June 05, 2009

Sand, sand and more sand

The tiny oasis town of Huacachina was never on our travel radar. We'd never even heard of it, let alone added it to our list of South American destinations (yes, I have a list). But a few Facebook pics of Geoff and Alex hitting up the nearby dunes soon changed all that.

On further investigation, it turns out that the Peruvians are so proud of this patch of sand, it's on their 50 Soles note, and unbeknown to us, the backpacking set (or BPs as Craig calls 'em) flock there in droves for one thing and one thing only – some serious sandboarding action.

Not wanting to be the only backpack-lugging, wrinkled T-shirt-wearing, bargain-hunting westerners in all of Peru not to glide down the massive dunes, we altered our itinerary and caught an overnight bus from Arequipa for a few days of sun and plenty of sand.

We managed to haggle ourselves a room in some pretty plush digs, complete with an oversized pool, for 50 soles per night ($AUD 21) and set about discovering what this teeny town had to offer.

Turns out, not a lot. Sandboarding and overpriced food is pretty much it.

So we did what any good tourists would do – we ate... and we sandboarded!

Each afternoon a convoy of rip-roaring dune buggies propel the town's eager tourists out onto the dunes. Ripping up and down the giant mounds of sand full throttle, with little care for safety, is all part of the fun – think rollercoaster meets dirt rally.

Then comes the sandboarding – the more wax, the better. The fatter you are, the better. The louder you scream, the better.

Forget trying to stand up. Sure it looks cool, but flat on your stomach is the fastest way down. Once you've had your adrenaline fix – and your shoes, pockets and everything in between are full of sand – it's time to take a breather and watch the sun set over the dunes.

Huacachina – the place to go for a good time, not a long time...