From Lima we jumped on a PerúBus to Ica for 30Soles each (~£6.50) don’t pay more! No need to book online, like most things in South America we just turned up at the Soyuz terminal. It takes around 5 hours, a bit stop start.
Huacachina is a ten min taxi from the bus terminal in Ica. It’s a small oasis full of restaurants and hostels and surrounded by huge sand dunes. You can lap the place in 5 minutes, it’s tiny! It was quite busy as it was the weekend, plus all Peruvians are starting to go into holiday-mode with their Independence Day fast approaching (28th July).
We settled into our hostel (Huacachina backpackers hostel) and rewarded ourselves with Pisco Sours, and adopted another Dutch friend called Toon who we basically forced to stop reading and come have a drink with us. The three of us had a really fun evening, Pisco cocktails, more card games, and food at a place called Huacafuckingchina. Excuse the language it’s in the name.
The following morning we both woke up bleary eyed, fully clothed, and not feeling so fresh. A sky light in our hostel room was like Satan burning down on us and we had the creakiest bunk bed ever. Toon on the other hand wasn’t hungover…by the time we emerged, he’d been for a run up the sand dunes, animal!!
We forced ourselves to walk up a sand dune to sweat out the alcohol and the view was amazing! Then we nipped into town to book our bus to Cusco for the next day. We had hoped to head to Arequipa next, but the roads were still blocked from a previous earthquake.
Back in Huachachina, our buggy tour to go sandboarding started at 4pm (30 soles each, and you just book it through sellers on the street). Tip – opt for the 4-6pm afternoon slot as it’s too hot otherwise and this way you get to watch sunset!
The buggy ride was MENTAL, our driver Bladimir did not hold back! We loved it, and were in stitches the whole time. The buggy careers up, down, and along steep dunes, it’s like a freaky rollercoaster that you might be flung from.
We were taken to 4 different dunes for the sandboarding, each one higher than the last. The first one was very nerve-wracking, but we just went for it, throwing ourselves head first down the dunes. We tried to keep our mouths shut to avoid getting sand in them but we couldn’t help the screams of fear!
Vineyard Bodega Lazo, was a hidden gem, just outside Ica on Calle Reyes (kings street), near many other vineyards. This particular vineyard was open late with a huge open air bar/dance floor. All beautiful wooden furniture. We’d definitely recommend going there with a group of friends to enjoy the delicious wine, pisco, and dancing. You can get 2 gallons of wine for 50soles, just over £10!!
Bladimir showed us round and we must have tasted about 10 different wines and piscos. We then ordered a jug of our favourite…you’re given a plastic beaker of wine and a shot glass and then you take turns drinking. It’s very social but quite strange!
Tipsy, we returned to the hostel and collected our bags. Our bus was at 00.30, with bus company Palomino. We arrived and were told the bus was going to be 3 and a half hours late…noooooooo! So, Emma set up camp and slept on the cold floor, while I played google translate with the terminal keeper…tienes ojos muy bonitos…you have beautiful eyes. Stop it Mr. terminal keeper!
The bus finally arrived and our 19hr journey began…