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6 Activities For an Unreal Day in Huacachina, Peru

Sarah Lempa

Chicago, IL, USA

Ample sand boarding ops and surprisingly hopping nightlife are the tip of the iceberg (sand-berg?) when it comes to what makes Huacachina oh-so special. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that visiting this lively desert oasis is one of the best things to do in Peru. If sipping on a pisco sour in front of a chilled-out lagoon sounds like your ideal afternoon unwind, this article was written for you.

Try these 6 activities on for size:

Explore the Dunes on Foot

Oasis in Huacachina, Peru.

Welcome to Huacachina: a place where your childhood sand castle dreams would have run absolutely rampant. The undulating dunes present a considerable hike — but the sense of accomplishment from climbing a massive sand dune yields some major bragging rights. If scaling a towering dune isn’t quite your cup of tea, you can leisurely stroll around the oasis and still take in the sights. Huacachina’s whole town area can be explored in about an hour, so you just might decide to venture into the sand once you’ve walked a full loop.

Hop on a Dune Buggy

Dune buggy in Huacachina, Peru.

Nothing quite says sheer lunacy like strapping yourself into a doorless vehicle operated by someone with a questionable sandy death wish — but in Huacachina, it’s pretty commonplace. The buggy drivers have a knack for surprising (terrifying?) riders by gunning it down steep drops and slamming harsh turns, often resulting in a group of teary-eyed laughing passengers. Some may laugh, some may cry; either way, you’ll never forget this rollercoaster of a ride. So buckle up, hold onto your belongings tightly, and trust the buggy boys.

You can easily grab a seat on a group tour upon arrival for as low as $15-20 USD, including sand boarding. If you book your whole Huacachina excursion with a tour group such as Peru Hop, the experience will be included with your transport.

Try your best at sand boarding

Huacachina, Peru: Sand boarding
Sand boarding in Huacachina, Peru.

There’s nothing like sand in new places…especially after careening down the dune on a slippery plank of plastic with a look on your face that screams amateur. Most buggy excursions include this activity and you might be peer pressured if you try to get out of it, anyway. The best practice: completely wing it and revel in endless laughs when your new friends completely wipe out half way down the dune. If two-footed balance isn’t your forte, try bodyboarding, it’s like taking a rest on a high-velocity rock hard mattress.

Grab a beverage and have a swim

Banana’s Adventure Hostel, Huacachina, Peru.

Several of Huacahina’s hostels double as bars and have pools — truly the only suitable way to spend the late afternoon hours seeing as your options are either A) even more sand or B) booze and swimming. If you fancy a dip, you can access these hangouts by buying a snack or a drink…or two or three. After all, pisco is a part of the Peruvian experience, folks.

Banana’s Adventure is a hostel featuring a cabaña style bar, poolside of course. Neighboring Wild Rover Hostel boasts a bar, restaurant, and the main pick up point for dune adventures — somewhere you might end up at inadvertently. The pool is a laid-back hangout during the day and turns into a nightclub after hours for those who haven’t yet lost all energy from dune-fueled cardio. The Upcycled Hostel is about a ten-minute walk out of the main area with colorful décor to complement the nonstop radius of tan hues in the area.

Pedal boats in the oasis, Huacachina, Peru.

Circle the oasis by boat

If you’ve never circumnavigated a desert oasis on a sun-bleached pedal boat in the middle of the Peruvian desert…what have you been doing with your entire life? Hire a pedal boat by the hour and take in the sights. Admittedly, the water isn’t nowhere near swimming material, but gliding across the lagoon is a worthwhile event — tiny as it is.

Take a seat on a dune for the sunset

Sunset in Huacachina, Peru.

Let’s be real, you owe yourself a shred of serenity after all that buggy and board madness (or maybe an Advil before any bruises set in). Some of the dune tours will conclude around sunset, giving you the opportunity to perch yourself for a sunset with a view of Huacachina and the rolling desert backdrop. With travelers and locals alike, the shared awe of the landscape draws a considerable crowd each night without failure. Party on the dune; you’re invited.