Tag Archives: Huacachina

A Sunset to Remember

11 Apr

One of my favourite nights in Peru was definitely seeing a sunset on top of the sand dunes in Huacachina. I love sunsets (who doesn’t?), but this one really stands out compared to most I’ve seen.

Seriously, everyone NEEDS to do this if they’re in Huacachina.

It was one of those moments in my life where I kept thinking I love my life. I love my life. I love my life. It was one of those moments where I felt so privileged to be there in Peru and in the presence of such great people. As corny as it sounds, I wanted this moment to last forever.

It’s not about just seeing the sunset itself. Rather, it was the adventure getting there. The good company definitely helped too.

I’ll explain…

The sand dunes in Huacachina are very steep. So if you want to get to the top, prepare for a difficult climb.

I know this is a ridiculous picture, but I feel like it truly shows how steep the dunes are…

SO steep!

My new friend Chris asked me if I had climbed the dunes for sunset yet. When I told him that I hadn’t, he insisted that my friend J-Lo and I went with him.

He was working at The Pub in town and was getting accommodation, food and drinks for free so he felt that it would be a nice gesture to buy a bottle of rum and a bottle of coke for us to all share during sunset.

Tip #1: Climb the dunes in a zig zag pattern! Chris gave us this tip and it was much easier than just walking straight up.

Tip #2: Obviously don’t drink too much when you know that you need to get back DOWN the dunes at some point, But I definitely loved the idea of bringing some rum with us. It was enjoyable just casually passing around some rum and coke while having deep conversations about life. Nothing better than that. It was freeing in a way.

Tip #3: Although I’m sure it would be nice climbing the dunes by yourself and enjoying the sunset in silence, consumed by your own thoughts, it was just such an amazing experience to share with other people. So go with other people!

 

Candid shots are the best! Thanks Chris!

In my case, I enjoyed this sunset with two of the best friends I made during my entire trip.

As you can tell from the above picture, J-Lo was the crazy, awesome friend I was seriously destined to meet. The perfect traveling team. We’re likely meeting up again in Southeast Asia this summer!

And then there was Chris. An Irish-born guy from “Australi-er” (Yes, I am mocking you Chris :-P). Such an interesting guy. He is seriously going to change the world one day. I ended up meeting up with him in Bolivia a little over a month after I left Huacachina!

I have no doubt that we’ll meet again one day (maybe when I move to Australia for a couple of years?).


This night in Huacachina was definitely one of the best nights of my trip. Great friends, great conversation, great drinks (Chris thought we liked our drinks way too strong haha! It wasn’t strong AT ALL), and of course, a beautiful sunset viewed from the top of massive sand dunes.

Nothing could’ve made this moment better. It was perfect.

It’s times like these where I really can stop to appreciate all that I have. Where I feel so incredibly lucky to be alive.

Have you ever had a moment like this in your travels?


Advertisements

15 Things To Know About Huacachina, Peru

6 Apr

Huacachina, Peru was amazing. I loved everything about it.

A beautiful oasis

If you like adventure… go to Huacachina. Sandboarding and sand duning while in the midst of an oasis. What more could you ask for?

If you are traveling with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance… go to Huacachina. There was definitely a romantic feel to it. There were a fair amount of couples. And there were some really nice hostels. I stayed at El Huacachinero for one night (left because it was out of my price range) and they had rooms for couples, a great pool, and the decór just felt very romantic. Almost like a little resort. I’ve heard Paracas is a really nice place in Peru for couples as well, but Huacachina definitely is better price-wise.

If you want to relax for a few days… go to Huacachina. It was so easy-going every day. Of course there are people trying to sell you things, but it wasn’t that bad. You can walk the whole circumference of the town in 20 minutes and you’re just completely surrounded by sand dunes, not to mention that it’s an oasis!

Huacachina was definitely my favourite place in Peru. Although, I’m probably pretty biased because I did meet some really amazing people there, which is part of the reason why I loved it so much.

I feel like I could talk about Huacachina forever, but for now…

15 things I think you should know about Huacachina:

1) Getting there is fairly easy. From Lima- you need to take a bus (about 4 hours) to the city of Ica and then you need to take a taxi to Huacachina. It’s a pretty short taxi ride. Shouldn’t cost more than 5 soles. From Nazca- same as Lima. Bus to Ica. Taxi to Huacachina. It’s a really small town so they don’t have a bus station/airport.

