Backpackers Guide to Huacachina – Peru

Huacachina guide

Huacachina is a village in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru. Huacachina is built around a small natural lake or oasis and is a popular destination for sand boarding and dune buggy tours. From Huacachina you can also take tours to the Ballestas Islands (poor mans Galapagos). This blog covers things to do in Huacachina, places to stay and other travel tips.

Things to do in Huacachina

Take a sand buggy/sand boarding tours: This is the main attraction in Huacachina and is one not to be missed. I recommend taking the 4pm tour, as you will get to enjoy the sunset over the magical sand dunes. I love adventure packed activities, sand buggying definitely gave me a satisfying adrenaline fix.

Sunset over the sand dunes in huacachina

Sunset sand buggy and sand boarding tour in huacachina

You can book these tours through your hostel. They cost between 30 and 50 soles. All tours are relatively the same so go for the cheapest option. You will most likely get it cheaper through a tour company. Remember, it is always negotiable. 

Hire a sand board: For around 3 soles an hour,you can hire a sand board and hike the dunes and board down. Hiking the dunes is exhausting so you will probably only spend 2 hours doing this.

Hike the sand dunes: From the sand dunes above Huacachina you can get magical photos of the Oasis town and Ica.
Peru things to do in peru

Check out the local Markets: Like every town in Peru, you will find colorful and cheap markets where you can buy souvenirs and gifts. You could explore all the markets within an hour, as they are very small.

Tour the Ballestas Islands from Huacachina: If you wont be stopping in Paracas, take a tour to the Ballestas Islands from Huacacina. The Ballestas Islands are also known as the poor mans Galapagos, a great place to see penguins, seals and birds. I recommend the Islands as an alternative to anyone who cant afford the Galapagos Islands. If you are or have visited the Galapogas, I would skip the Ballestas Islands as I can imagine you have already seen everything and much more than the Ballestas Islands have to offer.

Penguins on the Ballestas Islands

Rock Formations Ballestas Islands

Seals and birds Ballestas Islands
You could tour the Ballestas Islands in the morning and be back to Huacachina in time to take the 4pm Sand Buggy and Sand Boarding tour.

Tours to the Ballestas Islands can be booked through your hostel or a tour agency and cost 60 soles. You also have to pay 12 soles for taxes once you arrive at the port. All tours are basically the same so don’t waste time shopping around.

If you are spending a night in Paracas, check out my Paracas destination guide.

Recommended trip length

I recommend staying in Huacachina for 1 night. There isn’t alot to do except sand buggy and sand boarding tours which you can do in one afternoon.

Getting to and around Huacachina

Take a Cruz Del Sur bus to the town of Ica. From Ica take a taxi for no more than 8 soles to Huacachina. Everything in Huacachina is within walking distance.

Where to stay

Options are limited to about 5 hostels.

Desert Nights Hostelling International: is where I stayed. This place offers cheap beds and has everything you need, a restaurant, bar and the receptionists can book all tours listed below. It definitely isn’t the nicest hostel I have stayed at but it was fine for 2 nights. Take earplugs.

Banana Adventures: Was highly recommended to me and has the best reviews, although it is significantly more expensive. In saying that the cost of the accommodation includes the sand buggy tour. If you can afford it, try Banana adventures and let me know what you thought.

Search for cheap accommodation options here.

Other Tips

Try and go to a supermarket before you get to Huacachina as food is very expensive. If you stock up on some bread rolls, fruits and salads and muesli bars you will save yourself some money.

See more from Peru here. 

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