Guest Post by: Alex
Jess and I had originally planned to stay in Miraflores on the coast in Lima for Christmas weekend since we had already taken our major trip before starting CCS, but also didn’t want to be in the house for the holidays. Once we got to CCS we learned that people were planning trips for that weekend so we decided to be social and change our coastal vacation to New Years and join the group. About half the group were thinking about going to Nazca for sand boarding on the largest sand dune in the world. After looking into it further we found out that the bus ride is 8 hours (flights are expensive so that was vetoed). Jess being Jess starting looking and found Huacachina just outside of Ica, which is about 4 hours south of Lima. Huacachina is actually known for their sand boarding on the dunes versus Nazca, which is more known for the Nazca lines. Turns out that Huacachina is an oasis town of about ~100-200 people that used to be a destination for the Lima elite around the turn of the century, but the government has recently abandoned it and it has now become known for its sand boarding and partying. The town has two streets and is centered around a lagoon and then completely surrounded by huge sand dunes. We wanted to go there for the sand boarding and relaxing, which was good because since it’s low season there wasn’t much of a party scene at all.
After staying up until our forced 3:45am bus ride (no other options) we arrived in Ica around 9am and caught cabs to Huacachina, which a couple of kilometers outside of Ica. We wandered around the town, which took all of 5 minutes and then joined the group at a random restaurant that would later turn into our go to place. The “restaurant” was an open kitchen (literally open to the air), a bar style seating where we always sat, and some other lounge like tables. It became our regular place because on that morning we watched the women who works there peel and make the most delicious looking fruit salad that also a little bit of yogurt and some corn flake-like things on top. I realize it’s a bit weird to go on about a fruit salad in Huacachina on a travel blog, but it really was the best thing ever. Anyway, that afternoon we went wine and pisco tasting at the local vineyards around the country side. Most of the vineyards are very pretty and definitely not done up/fancy like many of Napa Valley’s. Pisco is one of the things that Peru is known for – it’s a distilled grape alcohol, which is essentially like a brandy and we found out that it does not taste great on its own. That night, Christmas Eve, the group of us hiked up the giant dune behind our hotel/hostel and laid out on the top of it from which you can see all of Huacachina and Ica. It was a great way to spend Christmas Eve though extremely tiring.
The second day, Christmas, was when we went sand boarding from 4:30 until sunset. It’s basically like snowboarding but on sand. What they didn’t tell us was that using a snowboard was very difficult and less fun than simple laying down on a board and going straight down. Either way it was great albeit sandy. People were probably going 30-40 mph down the dunes. I think half the fun was also being driven around the dunes on the dune buggy.