2) It is almost impossible to get lost because there is literally ONE road in Huacachina.

3) You can rent a sandboard for about $3 an hour. One guy offered me to rent his sandboard for an hour INCLUDING a massage. I respectfully declined.

4) It’s an oasis. If you don’t know what an oasis is, it’s a desert area that has vegetation in it, hence some type of body of water. In Huacachina, you can swim in the water. You can even paddleboat in the water. However, if you don’t want to swim in it, you can also find swimming pools at almost every hostel in town. My hostel didn’t have one, but I easily found a pool to swim in for free. Just walk around and look for pools and ask (or don’t) if you can swim for free.

5) The sand is really HOT. I suggest wearing socks and shoes. Seriously. When I went climbing up the dunes during the day I usually just wore socks and carried my shoes in a backpack. My friend got terrible heat blisters from wearing only sandals. It’s way too hot for human skin. Consider yourself warned.

6) There are only a few bars in town. The Pub is definitely the best one. It’s actually owned by the same owners as the hostel called ‘Desert Nights,’ which is where I stayed. The staff were really great. They would teach me to dance and would try to talk to me even though I spoke next to nothing of Spanish. There were also two ‘gringos’ working at the bar. The owner told me that she’ll give free accommodations at her hostel, free food, free drinks, free use of a sandboard, and even a small sum of money to people who speak English that are looking for work. The catch? Nothing really except that you only have Sunday off and you work until the bar closes which can sometimes be 5 a.m. I would go early (9-ish) when my friends started working to just hang out, but it didn’t get busy at all until around midnight. I liked going early because I could talk to the Peruvian staff one-on-one and this really helped with my Spanish skills.

The Pub

7) You can bring your own alcohol into the bars! A few friends and I went into Ica one day to have lunch and get beer from the grocery store because it was cheap. I brought a six-pack of Cusqueña right into the bar and they didn’t care at all. My friend brought in boxed wine and they even gave her a glass!

8) If you’re planning on going sand duning, make sure you look around to find the cheaper prices. I found that the prices ranged a lot! I went for about an hour and a half and it cost $15. They stopped every 25 minutes or so for us to go sandboarding on our stomachs down REALLY steep dunes, which was the most exhilarating thing I’ve done in my life (so far). Another tip: GO FOR SUNSET! Our sand duning excursion began at around 4:15 p.m. and we stopped on top on the dunes to take in the sunset. It was spectacular.

Click here to see a video from when I went sand duning!

9) Hostels. It is a small town so there aren’t many options. I stayed at two so I will give my opinion of them. First, I stayed at El Huacachinero for one night. It was 60 soles (!) for one night, but I went around the time of Peru’s Independence so prices were really high. It’s normally 30 soles for a dorm. El Huacachinero felt more like a resort than a hostel. The 6 person dorm had it’s own bathroom with shower. The room also locks when you leave it so the security was pretty good. The beds were comfortable. There was free breakfast, but it consisted of juice (which was gross), instant coffee (like the rest of Peru), bread and butter. The pool was great and had lounge chairs all around it. The staff was very friendly. We switched to Desert Nights the next night because it was MUCH cheaper (15 soles) and some people we met the night before recommended it. The security was not very good because there was no lock to the dorm rooms and anyone could easily walk into the hostel, but I had no issues. The staff seemed very genuine. The owner was amazing. She moved here from the U.S. because of a love interest and she opened a hostel in Huacachina! She helped me with anything I needed. There were 2 or 3 showers in both the boys bathroom and the girls bathroom. There was a restaurant attached to the hostel, which I thought was great. It had fairly priced food and was conveniently right outside the rooms. They really like to get to know you there too, which was nice. I felt really welcome and comfortable. I even got a few free meals out of it.

10) The dogs seem to come out at night. I literally got chased by a pack of dogs one night and it was actually pretty scary.

11) It feels really safe. Always be aware of your surroundings obviously, but compared to other cities/towns in Peru, Huacachina definitely had a safer feel too it.

12) You will get sand EVERYWHERE. I was so careful and still I got sand in my camera. It was broken for a day, which, let me tell you, really sucks. TIP: use a dry toothbrush to get the sand out of your camera. After hours of working at it, I got all the sand out of my camera. Consider a waterproof camera because they are also sand-proof, cold-proof, and can be dropped without breaking. Good luck trying to get all the sand out of your clothes and body. I scrubbed everywhere when I showered and still didn’t get all the sand out.

