Golden Thrills in Huacachina, Peru

with 24 Comments

“You want to hear the story about Huacachina?” I wasn’t sure what to expect from this lady who approached me, saying that she’s a direct descendant of the Incas. Since it’s important to be open-minded, I nodded. “Sure!” I smiled expectantly. “You see the lagoon in front of us?”

 

From afar, the Peruvian desert town of Huacachina shimmered like fire. It looked as if the oasis was surrounded by dazzling whiteness. But as we neared Huacachina, the sand scenery revealed itself to be steeped in golden waves of sand and circular dunes. The town looked lush with palm trees and harangos.

 

 

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“So, this is how the legend goes… There was once a young Inca princess called Huacay China. She had beautiful green eyes and thick black hair. One day, while carrying a jug to the fountain, she encountered the young warrior Ajall Krina. He was fearsome in battle and very proud. They fell in love and promised each other to never be separated.

 

However, one day, an emissary from Cusco arrived to send the best warriors to war up north and defend the Incan throne against the rebels. Ajall Krina fought fiercely and killed many, but finally succumbed himself. On hearing the news, the princess fell in despair. Her beloved one was dead. There would never be another happy day in her life. Inconsolable, she returned to the fountain where they had met and wept endlessly, day in, day out, until one day a lagoon had formed with all her tears. She then jumped into the water and turned into a mermaid. Legend has it that each new moon night, Huacay China’s lamentations can be heard, as she emerges from the lagoon to mourn her beloved one.”

 

The Incan descendant paused to watch my reaction. She must have noticed that I was emerging from a dream-like kind of state. “You like my story?” “Yes, I do. A lot. Thank you so much for sharing this legend with me!” I suddenly realized I had been so absorbed by her tale that I hadn’t noticed the constant roar of the dune buggy engines. Those monster cart engines that we were supposed to take in a few minutes. I thanked the woman again and ran after Mei, who was already heading to the sound of whizzing.

 

 

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I must confess that I knew we would have fun zipping around the gigantic desert dunes for an hour. But I had not expected to have SO MUCH fun! The dune buggy excursion was a wild ride! When we climbed into the vehicle right next to the driver, I wondered why there were security belts like you would expect them on roller coasters. I imagined we would be driving fast, but a regular safety belt would be sufficient to keep us safe.

 

A tingle of excitement spread through my body. I glanced at Mei, who was camouflaging her mouth and nose in a bandana. For a second, I wondered whether she had told me everything about this ride, whether she was aware what was really ahead of us. But before I could ask her, the driver jumped into the buggy, started the engine and stepped hard on the gas. We literally made a leap and instantly sped towards the desert.

 

As we ascended the first dune, I was still convinced that this was going to be a mild adventure. How wrong I was! A few minutes later, I was screaming my lungs out as we were making almost vertical drops. The composure of the driver stood in shocking contrast to the pulsing of my ear-piercing screams. Actually, I have never screamed so loudly in my whole life. And I have never had so much fun doing it too!

 

 

As we raced, motor struggling, up to the crest of each sand hill, the driver would slam the brakes, let gravity tip us, and blaze the engine again so our heavy bottom wouldn’t send us toppling to our death. We drifted through an amber-golden sea of sand. The cerulean sky seemed to melt into the slopes of sand-walls in the distance. As far as the eye could reach, the desert stretched and seemed to absorb us with each drop, only to spit us out again like a lion playing with its prey.

 

In addition to zipping around the gigantic desert dunes, the tour also included sandboarding. The driver hit the brakes again and we stumbled out of the buggy, still gasping and gaping. He hurled a few freshly-waxed boards in front of us and asked who would go first. I must confess that I quickly turned to admire the dazzling panorama.

 

Huacachina oasis in Peru © Travelwithmk.com
Huacachina oasis in Peru © Travelwithmk.com

 

While an Australian lad lay belly down and got ready to glide down the sand mountain, I listened in to the deafening sound of silence. When he finally started sliding, we could literally hear every crunching of every single sand grain.

 

I brushed Mei’s hand and realized that she too was connected to the infinite golden silence. We can only imagine how easily the sand dunes transport Huaca China’s weeping on new moon nights…

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Golden Thrills in Huacachina, Peru © Travelwithmk.com

 

Golden Thrills in Huacachina, Peru © Travelwithmk.com

Follow Kerstin:

Traveler - Storyteller

Kerstin is a 30-something French teacher, born and raised in a tiny Luxembourgish village, but who used to live in Bordeaux, Paris, Athens and San Francisco with her wife Mei. Fluent in 5 languages, she's above all a huge book enthusiast, a fervent writer and storyteller, and could never refuse a good old single malt whiskey. Oh, and she also loves coffee and chocolate (not sure in which order though).

