The Desert Oasis of Huacachina, Peru: Everything You Need to Know

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How many times have you read or heard of the meaning of an oasis? a pleasant source of water and nature in the middle of the desert, where nothing can grow or live. Sounds like it comes straight out of a fairy tale, right? Well then, welcome to the desert oasis of Huacachina, Peru!

Luckily for all of us, you don’t need to take a long trip to the middle of nowhere to find these spots. Huacachina is pretty easy to get to, and isn't too far from the main highway that runs along coast of Peru.

This small, but beautiful gem is a great place to  relax and enjoy some unique activities. Its name means ‘little screaming boy’ based on the folklore story of Henry Cobb. So come and check out this peculiar location. Let's jump right into everything you need to know about visiting the desert oasis of Huacachina in Peru.

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Where is the Desert Oasis of Huacachina Located?

The desert oasis of Huacachina is located a little inland from the west coast of Peru, a few hours south of Lima. The closest big city is Ica. Peru is conveniently located in the center of South America, between Ecuador and Chile, with other neighboring countries including Brazil and Bolivia.

How to Get to the Oasis of Huacachina in Peru

Huacachina is conveniently located just under 4 km away from the city of Ica. The city of Ica is easily connected by bus to many main cities in Peru, such as Lima, Naza, and Arequipa.

The oasis of Huacachina is 4 hours away from Lima, and 2 1/2 hours from Nazca. So it can even be done as a day trip from Lima or from Nazca. However, we do suggest spending at least one night.

Want to book your bus to Ica? Here are a few popular routes:

How to Go from Ica to Huacachina

Upon arrival to Ica, you can choose to take a taxi, a tuk tuk, or to walk. The taxi ride is 10 minutes, and costs a few dollars. While the tuk tuk takes a few minutes longer, and is a little cheaper.

For those that don't want spend anything, and want to get some steps in, the walk is around 45 minutes. This is best for those that don't have a lot of luggage, and don't mind the sun beating down on them.

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Visiting Huacachina on a Tour

There are many cities that take day trips to Huacachina, including different activities as well. 

Here are a few tours from different cities around Peru:

Entry Requirements for Peru

Before planning a trip anywhere new, you'll need to keep in mind the different requirements for entering into that country. Here's everything you need to know for traveling to the country of Peru.

Visa Requirements for Peru

The majority of nationalities from countries in the Americas and Western Europe can visit Peru visa-free for up to 183 days in total. The only thing you'll need to enter the country is your passport, which needs to valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. Citizens from ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilChileColombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay may visit Peru with solely their national identity document. If you'd like to know whether you need a visa or not, you should check with the local embassy.

Another thing we suggest is getting your yellow fever vaccine, as it can be a risk in this area of South America, and is required in many countries throughout the continent.

Covid Requirements for Peru

Peru is still requiring travelers to be fully vaccinated, and if not to have a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of their flight. Make sure to have your vaccination card on you at all times, as some places will require it in order to enter their establishments. Also, you should make sure to carry a mask on you, as it's still required to wear one on public transportation throughout the country (updated December 2022).

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Local Adjustments for the Oasis of Huacachina, Peru

Whenever you visit somewhere new, there are things that may be different from home. These are what we call local adjustments. Here are the different local adjustments for Huacachina in Peru.

What Language is Spoken in Ica, Peru?

The official language in the desert oasis of Huacachina is Spanish. Peruvians speak pretty clearly, so they are quite easy to understand in comparison to some of the nationalities from surrounding countries (such as Chile for example).

Being a fairly touristic spot, Huacachina has plenty of people that do speak English. However, it certainly helps to speak Spanish so that you can get better deals and avoid potentially getting ripped off.

Local Currency of Peru

The currency used in Peru is the Peruvian Sol. Each 1 USD is equal to about 3.71 Sol at the moment (April 2024). Being a small town, most establishments only accept cash. We suggest taking out plenty of money from the ATM beforehand.

What Adapter Do I Need in Peru?

The outlets in Peru support plug types A & C. Plug type A is the one with two flat pins (the same as the US uses), and type C which has two round pins ( the same as those used in Europe). The standard voltage in Peru is 220V, with a frequency of 60 Hz. It may be a smart idea to bring an electrical adapter, as the outlets can vary depending on the place.

Water in Huacachina

The water is generally not safe to drink anywhere in Peru, so we suggest sticking to bottled water, and bringing a refillable water bottle to continually fill up with a larger jug. It's important to buy a lot of water since this is a desert and can get extremely hot.

Tipping Culture in Huacachina & Peru

The tipping culture in Peru is a standard 10%, and they are always expected to be in cash.

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Things to Do in the Oasis of Huacachina, Peru

Huacachina is pretty small, but there are still quite a few ways to enjoy the tiny oasis. Here are a few ideas of things to do in the desert oasis of Huacachina, Peru.

1. Sleep in a Party House

You can easily do everything Huacachina has to offer in a day trip, but we strongly recommend you to stay overnight. This is for two reasons; to enjoy both the breathtaking sunrise and sunset on top of the sand hill, and to sleep in a hostel with a good party reputation.

We Stayed in Wild Rover, a hostel with several locations throughout Peru and Bolivia. You can go for a drink, relax at their pool and enjoy their daily activities and parties. This really adds to all the breathtaking activities Huacachina, Peru has to offer.

There are more hostels in the oasis, with different levels of tranquility, food, and rooms. We think that this kind of accommodation is a big plus to exotic destinations. However,  we can guarantee there's a place for every type of traveler, so feel free to choose from the map below:

2. Hike the Dunes for Some Stunning Views

It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to hike to the very top of the hill, but it’s worth it. You will be able to see the desert on one side, and Ica on the other. Sunsets and sunrises up there are pure magic.