My camera couldn't handle the sand so I had to clean it out with a toothbrush

13) The weather is weird. I know weather is unpredictable, but I could easily predict how every day would be. The mornings and days were SO hot and sunny every single day I was there (and I was there during their winter). But, as soon as the sun went down, it got really, really, cold. I couldn’t believe how much of a temperature drop there was a night. Nothing like Canada.

14) Sunscreen is your best friend. Seriously. The dunes are really tall! Which means you are a lot closer to the sun and will burn incredibly easy. Believe me, it happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you.

15) If you’re up for a slightly-strenuous adventure, CLIMB THE DUNES. It was definitely my favourite thing to do. It took a while to get to the top, but the view of Huacachina was so worth it. Try going for sunset. I went during the day and at sunset and both were amazing. Leave early if you’re going at sunset because it does take a while to climb to the top. One REALLY good tip I got was to walk up the dunes in diagonals because it makes it a hell of a lot easier. Seriously, climb the dunes if you can. I have to warn you that it is very tiring. I was sweating buckets by the time I got to the top. AND if you’re even more adventurous… RUN down the dunes. It is such a rush! I felt like I was going to fall the entire time, but I actually only ended up falling when I came to a stop. DO IT. It’s so fun. Maybe a little dangerous, but no one I was with got hurt at all.

On top of the world

Click here to see a video of the view from the top.

Random tip: Try ARRIVING in Huacachina at night so when you wake up the next day and see how massive the sand dunes are you will seriously have a WOW moment. I went to The Pub the night I got there and my friend Chris said, “Have you seen the dunes yet?” and I told him I hadn’t. He laughed and said something like, “Oh wait until the morning. It will seriously knock you off your feet.” And it really did. You are completely surrounded by sand dunes, which you cannot see at all when it’s nighttime.

So, please, go to Huacachina. Before it gets too touristy. Yes, I know that posts like this are one of the reasons why a place like Huacachina will become a tourist destination, but I just loved it so much that I had to share it.

As soon as I left I wanted to go back. It’s a great place to just chill out, but it’s also a great place to have fun, adventurous, and breathtaking (literally) experiences. It has everything I’d ever want in a place. It truly is an oasis. It’s even on the 100 (50?) sole note.

I really wonder why it’s not a central tourist destination already.

Click here or the flickr icon on the home page to see more photos from Huacachina!

 

Oh My God! You’re from Canada?

5 Apr

When traveling, it’s funny how meeting someone from your native country is so exciting. It’s as if they’re your neighbours or something and you feel like you need to catch up on each other’s lives. I definitely fell victim to doing this.

When you meet other travellers it’s seems as if the initial exchange is always the same.

“What places have you been so far on your trip?”

“Where are you going next?”

Then there are the other, simple, polite questions about how old you are, whether or not you’re traveling solo, what do you do for a living, etc.

However, the most significant questions, it seems, is:

“Where are you from?”

This is pretty much the first thing someone asks me (sometimes even before they ask what my name is!).

If you’re both from the same country? Instant conversation starter. Instant feeling of belonging. Instant feeling of comfort. At least, that’s how it felt for me, especially as a solo traveller.

And it’s exciting! As if people don’t travel and it’s SO odd to meet someone from the same country as you (do you hear the hint of sarcasm there?).

One encounter really stands out in my mind.

A friend and I had just arrived in Huacachina, Peru at around 9 p.m. We checked into our hostel and then decided to go wandering around the town because it was tiny so knew we wouldn’t get lost. We ended up at this bar called ‘The Pub.’

Posing in front of The Pub. I swear this wasn't a staged photo!

I was wearing a hoodie with the name of the university I attend written on it.

We walked into The Pub and immediately noticed that two of the guys working at the bar were ‘gringos.’

So we went up to the bar to get a drink and one of the guys said,

“You go to Western?”

I was a little taken aback because I didn’t even realize I was wearing my university sweater.

“Um, yeah! I do.”

“No way! I go to Laurier!”

Western and Laurier are not only both in Canada. They are not only both in Ontario (a province of Canada). They are literally within an hour drive from each other.

And then on top of that, I found out that he was from Toronto, which is about 20 minutes from where I live.

Such an exciting moment. I love how you can live 20 minutes away from someone and never meet them, but then you go to a different country and you meet, by chance, in a tiny, off-the-beaten-track town.

The fellow Canadian and I frolicking in the sand

The world is seriously SO SMALL.

