Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Our bus came to pick us up directly at our hostel that morning. We jumped in the bus and drove a few hours until Paracas, where we stopped for lunch and for the first tour of the trip. For 50 soles, we did the 2h boat tour and ride to the Ballestas Islands.
These islands are Peru’s own version of the Galapagos and you will ride around the islands and see tons of wildlife. Be ready for the smell and lots of bird poop falling down on you – I would strongly recommend bringing a small poncho or at least a hat that you can easily wash afterwards. I ended up putting my soft rain shell on as we got to the islands and I’m glad I did, because it would have stained my other layers otherwise.
On the way to the island you will also see some Nazca lines in the sand, pointing South (like the Cruz del Sur), as well as some salt mines where Peru gets a lot of the salt they export to Canada. My favorite thing was to watch all the pelicans fly around and dive rapidly into the water to fish. There were dozen of them near the dock where we boarded the boat and I was more excited for those than the sea lions on the islands. Mind you, we see a lot of seals and sea lions back home, so anything knew sparks my curiosity a bit more!
After the boat ride we had about 45min to get some lunch and hop back on the bus. We drove all the way to Huacachina, where we had just enough time to check-in at our hostel before getting ready for our afternoon tour. The Sand Buggy and Sand Boarding tour was 15US for about 2h and is totally a MUST if you are in the area. You can even push it and do it as a day tour from and back to Lima if you want, but this definitely was a highlight of our trip.
The buggy part is probably the best, as the drivers are completely crazy and take sharp turns and go downhill to get your adrenaline going. I am actually scared of speed so it was a mix of love and hate for me, but this is definitely something I will remember.
The boarding was done mainly on our tummy to make sure it is safe. If you are an experienced boarder, you can rent proper gear at your hostel before heading on the tour, but the board they lend us otherwise are NOT designed to stand up. A few people got badly injured during this tour because they didn’t listen to their guides directives and wanted to go as fast as possible, and trust me you don’t want a concussion or a broken arm in the middle of the desert in Peru.
That night, we stayed in Huacachina and slept at the Banana’s Adventure Hostel. They actually offer a free tour or free BBQ included in your stay, so after the sand dunes tour we stayed on the beautiful outdoor patio (basically right outside our dorm) to have drinks and dinner. We chatted with other travelers and the staff and it was a great evening. The morning after, our bus left only around 1PM, so we took time to walk around the oasis (avoiding sandy areas, we were basically just starting to get clean again from the sandboarding…) and had lunch at the hostel bar. The food was delicious and the prices were good. Keep in mind this is an oasis in the desert with nothing else around, so yeah, you can expect to pay a bit more for your 24hrs in Huacachina.
Our next stop – Nazca lines and Arequipa! Stay tuned!