in Lima making for a very fun day.
Most of the full-day trips from Lima include a trip to the Ballestas Island as well as a pisco tasting. However, you can find cheaper options that only visit Huacachina. Once in Huacachina you will go on a buggy ride, try sandboarding, and walk along the Oasis.
In all honesty, the one-day trips from Lima to Huacachina are rushed and make for a very long day. Instead, opt for a 2-day tour like this one that comes highly rated. You’ll get out on a boat to the Ballestas Islands, visit Huacachina, and then go on a Pisco tour the following day before returning to Lima.
Huacachina on a Day Trip from Paracas or Ica
If you’re staying in Paracas or Ica you can also go on a day trip to Huacachina. The benefit to this is that there is less driving included and you’ll have more time to enjoy Huacachina!
Related Read: Check out the 30 most fun activities to do while you’re in Lima!
12 Things to do in Huacachina, Peru
If you want to spend a night or two in Huacachina (and you should!) there are a few different activities that will keep you busy. Here are the 12 BEST things to do in Huacachina, Peru as well as everything you need to know for doing them yourself!
1. Dune Buggy Tour
This is absolutely the number one activity in Huacachina. If you’re only going to do one thing in Huacachina make it a dune buggy tour. These tours are adventurous and offer the most spectacular views of the surrounding sand dunes.
For as little as about 100 soles per person, you’ll jump in a dune buggy and race around the dunes. To be completely honest, this part is actually pretty scary – but that’s all part of the fun. I literally screamed from start to finish but also had an absolute blast. It is like riding on a roller-coaster…except through sand dunes!
You can book these dune buggy tours in town from one of the many street salesmen or through your hotel or hostel. Just remember, if you want a crazy ride offer to tip your driver and then you’re sure to see how crazy of a driver he really can be!
Most dune buggy tours, like this one, also include a sandboarding experience. You won’t spend the whole time sandboarding but you will get to go down a few hills on a board on your belly. If you want to try standing up, you’ll need to book a specific sandboarding tour, like this one, that includes the proper skis or board (more on this experience below.)
If you aren’t staying in Huacachina, you can also book a sandboarding tour from Paracas or Lima.
*Tip: If you’re staying the night in Huacachina consider booking a tour for later in the afternoon. This time of day is the coolest and best for comfortably exploring the sand dunes.
Sandboarding is exactly like snowboarding except in the sand instead of the snow! In Huacachina you can ride up to the top of some very steep dunes in a dune buggy and then make your way down sandboarding.
While most dune buggy tours also include “sandboarding” it isn’t really sandboarding and you actually only can ride down the hills on a board suited for lying down on your belly.
However, if you book a real stand-up sandboarding tour, like this one, you will be given a board suited for standing up as well as some instructions on how to do it. Or if you prefer, you can do sand-skiing instead!
This looked really cool but it would be best suited for those with snowboarding experience. If you’ve never snowboarded before I’d recommend sticking to the belly boards, it’ll be easier. With that said, many people absolutely love sandboarding, and although I’ve never tried it, sand-skiing is getting some rave reviews.
3. Pisco Tour
One of the reasons we spent a couple of nights in Huacachina was so that we could go on a Pisco tour one day! I love Pisco sours and also love wine, and I learned that from Huacachina you can actually book a Pisco and wine tour of the area.
Pisco is the clear spirit made in Peru. Strangely enough, Pisco is actually made from grapes so many Pisco distilleries also make wine – a win-win if you ask me!
On these tours, you’ll head out of Huacachina and to the outskirts of Ica. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit a couple of different vineyards and distilleries and samples heaps of wine and Pisco!
On our tour, we went to three different places and must’ve tried more than 30 samples including a Pisco sour cocktail. Our tour lasted for about 3.5 hours and cost about 300 soles per person. It’s safe to say it was a lot of fun and great value. We came back to our hostel smiling from ear to ear (and a little tipsy too!) You can book the same tour as us online in advance here.
You can also book this full-day trip from Lima that includes Pisco tastings as well as Huacachina AND the Ballestas Islands.
