Sandboarding In Peru - What To Expect From Tours Around Huacachina

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The sand dunes surrounding the oasis town of Huacachina really are the cherry on top of the cake in terms of tourism in Peru. As if it weren’t enough to have the Nasca Lines, Machu Picchu, the Andes, the Pacific Ocean and the Amazon, Peru also boasts miles and miles of perfect sand dunes which can be explored by sandboarding and dune-buggying. 

This is therefore a place for adrenaline seekers, somewhere where for relatively little money you can get the thrill of bouncing over mountains of sand before hurtling down them on a small board. It’s fair to say we loved it. For us, the hot climate of Ica was such a positive change from the grey skies of Peru’s high cities and towns and made a more budget-friendly base for going out into the sand, rather than staying in the much more pricy Huacachina. 

In this post we’ll let you know what to expect from a Sandboarding and Dune Buggying tour, what else may be on offer in the region and of course the usual top tips for the area. Enjoy!

We took a car with a few others from the hostel in Ica to Huacachina, where, after a painfully long and confusing conversation in Spanish, we were informed that we had an hour or so to spend around the oasis before we’d start the sandboarding tour. This was a bit of a pain to be honest as we’d spent a lot of the previous day in the town and there really isn’t much to do, so we sat down on the sand and relaxed for a bit as the time passed. 

4:30pm came and we set off in the dune buggy, all squashed in so tightly that the guys on the edge were barely inside. For those of you who are unaware of this particular vehicle, the ‘dune buggy’ is a mad-max style roll cage on wheels which looks like a death trap. We therefore felt a little concerned handing over the reigns to an unknown Peruvian who looked the same age as us, to drive us ridiculously fast over a completely unpredictable landscape. Worries aside though, we had to admit that we were finding dune buggying a whole lot of fun. The driver seemed to know the route well, sending us down sand cliffs taking the buggy almost vertical but never too far. After about 20 minutes of this we stopped at the top of a dune which we were evidently going to be sandboarding down later.

Of course there were a few tough guys who were never going to admit it but it’s fair to say the majority of the group were surprised by the size and steepness of the dune. It seemed that there’d be no practising on the baby hills - big dunes from the start. A little nervous we lined up along the top, then laid down on the boards with our feet dragging behind in the sand, one by one being given an encouraging push downwards. 

Once you get over that ‘first time’ it does become a lot easier. That said it seems I was incapable of turning to keep straight and still managed to roll myself to the end more than anyone else.

It also turns out that this WAS the ‘baby-hill’ and what was to come was a monstrous near-vertical sandy drop. After deliberating for some time, I decided to go down and thankfully remembered to turn with my feet for once. Lissa wasn’t too keen and took the dune buggy around to the bottom with some of the others, which was apparently just as scary as with less people in the buggy they were flying all over the place! 

After taking the time to enjoy the sunset we head back, stopping off along the way to look down on Huacachina lit up as night time fell. Overall it was a great tour and good value too. Here are a few tips and things to consider before doing the tour and travelling to the area.

Things to know before travelling to Ica & Huacachina

Don’t pay more than 5 soles for a Tuk Tuk. So many times drivers tried to rip us off. Although it doesn’t seem like much worth fighting over, paying 10 soles rather than 3 every time adds up.

You don’t need to stay in Huacachina. We originally thought that we’d have to stay in Huacachina to be close enough to easily book tours etc, but we didn’t realise how close Ica and Huacachina are from each other and how expensive it can be to stay in Huacachina. If you’re booking things way in advance we can see a benefit of staying at the oasis as it gets you away from the busy city life, but there are very little options, all of which book up quickly. We’d recommend staying in Ica for half the price and get a 10 minute taxi to Huacachina when you want to.

Can I go sandboarding without a tour?

Yes. You can rent boards cheaply from stands at the end of the oasis but bare in mind this means you’ll have to walk back up all the dunes you slide down which is much easier said than done on the sand. Also the dune buggying is great fun and you’d of course miss out on this.

Staying safe in Ica

Although we didn’t have any problems at all, in our opinion Ica didn’t seem like the safest of cities. We had heard of someone getting robbed at an ATM, so you’re probably best to not go walking around by yourself at night and try to use ATMs in the day.

How much does a tour cost?

We paid 60 soles for our tour which included about 2 hours of sandboarding and dune buggying in between, with stops along the way to take photos of the views and watch the sunset. We didn’t really shop around for this price and it seems that if you go into Huacachina you’re likely to get it cheaper. Most tours leave in the evening so that you can see the sunset over the dunes.

Huacachina itself isn’t the attraction, the sand dunes are!

Lots of people seemed to turn up to the oasis a little disappointed because to be honest it’s a bit naff, 100% touristy and there isn’t much to do. The sand dunes however are genuinely really cool and worth making the trip out to!

What else is there to do?

Other than the sand dunes, the main attraction in the area is to visit one of the many vineyards between Ica and and Nasca. Most hostels offer day tours from Ica and, like most things, don’t need to be booked in advance.

Where we stayed

We stayed in two places across our time here. The first was what most would describe as a party hostel and if that’s what you’re looking for then Ica Adventures 2 is a good bet. The beds were comfy, the WiFi was alright, the showers were hot and the location was just fine. Best of all there was a good vibe, lots of activities going on and there was a decent sized food shop beneath the hostel which was handy.

The second place we stayed in was an Airbnb which we think is also listed as a hostel on, called ‘Dulce Estancia’. Although it seemed like it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, it was as close as you could possibly be to Huacachina (less than 5 minutes taxi / 20 minutes walking) without having to pay the high prices of staying at the oasis. The owner Gloria was lovely and very accommodating. It was really nice to have a pool because the heat in Ica is really strong and at times almost unbearable. This place is a strong recommend from us! 

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask us @allofthegearnoidea on Instagram or Facebook, or alternatively send us an email at

Thank you all for reading, we hope you’ve found the post useful! 

Will & Melissa

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