We flew to Lima from Máncora (technically we took a bus to Piura and the flight left from there), spending just one short day managing to squeeze in a walk along the steep cliffs and through the modern neighborhoods of Miraflores and Barranco. Mathias’ main goal of the visit was to eat some ceviche, which we managed to do, and also stuff our faces with a lot of other traditional Peruvian food at a big buffet.
From Lima, we took the very fancy Cruz del Sur bus to get to Huacachina, an oasis in the desert just outside the city of Ica. We were lured by the promise of sandboarding and crazy roller-coaster like dunebugging. Huge sand-dunes all around the tiny oasis made it feel like we were in the middle of a desert, although we were actually just 5 minutes from Ica!
Our first day we climbed up on the ridge of the largest sanddune. Turns out walking up a sanddune is an exhausting workout – it was so so warm and we didn’t bring any water, so Tuva started to see hallucinations in the sand! And walking down again is surprisingly painful as the superhot sand submerged and burned our bare ankles with every step, causing a rapid and not so elegant descent.
The main activity in Huacachina is dunebuggy and sandboarding tours. The dunebuggy ride was like a roller-coaster with the driver going very fast up and down various very steep slopes that did not seem to be made for driving at all! Sandboarding looked very scary, going face-first on a wooden board down a steep hill, but turned out to be great fun – Mathias even mastered standing on the board down the entire slope!
Most of the tours are in the afternoon, timing to the sunset and less heat in the sand dunes. However, our tour was just over an hour and felt a bit rushed and short. Looking back there were some tours that were a bit more expensive, but lasted for 2 hours, allowing for more time to sandboard and see the dunes.
The area around Ica is also known for wine and pisco (Peru’s national liquor), we visited two artesan bodegas (Lazo and El Catador) and one industrial bodega (Tacama). They were very generous with the tastings and had a lot to try so we were definitely getting a little tipsy. Knowing we had a 17-hour busride that same afternoon to get to Cusco we declined more pisco at the final bodega – and we’re pretty sure that was a good idea :)
See more of our pictures from Peru here.