4. Visit Tacama Winery
If you don’t want to go on a complete Pisco and wine tour but are somewhat interested in the wine grown in the area, consider just getting a taxi to the vineyard called Tacama. It is Peru’s first winery and it is simply gorgeous! Imagine gardens, vineyards, water fountains, and a beautifully decorated colonial-style building.
A stop here is worth it just for the photo opportunities.
We visited Tacama on our Pisco and Wine tour, but you can also visit just on your own. You can catch a taxi or tuk-tuk from Huacachina for around 15-20 soles out to Tacama (about 30 minutes away). Once there, just sign up for an English tour for 20 soles per person. This tour will show you around the facility and ends with tons of wine tastings!
Alternatively, you also book this guided tour from Huacachina or Ica that visits Tacama and one other vineyard for only about 100 soles per person – well worth it in my opinion.
They also have a bar on site where you can order drinks and sit in the garden as well as a store to buy their reasonably priced wines. The garden is absolutely stunning and well worth checking out.
5. Ballestas Islands
The Ballestas Islands are located just off the coast near Ica. These islands are a protected nature reserve and feature lots of different wildlife. In fact, the islands are often referred to as “Peru’s Poor Man’s Galapagos!”
On a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands, you will see the beautiful coastline and cliffs along with wildlife such as sea lions, whales, unique birds like the Blue-footed boobies, penguins, and lots more.
You can visit the Ballestas Islands on a day trip that includes a ride out to the islands by boat. The benefit of visiting from Huacachina is that you are closer to the islands (only an hour’s drive) and therefore tours take less driving time and are cheaper.
Related Read: Did you know, that there is another island referrred to as the Poor Man’s Galapagos just off the coast of Ecuador?
6. Rent a Paddleboat in the Oasis
The Oasis is the small man-made lake in the center of Huacachina. While it doesn’t look overly appealing to swim in (a little bit dirty in my opinion) it would be fun to go on a paddleboat! The Oasis is surrounded by palm trees, bars, and a boardwalk making it an interesting place to explore for a bit!
Just head to the water’s edge and you’ll find the paddleboats for rent. Use your best-negotiating skills as prices are not set and will vary according to demand and how long you want to take the boat out. To me, 20-30 minutes would be enough for this activity. If you really want to have fun, bring a couple of beers out with you and enjoy a cold one on the water.
7. Enjoy Pisco Sours with a view
There are tons of cheap bars and restaurants lining the boardwalk around the Oasis in Huacachina, Peru. Although probably not the most exciting of the things to do in Huacachina, having a Pisco Sour cocktail while people-watching is a relaxing way to unwind after a busy day exploring.
But besides people watching, from these bars you can also enjoy views of the Oasis and surrounding sand dunes. If you go up to a rooftop bar, you’ll be in the ideal spot to watch the sunset!
For such a small town, Huacachina has a very vibrant nightlife. This is partly due to the tourists who stay here and the large party hostel the Wild Rover who hosts huge parties every night. Happy hour starts at 9 pm and from then onwards the crowds just get larger and so does the music.
The Wild Rover prides itself on being a “party hostel” and as such, hosts wild parties every night of the week with pool parties on most days during the afternoons. Wild Rover ends the party around 1 am and then the flock of people will move next door to one of the few nightclubs to party until 4 am (or later!)
Honestly, it sounds ridiculous to come to a relaxing Oasis to party, but it is really one of the best things to do in Huacachina and many tourists visit strictly for this reason.
*Tip: If you really want to party a lot in Huacachina then stay at the Wild Rover. They offer both budget dorms and private rooms with ensuites. They also have an affordable onsite restaurant and huge gorgeous pool with tons of lounge chairs. Just be warned, the music doesn’t stop until 1am and it is loud making it hard to sleep before then!
You can book the Wild Rover Hostel on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
9. Fly over the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are one of Peru’s most famous tourist attractions. This ancient ruin displays massive shapes and images drawn into the ground that can only be seen and appreciated from up above. This is why you must do a flight over the Nazca Lines to really see them.
The advantage of visiting the Nazca Lines from Huacachina is that it is much closer than most other destinations tourists visit from. From Huacachina, the Nazca lines airport is only 2.5 hours away whereas people visiting from Lima can expect a 7+ hour journey.
