Huacachina Oasis: Updated guideline
There are landscapes that are never forgotten and one of them is the Huacachina oasis. The incredible view of the oasis from the dunes of the Peruvian desert; when in the afternoon the sun sets over the west and the lights in the town come on, it’s a sensation that thrills to the bone.
Huacachina offers much more than just incredible views. One of the main attractions of this oasis is the possibility of entering the desert for sports like sandboarding and dune buggy; that mixes adrenaline with beautiful views of the oasis.
1. How to get to Ica?
Huacachina oasis is one of the most popular destinations in Peru. However before to get here, you must get to Ica; which is the closest city to the Huacachina oasis.
There are several places, from where you can travel to Ica (only terrestrial transport). Between the safest bus companies l took and I can recommend to you, are:
- Cruz del Sur…. direct link to its website https://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/
- Movil bus…. direct link to its website https://www.movilbus.pe/
- Palomino …. direct link to its website http://www.grupopalomino.com.pe/
- Oltursa…. direct link to its website https://www.oltursa.pe/
I list all the options from where you can come from:
- If you would like to go by bus from Lima to Ica. The safest buses leave usually from 6 to 10 pm and the trip lasts around 4 hours and a half.
- If you would like to go by bus from Ayacucho to Ica. The buses leave between 8pm and 10pm and the trip lasts around 7 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Arequipa to Ica. The buses leave between 6pm and 10pm and the trip lasts around 11 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Tacna to Ica. The buses leave between 4pm and 8pm and the trip lasts around 14 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
If you would like to go by bus from Moquegua to Ica. The buses leave between 6 pm and 10 pm and the trip lasts around 12 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Cusco to Ica. The buses leave between 4pm and 8pm and the trip lasts around 18 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Puno to Ica. The buses leave between 4pm and 8pm and the trip lasts around 17 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
We do not have a commercial partnership with any of the bus companies mentioned in this guideline; we are not responsible for any misunderstanding or problem with said companies. The recommendations I make are based on my personal experience.
2. Where to sleep in Ica/Huacachina Oasis?
Wherever you come from, the base point to get to Huacachina oasis is the city of Ica; which is also the starting point for various excursions in Ica department.
In the surroundings of the main square of Ica, you will find from cheap hostels to much more comfortable hotels from 1 to 5 star. If you would like to stay in the Huacachina oasis, there are a lot of hotels in the shores of the lagoon; and it takes 15 minutes by taxi from Ica.
One of the most important things, if not the most important of the trips, is the lodging. Normally this represents 50% or more of your expense and can make your stay unforgettable, in a good or bad way.
To book a hotel always keep the following in mind:
- Access to public transport.
- Free WIFI.
- Room size.
- Treatment of staff.
- Quality of service.
- Read reviews from other travelers.
3. What to do in Ica?
Ica is located on the central coast of Peru, and in addition to the already famous Huacachina oasis; it is also the place from where you can make endless excursions and activities.
3.1. Tacama, the oldest vineyard of South America.
Tacama is not only a brand of wines, piscos and sparkling wines. It is also history, culture, passion and modernity.
You can take a taxi, that takes 15 minutes to get to Tacama (15 to 20 soles per cab). Once there, the tours run every half and hour and the prices are between 25 to 125 soles according the type of tour you would like to do. Once you are done with the excursion, there are taxis inside Tacama; that charges from 20 to 25 soles to go towards Ica.
Tacama is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:30 am to 16:30 pm.
3.2. Buggy/Sandboarding Tour.
Going to the Huacachina oasis and not doing these activities is like not having gone.
- You can hire both excursions with travel agencies, located in the main square of Ica; the price for both excursions plus a tour of the city is 30 soles. They run from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you like, you can coordinate with the agency to stay longer in Huacachina oasis to appreciate the sunset and the incredible lighting of lights in the village; keep in mind if you stay longer you have to pay 15 to 20 soles for the return taxi.
- If you would like to do sandboarding and buggy, for a longer time and explore remote places within the dunes; coordinate with the travel agency for a private tour that will cost you around 70 soles per person.
3.3. Paracas reserve and Ballestas Islands.
- This excursion begins with your pick up from the Ica main square, at 5:30 am. Then you will drive for an hour to the interpretation center of the Paracas Reserve: to then you will visit for an hour and a half the Ballestas islands; where they will be able to observe in addition to thousands of birds, sea lions, penguins, and if you are lucky, dolphins.
After the Ballestas islands you will go to the beach “La Mina”; where you will have free time, for an hour to swim in the beach. Then you go to a nice place within the Paracas reserve to taste the famous “ceviche”, with a beautiful view of the sea.
The cost of this tour is 50 to 60 soles per person and it ends up at 17:00 pm more or less; the only drawback could be English because it is not very well spoken by some guides. So I recommend that you coordinate well with the agency, so that they can join you to a group where everyone speaks English instead of a bilingual group.
- If you like there are also excursions where they combine a two hour excursion in the Ballestas islands with an afternoon visit to the Huacachina oasis; where you will perform sandboarding and buggy.
The price for this excursion is from 70 to 130 dollars per person; depending on whether you are taking the tour from Ica or Lima and also the operator you choose.
- You can also only do the excursion to the Ballestas islands; which has a price of 20 dollars per person. If you are staying in any accommodation on the Paracas peninsula.
There are many attractions that you can combine, check with a travel agency in Ica’s Plaza de Armas or through the web sites.
4. How to get to Huacachina oasis?
As I mentioned above, you can tour Huacachina oasis with an agency and have everything included and organized; or if you like you can go to the oasis on your own, and hire sandboarding and buggy on place.
If you like to go to Huacachina on your own, you can rent a taxi from Ica for 10 to 15 soles. The taxi will drop you off in the small Huacachina town; from there head for about 7 minutes to the dunes where the buggies are located.
Renting sandboarding and buggy activities, will cost you between 20 and 60 soles per person; according to the service and the time you would like to do the activities.
Please stay in Huacachina oasis until night, due to see the sunset and how the lights lightening the village is amazing; to come back to Ica the taxis charge around 20 soles, (they said, we charge more to come back due it is already dark).
5.Important safety tips.
It is not difficult to get to Huacachina and although the place is safe, it is always good to be careful.
- Be very careful with the taxi you take to Huacachina, many taxis in Ica are known to take people to hotels they deal with or try to scam tourist with fake tours and other ways.
- Huacachina is a very small village, bring cash with you as there are no ATM outlets and if you will hire the activities by your own you have to pay in cash.
- Be careful of pickpockets and never carry your passport, debit or credit card unless 100% necessary.
- Bring sunscreen, from 50 DEET or more and apply it at least every one hour and half; Huacachina is always hot and radiation in Peru is even higher than in Australia.