24 Responses

  1. Juliette
    | Reply

    Love the story. And what a great way to capture your attention in the beginning of your adventure! Dune buggies are so much fun! You handle them so roughly through everything and just generally have a blast! I’d love to do a ride like this through Peru though – that would be spectacular.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you Juliette! If you plan to visit Peru, you should definitely add Huacachina to your itinerary! 😉

  2. Vyjay Rao
    | Reply

    The story of Huacachina sounds so fascinating. The golden sand dunes seem to stretch to infinity with a mystical aura. The legend associated with the place is so interesting. The desert has a kind of wild beauty that seems to come alive in Huacachina.

  3. Yukti
    | Reply

    I live in a place where desert is just a stone throwaway from my house. I would definitely to see the Peruvian desert to check whether all deserts are same or they have some difference. An oasis within a desert is looking awesome and you have taken a stunning shot of it.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Wow, how cool to live near a desert! We’ve only been to some North American deserts, a few semi-deserts in southern Europe and now the ones in South America. So we can’t say if they ressemble the deserts you know or not, but Huacachina is definitely worth visiting when you go to Peru!

  4. sunsetsandrollercoasters
    | Reply

    What an incredible experience! I would love to visit Peru and our kids would just love the dune buggies and sandboarding. How fun!

  5. Susanne Jungbluth
    | Reply

    Peru is one of the goals I really want to see. So far, I’ve only ever heard of mountains and trekking. From a desert and a lagoon I read for the first time. I’m thrilled to meet something completely new again. And the legend is just great. I love hearing such stories about places. Thank you!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You’re welcome Susanne! We didn’t know about the Huacachina desert and oasis neither before we planned our trip. But when we found out about it, we decided to add it to our itinerary no matter what, and are so glad we did!

  6. Sage Scott
    | Reply

    When I think of Peru, my stereotypical impression is far, FAR from the amazing photographs you’ve shared here. Thanks for opening my eyes and expanding my horizons!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Haha.. you’re welcome! Hope we inspired you to visit Peru and especially Huacachina with this post!

  7. trimmtravels
    | Reply

    I was so excited to read this post! This is one of the things I didn’t get to do while I was in Perú last year and desperately want to do. I had planned to try to go again in December, but that didn’t work out so now hoping for next spring. That is quite an interesting story behind Huacachina and I would have become entranced in it as well. The oasis is such a beautiful site…the color of that water in the middle of such a huge desert. I would love both the dune buggies and sandboarding! Glad to know you had an awesome time!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Oh you must go there next Spring for dune buggying and sandboarding! And you’ll see that the oasis of Huacachina is really charming. 😉

  8. Navita
    | Reply

    The Peruvian desert town of Huacachina looks magical! Peru has so much to offer. Fascinating to read and learn about the legend stories about a place we visit as they add a new meaning. Dune rides seem like an adventure trip here and would love to try it out when we visit Peru!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, Peru is such a wonderful country with so many various landscapes and magical places with a rich historical background! When you plan your trip to Peru, don’t forget to add Huacachina to your itinerary. 😉

  9. Chasa Fulkerson
    | Reply

    The story was definitely intriguing. I would love to do a dune buggy ride and sandboard! It all sounds pretty exciting!

  10. Lauren Pears
    | Reply

    Wow, I did not expect to see a landscape like this in Peru! It looks beautiful and sounds like you had an amazing visit! I would love to try dune buggies one day – definitely going to keep this place in mind when I eventually get round to visiting Peru 🙂

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes Lauren, add Huacachina to your bucket list! You’ll love it. 🙂

  11. Rhonda Albom
    | Reply

    It sounds like you had a great time dune bashing. The images from Huacachina look like what I would expect to find in the Sahara or the Middle East.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, we had an awesome time dune bashing! The good thing about doing it in Huacachina instead of the Middle East is that we get to experience sand deserts, salt flats, snow-caped mountains and visit Inca sites within a short period of time while we’re in South America. 😉

  12. Danik
    | Reply

    I am hoping to go to Peru very soon (for the main sights like MP) but never heard of Huacachina and would love to check this place out whilst I am there. I love checking out oasis in the desert, there is something about them.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You should definitely check out Huacachina when you visit Peru! It’s so different from the rest of Peru. 😉

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