Huacachina, Peru

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Huacachina, Peru

Throw Your Hands in the Air if You Dare!

Still feeling the adrenaline from June 2012

“Wow!” It was the only word worthy of expressing my first view of Huacachina, a quick fifteen minute ride from the small city of Ica. Our taxi arrived at the desert oasis nestled between the monstrous sand dunes and dropped us in town. Every available accommodation lied within walking distance of our arrival, allowing us to secure a large dorm room with some friends with little effort. The small body of water in the heart of the small oasis competed for our attention with the towering sand dunes, each of us in our small pack of travelers gazing with our heads tilted back in awe of their staThe oasis Huacachina, Peruture.

With little else to do in the small serene town, we were looking forward to our next bold adventure, the same reason most travelers visit Huacachina. Sand boarding proved to be far too difficult for us to ignore, enticing us to discover the reason so many others had raved over the experience. Luckily, we found the perfect Dune Buggy driver for the following afternoon, choosing to spend sunset in the desert hidden by the peaks from our usual vantage point. The excitement of strapping into the off-road machine and screaming up and down the dunes nearly prevented me from sleeping that evening, truly anxious for the sun to rise once again.

After what seemed like an eternity of practicing patience, the time had come. We gathered outside our guesthouse, giddy at the idea of climbing into what awaited. As our driver emerged behind us, he granted our entry, each of us hopping over the bright red panels and securing our shoulder harnessing in our race car style seats. I looked up above me, wondering how often the yellow roll cage had prevented others from certain death while tumbling down one of the dunes. I looked to my left, pushing a soft breath of relaxation through my outstretched lips and grinning at Jessie. My knees shook slightly with anticipation as the driver fired up the engine behind our seat, rendering us nearly incapable of screaming over its volume as we tore up the first dune and obtained our first view of the vast desert we were about to explore.

In the buggy Huacachina, PeruThe expression on my face froze briefly as I captured the sight in my mind, only to be replaced with a look of shock as I stared nearly straight down the other side of the dune while our driver pounded into the gas pedal. Every member of our group gripped the seats ahead of them or the roll bars to their sides, screaming with a mixture of delight and terror. My stomach lifted into my throat as we dropped without warning, listening the shrieks of the others. “Aaaaah!” “Oooh shiiiit!!!” “Oh my Gaaaaawwwwd!” I could scarcely control my laughter in response to the voices around me, bouncing in my seat and fighting against the pull of my body weight shifting as we bounced off the base of the hill.

Sand flung violently from the rear wheels as we once again climbed a nearby dune seemingly too steep for our ascent. The peak provided a wide enough platform for our driver to stop, leaping from his seat and smiling at our looks of excitement. We piled out behind him, collecting our boards typically used in snow and walking to the edge of the peak. With one glance I quickly determined that standing on the board wasn’t an option for me. My lack of grace and overall sense of balance rivaled that of a drunken paraplegic. I couldn’t help thinking how grateful I was for my better sense of judgment after watching the first dare devil in our group attempt a standing run.

Huacachina, Peru SandboardingThe tip of his board dug into the sand, much less forgiving than the soft powdery snow he had been accustomed to back home. He flipped backwards in and instant, landing on his back and slamming his head into the hard surface. The thud and loss of breath escaping his lungs was felt by all, responding with a resounding “oooooo” as we covered our mouths. His fate had sealed the decision for the rest of our group, easily convincing us to lie down on the board and skid over the warm sand while clenching our lips to avoid a mouthful of grit.

One by one we flew down the intimidating dune to the sound of our boards scraping over the rough grains of sand. I struggled to keep my lips together while clutching the bindings of the board, racing downhill and kicking up a trail of dust in my wake before sliding to a gentle halt at the base. I leaped with adrenaline, finally able to release my joy for all to hear as I shook the sand from my clothes. I turned in response waiting and anticipating Jessie’s arrival.

After enough coaxing courtesy of our adrenaline junkie driver, she finally secured herself on the board as he held it in position. The sound of her run would never be forgotten as she braved a mouthful of suffocating sand. A submerged whale may not possess the same lung capacity. From the moment she began to the very second she skid to a stop next to us, her blood curdling scream could be heard with absolute amazement. We burst out in laughterSandboarding Huacachina, Peru as she lifted herself and spit repeatedly. I dare admit, I nearly soaked my pants as I dropped to one knee and fought to regain my composure.

We wiped the tears from our eyes and once again secured our positions in the buggy. The intensely loud engine bellowed with each suppression of our driver’s foot, powering us to every peak effortlessly. Every sudden drop down the opposite side of the slope forced shouts of enjoyment until finally coming to rest slowly atop the highest dune we could find just in time for sunset. I wrapped my arms around Jessie as we gazed out into the vastness, appreciating natural beauty we’d never seen in all our travels.


  • Tom Flynn

    Hard to beat that experience, ard with all of the beauty surrounding you. 2 thumbs up for Nate and Jess!

    January 22, 2016 at 6:24 am
    • nhunt0330

      Thanks Tom, glad you enjoyed the read!

      January 23, 2016 at 10:41 pm


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