Memorized by a sea of sand, I've found a new sport to dabble in.
What is the deal with (bad) Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and buses in Latin America? I swear that every long-haul transport I've been on plays at least one. My bus from Máncora to Lima tortured me with four, terribly dubbed Van Damme movies, back to back. If I see In Hell one more time, I'm gonna loose it.
Busing towards Ika, I was fixated on the amount of sand I was seeing outside of my window. It was like the driest, most sandy parts of Arizona collided with the Pacific Ocean. Small wooden huts were scattered around the countryside—no power, no water—it was almost as if someone just walked up to a patch of sand and said, "Sure, this will do."
I was in absolute awe looking at the oasis town of Huacachina, just a few kilometers outside of Ica. As I casually sipped on a cup of tea, chatting with my Peruvian traveling companion (for the next week) and taking in the sight of massive sand dunes all around me, I couldn't help but feel like I was in the Sahara Desert, or somewhere in the Middle East.
Dunes shift, and I'm truly amazed that the tiny town isn't completely engulfed by a migrating mass of sand.
Dune buggy tours and sandboarding—think snowboarding but with less sophisticated equipment—outfits are numerous (and very profitable). For S$40 (US$12.50) I took an evening ride with six others through the desert, complete with several sandboarding sessions—worth every penny; one of my South American highlights.
The buggy ride made me want to own one of these fun, caged vehicles, so that I could tear through mountains of sand every other day for the fun of it—not a bad profession either. The sandboarding was great, and I've found yet another way to hurt myself (not too bad though, just a scrapped knee and a bruised rib or two).
I discovered that wax is critical in sandboarding, without it you aren't going anywhere fast. Sadly most of it rubs off at the top of the dune, so that by the time you're 3/4 of the way through the ride there's entirely too much drag.
The adventure concluded at sunset. Sand literally got everywhere; I think I dumped half a dune out of my shoes. Late afternoon in the desert, at the tail-end of winter in Peru, is a fantastic, temperate, time of year to frolic in the sand.
Over 200 fun photos taken —enjoy those that made the cut.