Luscious sands, dune buggies and sand boarding
We were up at 5:15am to catch our bus from Miraflores, Lima to our next destination, Huacachina. Early starts and early nights definitely became a theme during this holiday.
We travelled with PeruHop which is said to be the safest way to travel around Peru. Our experience with PeruHop could not be flawed. The buses are air conditioned, you are provided with a blanket, the seats recline for sleeping and there are toilets onboard if needed. My favourite part of the PeruHop experience is the excursion stops along the way. This really helps to break up the journey and allows you to see and experience the less known attractions of Peru. We took the Lima to the Canyon route which stopped at Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca and Arequipa. PeruHop offer a variety of different routes which also include Puno, Copacabana and Cusco. We arrived at our first stop Paracas at around 10am. We then had the option to join the Ballestas Islands tour for an additional 50 soles pp (£12.20). This tour involves a speedboat ride out to the Ballestas Islands where you can see various species of birds such as penguins as well as sea lions and some incredible scenery. We then made our way to Huacachina which is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited.
Huacachina is a desert oasis and a tiny village west of the city of Ica. The village is surrounded by vast dunes with silky smooth sand. Here you have the option to hop on a dune buggy ride which look quite reckless but i’m sure extremely exhilarating or you can rent a sandboard and practice your skills ready for getting back on the snow. Instead, James and I walked to the top of a large sand dunes to capture the most perfect view of the village below. We recommend heading up there for sunset with a beer in tow.
We only spent one night in Huacachina and as much as it was just less than 24 hours, it was enough. There isn’t a great deal to do in Huacachina besides drink numerous cocktails and party at the Wild Rover Hostel. We went for Pisco Sours at Desert Nights bar which has a rooftop terrace and took advantage of their happy hour. In Peru happy hours are extended for much longer than 1 hour, it’s great! We ate at the Wild Olive which was recommended by PeruHop. We didn’t find any particularly fancy restaurants in Huacachina and the Wild Olive sufficed with a pile of buttery garlic bread and cheesy- choose your own topping-pizzas. We stayed at La Casa de Bamboo. The hotel and B&B options are limited here and you really need to embrace feeling like a true traveller and be content staying in a sub-par room. La Casa de Bamboo did the trick but we were pleased to only be staying one night.
The following morning we woke up and went to Banana’s Adventure hostel across the road for breakfast in a tropical courtyard by the pool. We had a simple breakfast of fruit, granola and yogurt but after feeling like we had carb loaded since the holiday began, this was a sweet relief. We took another trip to the top of the sand dunes and after watching some teenagers lose their frisby and run like track stars down the steep hill to catch it, we thought we’d follow. Walking/jogging down was a lot of fun and feeling your feet and ankles sink into the sand was heavenly.
After a few pre-journey beers we left Huacachina and headed to a Pisco vineyard. The tour was very informative, the weather was glorious and we tried a variety of different wines and pisco. We bought a bottle of a Leguma liquor which was delicious. The liquor is also said to have the same effect as viagra if you consume too much, I can assure you this isn’t the reason we bought it! We hopped back on the bus and our next stop was to view the Nazca Lines. There is an option (with another PeruHop schedule) to take a flight over the Nazca Lines where you can see them in much greater detail. After standing in a long and windy queue we stood on a tall platform to look down and we were fairly underwhelmed. We wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see the Nazca Lines however if you’re passing of course take a look. They are extremely famous and well known and the mystery of how they were formed still remains today. After stopping for dinner we began our long bus journey to our next stop Arequipa. We left around 7:30pm to begin our overnight bus journey to Arequipa. PeruHop make the journey as comfortable as sleeping on a bus can be. The seats recline, you have a blanket to keep you warm, they dim the lights and you can close the curtains. The main problem with the journey is it’s an extremely bumpy ride so you don’t have the best night's sleep but this was expected.
Next stop: 3 Days in Arequipa