You can see the sun sinking into the desert, while the tiny city starts to light up. This is also a great time to walk up as the temperatures start dropping, and you don’t have to worry about burning yourself with the sand or the heat.

sunrise at the desert oasis of Huacachina Peru

Both the sunrise and sunset are beautiful in Huacachina.

We recommend you to find the paths people use to go up, because if you decide to just face the hill and hike anywhere, you will find yourself tired in the blink of an eye. Trust us on this one, because we did it the wrong way at first.

Bonus track? when you go downhill, do one first long step and let the sand guide you through the fastest run of your life. It’s truly liberating, and it’s also a good exercise.

3. Rent a Boat

The reason why you went to an oasis is because there’s actually water in it, right? Then why don’t you enjoy it by renting a canoe or a pedal boat? You can have a romantic moment while accompanying the ducks swimming right next to you. 

Even though the oasis of Huacachina is not so big, we promise you it feels amazing to be floating surrounded by kilometers and kilometers of sand. It is not an every day experience for sure! 

4. Ride in a Dune Buggy 

All around the oasis of Huacachina you will see travel agencies offering you excursions in buggies. The good thing is that the oasis is not that big (you can literally walk it in less than an hour) so you can check prices to see which one suits you better.

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Buggies in the desert are a great experience. You will go for one (or two) hour/s through the dunes, and feel the adrenaline running through your veins. Plus you will be in a group so you will make friends along the way.

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Want to book an excursion in a dune buggy? Here are a few that we've found:

5. Go Sandboarding

Another great excursion offered in Huacachina, Peru is sand boarding. This is often something you can also do during a buggy tour. Just make sure you inquire while you're booking.

If you don't feel confident standing, you can also slide down the dunes by sitting on the board.

For both the dune buggy and sand boarding, we recommend you to do it early in the morning. This is because it gets really hot in the middle of the day, and the sand can burn your feet. 

Make sure to count the time you are actually on the excursion. It happens sometimes that drivers give passengers to each other, in order to only use their buggies when they're filled. This movement may take some of your time away. Always claim for what you paid for!

Here are some excursions that include sand boarding:

6. Go For a Swim

You can actually dive into the water that lets this place be a day dream. According to local legends, the water and mud of the area is therapeutic.

Both locals and tourists often bathe in the waters or cover themselves with the mud in an attempt to cure ailments such as arthritis, rheumatism, asthma and bronchitis.

Even if you don’t believe that it could help cure you, swimming is always a relaxing, healthy option for exercise, isn't it? Swim into the middle of the oasis, float facing the sky, and think to yourself "I'm floating in the middle of an Oasis". It's a powerful thought, for sure.

oasis of Huacachina

Swimming in the oasis of Huacachina is a great way to cool off and relax.

Getting Around the Desert Oasis of Huacachina in Peru

Huacachina is tiny, and the whole thing can be walked very easily. If you have a lot of luggage though, you can always find a tuk tuk that can take you from one end of the oasis to the other.

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Food & Drink in Huacachina

There are plenty of food & drink options around Huacachina. However, being that Huacachina is pretty touristy, there are a ton of authentic restaurants in town.

We did however very much so enjoy the Wild Olive Trattoria and Guesthouse. If you're looking for more local Peruvian food though, we suggest saving some of your bigger meals for the city of Ica.

Is Huacachina Safe?

While you'll have to be extra careful in certain parts of Peru, Huacachina is not one of them. The tiny desert oasis is full of tourists, and very tiny, so there is very little crime. We do suggest keeping an eye out for your belongings while in Ica though, as it is a bigger city, and has a lot of connections coming from other big cities throughout Peru.

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Tips For Visiting the Oasis of Huacachina in Peru

This gorgeous oasis may be near a city, but it is in fact still a desert. Here are some tips for visiting the oasis of Huacachina.

Weather in Huacachina

As Huacachina is a desert oasis, it is very dry, hot, and sunny during the day, with cool and windy nights. It's important to drink a lot of water so that you don't dehydrate.

The Best Time to Visit Huacachina

The best time to visit Huacachina is in the cooler months, from May to November. This way the daytime is much more bearable, and you won't burn your feet on the sand.

Packing for a Trip to the Desert Oasis of Huacachina

Make sure to bring a good sunscreen, as the sun is strong. A hat, towel, and bathing suit, are also important to have. Another thing to keep in mind is that the sand can get very hot, so make sure to wear proper footwear.

Packing List for Huacachina

  • Sunscreen
  • Towel
  • Hat
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Flip Flops (we personally always get Havaiana flip flops, as they are comfy and long lasting) 
  • Sneakers (for during the day)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings) - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Bathing Suit
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and has incredible quality)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Travel Adapter
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Take Care With Electronics

The wind can easily carry the fine sand, making it risky to have your electronics with you. Make sure to properly cover them, and to take extra care so sand doesn't get inside.

sand dunes in Huacachina Peru

The sand dunes are endless in Huacachina. Make sure to properly protect yourself from the sand and sun.

Is the Oasis of Huacachina Worth Visiting?

The oasis of Huacachina in Peru is a truly unique place to visit. Being just a little over 3 1/2 hours from the capital, it is definitely worth taking the trip over there. It can be done as a day trip, but we prefer to spend a full night (or maybe even two) to enjoy it with time.

is the oasis of Huacachina worth visiting

The oasis of Huacachina is a truly unique place, and definitely worth the visit.

Not every day you find out you have such a unique place so close from a city and with so many cool things to do. If you are traveling through Peru, we seriously recommend you to do a stop at the oasis in Huacachina.

We want you give you all the info you need for your trips, so if you're traveling through South America, we got you! Check out our other South America travel guides more beautiful destinations on this continent.

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