Is Huacachina Worth Visiting? A Backpacker’s Guide To Peru’s Desert Oasis

Huacachina is a place like no other. Mountainous dunes surround a town built around a calm desert oasis. It's a place where you'll find incredible sunsets, see dune buggies flying through the air, and hear the screams of backpackers sandboarding down dunes - all topped off with some of the wildest nights out in Peru. Here's a backpackers guide to why Huacachina is well worth visiting.

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Is Huacachina Worth Visiting?

Huacachina is well worth the trip, especially if you haven’t seen a desert oasis before. And the best part is, you only need a day or two to see everything it has to offer.

 

Here are 3 reasons why Huacachina is well worth visiting:

 

  1. It’s has one of the best sunsets in Peru
  2. Incredible adventure activities
  3. Great party hostels

1. It Has One Of The Best Sunsets In Peru

Huacachina is set in the middle of the desert and is surrounded by sand dunes the size of small mountains.

 

There is one huge dune behind the Wild Rover backpacker hostel which is where you will get the best view of the desert. Each evening you can see backpackers trekking to the top to watch the sunset.

 

The view from up here is incredible and you can see the rolling dunes for miles. Once the sun starts to set you will be treated to a rare sunset of constantly changing colours as the dunes turn from yellow to orange to red and then finally purple in the twilight.

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2. It Has Peru's Best Adventure Activities

Huacachina is the perfect town for backpackers who love adventure activities.

 

If you are looking catch some serious air in a dune buggy and sandboard down some of the tallest dunes in South America then Huacachina is a must.

 

The dune buggy and sandboarding are usually paired together in the same tour. The driver will speed across the dunes and catch some serious air flying over the top of them. Your heart will be in your mouth before landing safely back on the ground – don’t worry, the suspension on these things is incredible.

 

After a while you will stop at the top of a tall dune and start sandboarding. This is a fun activity, and you can also pick up some serious speed. You can go down on your belly or standing so no need to worry about skill.

These two activities are some of the best you will find in Peru.

 

If you still need further inspiration as to why you should visit this incredible country, the post below has lots of other reasons why:

 

 

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3. It's Full Of Great Party Hostels

After all the adrenaline fuelled activities, the only thing left to do in Huacachina is party the night away at some of the craziest party hostels in Peru.

 

The Wild Rover chain is renowned across South America as one of the best party hostels and the one in Huacachina is no exception. Start the night off here with beer pong and loads of other party games before heading to one of the clubs.

 

This will be one of the best nights out whilst backpacking through Peru.

For the full list of my favourite party hostels across South America, be sure to check out the post below:

 

 

 

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How Many Days Do You Need In Huacachina?

I would recommend two days and two nights in Huacachina.

 

This gives you one day to enjoy the dune buggy tour and sandboarding, and then a second day to just relax by the pool and then climb the dunes to watch the sunset.

 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two day itinerary for Huacachina:

 

  • Day 1 – Arrival, dune buggy/sandboarding tour and a night out
  • Day 2 – Afternoon by the pool and watching the sunset from the dunes

Get in, tick off all the adrenaline activities, have a night on the town and then get out. With the oppressive heat of the desert and the not-so-great state of the town itself, after two days you will have done everything, and will want to and be on your way.

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Day 1 - Dune Buggies, Sandboarding And Partying

Your first day is the best day to get your fill of adrenaline in the form of riding dune buggies across the desert.

 

I’ve listed my favourite accommodation options further down in this post, but if you’re staying at Banana’s Adventures, they offer a free activity if you decide to book with them. Make sure to pick the buggy and sandboarding tour as this is a great deal (they usually cost around $20-30).  Try and get on the sunset tour, leaving around 5:00 PM.

 

If you’re not staying at Banana’s, the best option is to head to where all the buggies are located on the main street. You’ll be able to find people wanting to fill tours, and the trip should cost below $30. Make sure you haggle with them to lower the price.

 

The tour will last approximately 2 hours, and following the adrenaline rush, it’s time to head back to the hostel for a beer to calm you down.

 

If you want to party, then why not start with drinks at Wild Rover. The famous party hostel has a pool, large bar area and beer pong tables, and it’s a great place to start off the night before heading out into town to one of the random clubs.

Dune Buggy And Sandboarding Tour - What to Expect

Just be warned, the buggy drivers are crazy.

