Huacachina, Peru: 8th – 9th December 2012.
As far as first impressions go upon arriving at hostels, this one was up there as one of the best! We literally got out the taxi, walked through the huge gate (which was really the back gate, but the front opened onto a pedestrian walkway around the oasis that is Huacachina and so was inaccessible to the taxi) and were greeted by the above scene.
Needless to say that I fell in love with the place straight away and that was before I even saw the great bar that they have besides the pool or the sofas and hammocks that they have down the front for relaxing in! Paradise!
So our one night booked was immediately extended to two. We then were told all about the sand boarding that we could do with the hostel that evening and as that was what we had arrived in Huacachina to do, we signed up. Next on the agenda was a spot of lunch at the bar (cheap and tasty) and then a walk around the oasis town to check it out (which didn’t take long). Then it was back to the hostel to relax and settle in a bit more and who should we see in the pool but Lucy and Konrad (who we first met on the Death Road trip) and they were with 5 other people (Alice, Sarah, Rich, Sean and David) who they had since met on their travels. Ace!
At 4.30pm it was time to board the Dune Buggy (DB) and go sandboarding. Alice, Sarah, Sean and Rich were also going so it was great to have more company who we had already met! The V8 that powered the DB was nice and loud so I enjoyed rumbling through the small town to the dune entrance and then was soon whooping with delight as our driver opened it up on the dunes. The ride in the DB was as much a focal point of the adventure as the sandboarding itself with the driver taking us over huge dunes, which as you come over you are looking up into the sky and then suddenly dipping down into the sand on the other side. Great fun! It felt much like a rollercoaster ride and was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the whole trip.
The sandboarding itself was… mental! With hindsight I believe that it was one of the most dangerous activities that we have done. Ever! The first slope was nice and gentle so while Sarah sat on her board to go down, I decided to try standing up. Needless to say I fell, but not heavily and so I climbed back up and tried again and stood up all the way down, which was a great feeling! Next slope was a lot steeper and longer so I think that everyone apart from Sean (who can snowboard so had a proper board and stood on all the slopes) went down on their stomachs and it was fast and fun! Then we drove to the next dune and the slope looked ok, so I decided to stand again. This time I fell head over heels pretty hard, but luckily with no serious injury, just a sore shoulder (that took a few days to pass!). After that I took all the rest on my stomach, which was fine because you could use your feet for stability and braking if you wanted to. The last slope of the day was huge and it was pretty nerve wracking at the top looking down and thinking that we would be going down on a bit of wood, but we all did and it was fun! Sean managed to take a tumble at one point and dislocate a finger, but no one else got hurt. The drive back was just as fun as always and we arrived back at the hostel to shower and try to get rid of all the sand!!
That evening Sarah and I had signed up for the BBQ so we relaxed around the hostel and waited for that and we were not disappointed! The food was tasty, the particular highlight being the chicken, which I put into a roll with some avocado and was in heaven! Later on we went to a restaurant down the road with everyone else who had sampled the BBQ at the hostel the night before. Luckily for Sarah and I they had a good range of deserts. so while everyone else tucked into their mains, we were having yummy sundaes!
The next day was spent largely lounging around the hostel with everyone, alternating between the pool, the sun loungers and the bar, until early evening when Lucy, Konrad and David went to try their hands at sandboarding and Sarah and I took a stroll around the town to see the mermaid and then up one of the more gentle dunes in order to get a good view of the whole town. That evening we went to a different restaurant about two doors down from the hostel and had the worst food ever, everyone agreed that it was poor, so that was a disappointment when we could have been having tasty BBQ. The restaurant also had the wierdest toilet ever because just inside the restaurant was a mens urinal, but there was no partition wall at all so everyone could see and there was a window in front of it that overlooked a small pool that was also in the restaurant. Very strange and we were all glad to leave it behind!
The next day we were all moving on. Alice and Rich to Cusco for the Inca Trail and the rest of us were taking an afternoon bus to Lima so the morning was more relaxing and reading next to the pool and for poor Lucy, who had taken a nasty bump to the head while sandboarding, it was an opportunity to convalesce.
We had had a really good time in Huacachine at Banana hostel and we had survived sandboarding. While we were sad to leave, it was great to have a host of friends to be travelling to Lima with, so it was all good!
P.S. Sarah is still writing about Manu, but it IS coming soon!