Sandy, Sandy Huacachina


This tiny oasis in the desert is a stop on most backpackers’ itineraries. The town consists of a handful of hostels, restaurants and artisan stands. There really isn't much to do in Huacachina itself aside from relaxing on a hammock and drinking pisco sours. So why does it attract so many people, you may ask? Well, for one thing, it is a good stopping point between Lima and Cusco. But the real reason people stop here is to go sandboarding.

Yes, you are imagining correctly – it is just like snowboarding… but on sand. Well, you don’t have proper bindings or boots; but it is more or less the same.

This was my second experience sandboarding in Huacachina, and it was much different. We stayed at the same hostel, took the same dune buggy, and even saw the same driver I had two years before. The difference was in the size of the dunes.

Two years previous, the dunes they took us on were massive. In fact, my friend and I both sprained our wrists, another friend broke her foot, and a guy in our group blew out his knee. If you were about to embark on something this dangerous in America (or in many other countries), you would at least have to sign a waiver. But here in Peru they just took our money, then we buckled our makeshift seatbelts on the dune buggy and headed off on a crazy ride. 

I was a bit apprehensive as we headed into the sandy horizon. I was imagining hiking the Inca Trail with a broken foot, but to my relief, the first dune was much smaller than my last time there.

Ben and I both waxed our boards and strapped our feet into the Velcro “bindings” – if you can call them that – and rode down the hill. We went to several dunes, which got progressively bigger – but nowhere compared to the mountains during my first time there. (I did hear rumors that there were several injuries and they eventually had to start bringing tourists to smaller dunes.)

Regardless, we still had a blast, and came away from the experience injury-free – albeit a bit sandy!