 

I was flying over dunes at high speed and going up and down like it was a rollercoaster. It’s one of those experiences where you can’t stop laughing even if you’re feeling a little unsafe.

 

After racing around the dunes for a while, you will take a break for sandboarding.

 

For novice’s, sandboarding means flying down dunes on your belly. If you’re a snowboarder, then give standing up a go, but a word of warning; the foot loops are not secure, and I saw some epic fails for those attempting to stand up.

 

Here are some useful tips for what to bring and wear: 

  • Make sure your buggy seatbelt fits and works before the start of the tour
  • Secure all your belongings or hold onto them very tightly during the drive
  • Avoid taking valuables other than a camera
  • Wear a face covering such as a buff if you’re belly boarding, saves you getting a sandy mouth
  • Wear sunglasses as the wind can be strong and will blow sand in your face
  • Wear closed-toe shoes rather than flip flops to avoid sand burns 
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Day 2 - Pool Day And Climbing The Dunes For Sunset

The beauty of Huacachina is that there’s not a huge amount to do on your second day. You will most likely have a raging hangover so you can take the time to chill and recover

 

Have a stroll around the town, which will probably take all of 20 minutes and then chill by the oasis or the hostel pool. Relax, catch some rays, read a book, whatever it is you want to do. But the nearer the pool the better as the desert heat is intense.

 

If you’re feeling active or don’t have a hungover, you can go on a Pisco tour in Ica. Pisco is the famous drink of Peru and Ica has many vineyards for you to try it out. Peru hop lead tours, but otherwise, you can shop around in Huacachina or just grab a taxi back into Ica and go from there. Two notable vineyards are Tacama and El Catador.

 

You can find tours for around $20 on sites such as Get Your Guide:

 

 

 

Once it gets to around 4:00-5:00 PM, you should start heading up one of gigantic dunes which surround the oasis. Climbing to the top takes a good 45 minutes and is harder than it looks so be warned.

 

At the top the dunes you get an amazing birds-eye view of the oasis as well as being able to see Ica off in the distance. The desert creates an incredible magenta sunset that’s unforgettable. Take a few beers up with you as it’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink as you watch the sun disappear behind the dunes.

 

That should have you covered for Huacachina. I’d be lying if I said it’s one of the better cultural stops in Peru, but it’s not one to miss simply for how much fun it is. 

Travelling other countries in South America apart from Peru? See how you can cross the border into Bolivia to turn this month into an extended South America backpacking trip:

 

 

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The Best Hostels In Huacachina

In my opinion, there are only three options for the best backpacker hostels in Huacachina: Banana’s Adventure, Upcycled Hostel and Wild Rover Huacachina. 

 

The main reason I’ve picked these three is that they all have pools which is essential in the desert heat. However, they are all great hostels in their own right with a social atmosphere, helpful staff and nice dorm rooms. 

1. Wild Rover Huacachina

Reasons to stay here:

 

  • The best party hostel in town
  • Big pool

Wild Rover has a reputation for being one of the best party hostel chains in South America.

 

If you’re looking for a great social scene with an even better party – this is your place. The nights are wild, and it’s a great place to meet other travellers.

 

A night in the biggest dorm room (14 beds) costs around $12 but there isn’t much difference in rooms. If you want one with less people, then a 6 bed dorm costs around $13. 

 

All the rooms have big pod style beds for privacy and large lockers. Just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in to. The music can be loud, and if you have a dorm near the pool, then you won’t be getting a lot of sleep.

 

Luckily when I was there, I had a room at the front of the hostel and could hardly hear the noise.

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Wild Rover Huacachina

2. Banana's Adventure Hostel

Reasons to stay here:

 

  • The best deals on activities
  • Good sized pool
  • Great food

 

Banana’s Adventure has a more laid-back vibe and is my preferred option of the three hostels.

 

The rooms are small, but there’s a large social area downstairs to relax. They also have sun loungers at the top of the buildings if you’re looking to work on your tan.

 

The food here is fantastic with so many options, and the menu is filled with traditional Peruvian dishes as well as home comfort foods if that’s something you’re missing. A night costs around $23 but includes a free activity for each night you stay.

 

If you’re looking to party, then stay at Wild Rover. However, if you’re looking to choose when to party stay at Bananas.

