We left the beaches of Paracas and traveled by bus for an hour and half through the barren desert landscape and arrived Ica, Peru in the afternoon. Ica is a city of a quarter million people that lies in the middle of the desert of Peru. We were welcomed at the bus terminal by Luis, the owner of the house we had found through AirBnB. He was kind enough to come to the bus station to pick us up. Once at the house, we met his wife Victoria. She took us to our room, and gave us a tour of their spectacular home. A beautiful 12000 sq.ft Spanish style home with stone floors and tile roof. There were many common areas, including a gorgeous patio along their swimming pool, and a fantastic view of a ten story high sand dune. An oasis itself in the middle of a dusty city. We had to work through our language barrier, but Luis and Victoria made every effort to make us feel at home. We spent a fair bit of time lounging on the patio, enjoying home made chicha (a drink made from purple corn), while the kids spent time swimming in the pool, and played with their dog, cat, parrot and tortoise.
Ica is an area that only gets about 1″ of precipitation per year, and as luck would have it, it rained a little bit while we were there. Ica gets more sand storms than rain storms, so it was pretty cool to see rain in the desert.
We spent one day in Huacachina, an actual desert oasis. We were pretty disappointed with the way it was treated by locals, and tourists alike. The oasis was surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops, and was not kept very clean. Garbage piled up along the cobble stone walkways around the lagoon and the water itself looked quite dirty. We hope people soon realize that the oasis is incredibly special and take better care of it before it’s too late.
The highlight of the day/evening was the dune buggy ride and sand-boarding through the desert. What an amazing experience. We opted for the afternoon tour because it gave us an extra hour of riding, and we got to see a spectacular desert sunset. Our buggy driver was great. He took us on a fun roller coaster ride up and down dunes of all sizes, and stopped a few times to let us sandboard. It wasn’t until people starting going down the dunes face first on their stomachs that we all realize just how high the dunes were. People looked like little ants at the bottom. We went down a total of 4 dunes and we were all covered with sand by the end of it. We found sand for days afterwards.
Huacachina taught us that even in the most barren of landscapes you can find a beautiful jewel to be treasured.
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