You can also book an hour-long flight straight from Ica that flies directly to the Nazca Lines! This is the fastest and easiest way to see them. However, it is pretty expensive.
You can even take a public bus to Nazca from Ica and then just book a 30-minute flight which is the cheapest way to see the Nazca Lines!
10. Hike to the sunset Viewpoint
The viewpoint overlooking the Oasis with sand dunes in the background is the most famous photo of Huacachina. In fact, you’ve probably seen it plastered on postcards or advertisements several times by now.
However, you can actually hike to this viewpoint in a short 20-30 minutes on your own!
All you need to do is head to where all the dune buggies are parked. Once in Huacachina you will see them in the sand up on the hill, it is impossible to miss. Once there, turn right and walk up the sand dune past a large water tank. Keep walking until you’re at the top. Chances are, there will be tons of other people doing this hike for sunset so you can also just follow them!
While you can hike to this viewpoint at any time of day, I recommend sunset as it will be much more enjoyable when the temperature cools off. Plus, who doesn’t love a good sunset view?!
Related Read: If you like to hike, be sure to visit the Colca Canyon. Read our review of the best Colca Canyon tours before you go!
11. Enjoy dinner in the desert
Looking for a fun evening activity in Huacachina for your group? Then you simply have to do this dinner in the desert experience! Surrounded by sand dunes, you will have a beautiful cooked meal and bottle of wine to share.
For about 350 soles per person, (minimum of 4 people) you will be transported out to your dinner in the desert. Food is included and so is a bottle of wine (per two people.).
This experience is only offered on Saturdays, but it is highly rated and often fully books, so be sure to book in advance.
For an even more exciting, unique experience you have to try glamping – luxurious camping – in the desert. This is a super-cool overnight tour where you will stay in a luxury tent in the sand dunes. The tent is complete with a double bed and all of the other modern compfrts you’d expect in a hotel room, like bedside tables and a bathroom. You will be provided with dinner with a private chef and waiter, as well as breakfast in the morning.
This activity in Huacachina isn’t cheap though, and you can expect to pay about $450 USD per couple for this overnight tour.
Where to stay in Huacachina, Peru
If you plan on spending a night or two in Huacachina there are a few places that stand out above the rest. Here are the best places to stay in Huacachina (for every budget!)
Wild Rover – Budget Hostel
The Wild Rover is the best place to stay in Huacachina if you’re a backpacker on a budget who likes a good party. Although a “party hostel” they have really amazing facilities including a cheap bar and restaurant as well as a massive pool!
Desert Nights Ecocamp – Mid-range Budget
This is a unique place to stay as you’re actually in a large tent sheltered by a roof. Think of it like a “glamping” experience as you have a proper bed and proper bathroom just no air conditioning or hard walls. They also have a beautiful pool on site!
Hotel El Huacachinero – Luxury
There aren’t many luxurious options in Huacachina, but Hotel El Huacachinero is pretty close. They have suites with air conditioning and also have a gorgeous pool and onsite restaurant. The location is also super central and perfect for exploring the Oasis.
Important Tips for Visiting Huacachina, Peru
- Bring lots of cash with you! Most places in Huacachina only accept cash (including hotels and hostels) and the ATM’s in town charge a ridiculous fee of 19 soles per withdrawal of 300 soles!
- Pack lots of sunscreen! The sun seems to always be shining in Huacachina and for that reason, the small shops charge a lot for sunscreen.
- Wear runners (sneakers) on the dune buggy tour. You do a bit of walking for the sandboarding portion and the san is hot on your feet if you wear sandals.
- Buy/bring a buff. This you can use to cover your mouth on a dune buggy tour or even just walking around the Oasis if it gets really windy.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you have an amazing time in Huacachina and that this blog has helped you plan your trip! Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
Be sure to check out all of our Peru blogs as well as some of our favorites below:
- Miraflores, Peru – A complete guide to exploring Lima’s most popular neighborhood
- Puerto Maldonado – Everything you need to know about the Amazon jungle in Peru and visiting from Cusco
- Everything you need to know about trekking in Peru – Complete guide to preparing for hikes and treks all around Peru