 

On top of being away from the crazy, you also have a great bonus of a free activity every night you stay with them. This may include the dune buggy tour or the BBQ they have each night. You can enjoy the relaxed vibes here and then just walk over to Wild Rover when you fancy a night out.

Banana Adventures has everything you want from a hostel – great atmosphere, nice rooms and lots of activities to make it feel social.

 

It will always make it into my overall top list of hostels in South America. For more great hostels across South America, check out the post below:

 

 

Banana Adventure Dorms
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3. Upcycled Hostel

Reasons to stay here:

 

  • Brand new hostel with a great aesthetic
  • Spacious double rooms for couples
  • Pool

This is one of the newest hostels in Huacachina, so it looks fantastic! All the rooms are completed to a high standard, and everything is super clean.

 

An 8-bed dorm is $12 a night.

 

The outside area is covered in grass and it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax. There’s a small pool and lots of shaded areas with sofas and loungers if you want to escape the sun. All the reviews mentioned how helpful and friendly the staff are and it seems like they are all expert cocktail makers as well.

 

This is the only hostel on the list that is just outside of Huacachina – a 10-minute walk away along the main road that enters the oasis.

 

For some this may be ideal, but for others you may want to be in the centre so just check the map first before booking.

Upcycled Hostel
Upcycled Hostel Dorm

How To Get To Huacachina

How To Get From Ica To Huacachina

Big buses can’t enter the town of Huacachina so wherever you are coming from, you will be dropped off in Ica which is a 10-minute drive away.

 

From here you will need to take a taxi. The taxi should cost $2-4. Make sure you agree a price with taxi driver before hand as they have a habit of trying to rip off backpackers.

How To Get From Lima To Huacachina

Huacachina is a 5 hour bus ride from Lima.

 

Buses will take you to the bigger town of Ica where you’ll then need to take a 10-minute taxi to the town. The only bus that takes you straight in to Huacachina is Peru Hop.

 

Buses from Lima cost less than $15 and there are several public bus companies to pick from. I went with Cruz Del Sur due to them having the best reviews.

 

You can book your bus online or turn up on the day. I’d recommend booking online just to be safe.

 

Here are two online booking sites to use whilst in Peru:

 

  • Red – is specifically for Peru – the app works well, and there’s no need for physical tickets
  • Bus Bud – is an international company that we used a lot travelling around South America

For more information on transport from Lima, best hostels, activities and more –  check out the backpacker guide below with everything you need to know:

 

 

How To Get From Paracas To Huacachina

The bus journey from Paracas to Lima takes 2 hours. The big buses will stop in Ica and you then need to take a taxi.

 

However, you can also find smaller minivans which will take you straight to Huacachina. These cost around $7.

 

For more information on getting transport from Paracas, check out the backpacker guide with everything you need to know:

 

 

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How To Get To Arequipa From Huacachina

The journey from Huacachina to Arequipa is over 750km and takes around 20 hours via bus so your best option is to take a night bus.

 

Again, you will need to go into the town of Ica and book on to one of the buses. There are several different terminals so book through Busbud or Red and then take a taxi to whichever terminal you need.

 

For more on Arequipa, check out the backpacker guide with everything you need to know:

 

 

How To Get To Cusco From Huacachina

You will need to take an overnight bus from Huacachina to Cusco. The road distance is 785km and the bus takes 23-24 hours.

 

 

This is a long journey, and I would recommend breaking this up if you can. You could stop off in Arequipa for a few days or even stop at Puno to see Lake Titicaca.

 

If you need to see an itinerary, then the post below will give you some ideas on the best way to navigate Peru:

 

 

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How Much Does It Cost To Visit Huacachina?

For a two-day, two-night stay in Huacachina, it should cost you $70-80.

 

It should cost around $30-40 for two nights’ accommodation in a hostel depending on where you stay. If you stay at Banana Adventures, for two nights that’s $46 but you get free sandboarding and dune buggy tour on one day and a free BBQ on the second so that’s a good amount saved.

 

This means you have $30-40 to spend on food for two days and then a night out.

 

For more on budgeting for Peru and South America in general, head to the post below:

 

 

Where to next after Huacachina? If you are looking to do an extended South America tour and include more countries then be sure to check out our expertly crafted itineraries below:

 

 

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