The desert oasis

Itinerary:

  • Cusco – Nazca
  • Nazca – Huacachina
  • Peru Hop Bus

It had got to the point where I was absolutely sick of sorting out buses and decided to book Peru Hop, a hop-on hop-off company running from Cusco to Lima. The bus left Cusco at 7pm and I had a total of 23 hours to go until I reached my destination of Huacachina. Given my emotional state and can’t be bothered attitude, I can’t say I was massively looking forward to it. However, needs must.

There’s nothing particularly exciting to report about the bus, other than the unbearable pressure in my ears given I’d come from 3000+ m down to sea level whilst sleeping. At 1pm the next day we were dropped off for lunch at a quaint little beach town. Well, more village, with one restaurant where the entire bus went to eat. Opting for pollo saltado, a kind of chicken Chinese stir fry that went down a treat, it was great to be back in the sun and by the coast. I got to know Deirdre and Cormick whilst at lunch, a funny Irish couple who were loosely following my route for the next few days.


Mid-afternoon we finally reached some form of civilisation after scooting through endless coastal nothings. This was Nazca, made clear by the endless advertisements of flights over the Nazca lines. The flight wasn’t something I had money for but included with my bus was entry to the viewing tower. From the top, you could see three of the Nazca lines. No one knows their origin and reason but still it was pretty cool to see the large drawings in the desert that have been there for 2000 years.


Eventually we reached the oasis town of Huacachina at 6.30pm. I was tired and grumpy but excited for the location. Huacachina is teeny tiny. It used to be an oasis lagoon in the middle of huge sand dunes and the dessert. It still is that, although the lagoon is now pumped to keep it topped up.


I was staying at Banana’s Hostel. It seemed like an expensive option online but included a dune buggy and sand boarding tour which is exactly the reason I came to the town! The hostel was great too. Cute little pool, great food, great drinks and atmosphere. I even bumped in to Floss, Lettie and Willa once more and a lovely girl called Katie in my room. We all ended up having dinner together and laughing about our Cusco escapades.

I’d come down with a cold and head to bed about 10ish, waking myself up because I either couldn’t breathe or had been snoring, like the attractive woman that I am. Luckily for me, the 4 guys in my room seemed to be completely out of it when I woke up and I prayed they hadn’t silently judged my unattractiveness whilst I slept!

Breakfast was fantastic. I sat by the bar, which was right by the pool, with a massive crate of fruit salad, yoghurt and granola, served with a passion fruit juice and coffee. Honestly, this hostel was a dream. The wifi was even good enough for me to catch up on Made in Chelsea. I can’t leave certain home comforts behind me! Following my wonderful start to the morning, I chucked on my bikini and sat by the pool, catching up with some of my little munchkins from home. It was fab to be back in the sun and attempting to regain a tan of some kind too.

There are some tours included with Peru Hop and a vineyard tour where they make Pisco, Peru’s national spirit, was one of these. At 1pm, I head off to meet everyone else and we went out to Tanana vineyard. An extremely enthusiastic guide named Enrique, obviously, because everyone Spanish speaking needs to be called Enrique, led us around. It wasn’t very long but we did get to try a few varieties of Pisco and some homemade ice cream before we left.


Just like everything in Latin America, we were extremely behind schedule and stuck in traffic. This made me so late for my dune buggy tour, the one thing I’d come here to do! I rang ahead begging them to wait for me and ran off the bus to my hostel. Luckily they’d been angels and there was the buggy, with one seat left for me.

I strapped in with a seatbelt akin to that of a rollercoaster and off we went to the giant dunes that encapsulate the town. I was so thankful for these seatbelt within minutes of entering the sand. We were thrown all over the place, jumping over sand hills, racing up the steep sides and flying down them again. It was a lot of fun, although my bum and shoulders were sore and a million times I thought we’d roll over in the buggy!


As we topped another hill, anticipating a crazy drop the other side, our driver came to a halt. Out he hopped and fished in the back to produce a sand board for each of us. I’d done dune boarding in New Zealand and was keen to just go for it whilst a few others freaked themselves out at the top.


Before long, I was lying belly first and the guide pushed me off and down I flew! I met Nikita and Amelia on this trip. We kept going first for each dune and laughing at how pathetic a group of other girls were being. When I say pathetic, I don’t just mean fannying around about coming down the dune but also participating in “sexy” photoshoots in the dunes. Very laughable.

We had so much fun sliding down these massive dunes, some as high and long as a short ski run! It has to be said that I didn’t love the sand everywhere, and it really did get absolutely everywhere. I also wasn’t so fond of the impossible “one step forward, two steps back” experienced when walking up each dune. But still two hours that I’d do over and over again if I could! A must do!


Back at the hostel and after a quick dip in the pool to de-sand, I hopped in the shower then sat down with the two girls and their two friends that I’d met on the tour. We had a nice meal before we all went off for various buses that evening and even had some mutual friends from back home. I was thankful for meeting some lovely people of Banana’s after I left my travel bestie behind in Cusco.

So, 166 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and, although short but sweet, Huacachina was a lot of fun with some awesome people. I spent much of my time laughing, a morning tanning, an afternoon flying and 24 hours in a desert oasis. Such a cool little place!

Gabby x


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