Is it as exciting for you as it is for me to meet someone from your native country?

Any stories like this one?

Should I Really Go Paragliding?

3 Apr

This is the kind of question I asked myself every time I wanted to do something that wasn’t free.

It’s not because paragliding is dangerous and risky, because it is. It’s because I’m on a budget. Everywhere you go there is going to be people who ask you to join them in an activity like paragliding. There’s always going to be something you want to do that costs money. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and spend the money in order to have a good time. Other times, you need to hold back because, well, that’ the whole point of a budget. Soak in as much of the culture without spending too much money.

Before I go to a new destinations I always read up on different activities and sightseeing and the prices of such. I ask myself: What do I want to do most in my next destination? How much will food and accommodation cost? How can I make room in my budget for nights out? Is there something that I will do or see regardless of the cost?

The biggest problem for me was that I would meet some great people one night, they would ask me to go do something that costs money the next day. I really, really, really wanted to because I knew I would have a good time with them. But then the whole budget thing would pop into my head.

And I would start to think “I can go paragliding anywhere,” “I can go sand duning in another country… right?”

So how do you decide what to do and what not to do?

Of course it’s always price dependent.

But sometimes you just need to say, “F*ck the budget!” Otherwise you might miss out on opportunities. And I don’t mean specifically what you do and see, but who you’re sharing the experience with.

I’m sure I can go sand duning in another country, or I can even come back to Peru and do it, but the experience might not be as good. I went with a really great new friend and it was so much fun, not just because it was exhilarating, but because I got to share the experience with someone I could really appreciate it with.

Sand duning in Huacachina, Peru! So much fun. They would stop about every 20 minutes so we could go sandboarding on our stomachs. So exhilarating because the dunes were SO steep.

Paragliding was something that I was even more unsure about. For the obvious reasons that it could end really badly, but also because you can paraglide anywhere! Really, anywhere. Canada, the U.S., Europe… everywhere.

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. I went with 3 other people from my hostel and it was really a great bonding experience. I’m even meeting up with probably all 3 of them in SE Asia this summer. I was planning on going paragliding at some point in my life, so why not do it in Lima, Peru? The view of both the ocean and the city was amazing. One of the guys was actually so scared to do it, which was hilarious. But we talked him through it and he was so glad he did it. The cost? I think it was around 100 soles, which is about $35, for a 15 minute… glide(?). A little bit out of my budget, but I made room for it by eating really cheap.

See how happy it made me!

And that brings me to my next point about choosing what to participate in or not. A big part of budgeting is eating. A typical budgeted day of eating for me is usually (hopefully) complimentary breakfast, street food for lunch, cheap restaurant for dinner, and add in a beer or glass of wine or two (or three). While I could do these things on my own, I enjoy eating with other people. I love having conversations over a meal. BUT, a lot of people want to eat in a restaurant for every meal, especially if their trip is a short one and they’re not on a budget. So when new friends ask me to go out to eat with them, I have a really hard time saying ‘No.’ Of course I would love nothing more than to share a bottle of wine at a great Indian restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. This is something that you just really need to budget well. Write down what you spend each day and you’ll be able to enjoy meals that are a little out of your price range while compensating in other areas of your budget. I love the social aspect of eating, so I will compensate for those more expensive (but not too expensive) meals.

FREE Breakfast of Champions

Be smart. Know when to avoid spending a lot of money, but also live a little. Things cost money. That’s how the world works. Sometimes you just need to spend that extra money (and compensate for it in other areas of your budget) because you might regret it if you don’t or great opportunities might be missed

 

Click here for a video from when I went sand duning in Huacachina!

Click here for a video from when I went paragliding in Lima!

 

“You’re NAME is Jennifer Lopez?”

1 Apr

“You’re name is Jennifer Lopez?”

I met J-Lo in my dorm room in Lima, Peru and we ended up traveling together for a while. Now, eight months later and we’re actually still friends. We might even be meeting up in Southeast Asia this summer.

So, when is it a good idea to travel with another person or a group of people?

What should you think about before deciding to travel with other people? How do you say no or how do you get out a bad situation (I’m still working on the answer to that question)?

We were having our first pisco sours (Peru’s national drink!) in the hostel’s bar and the bartender told me about this place where I could go sandboarding. It was four hours from Lima and I only had about 5 days before I had to be at the archaeological dig site I was volunteering at. I decided I would go. J-Lo asked if she could come with me. The obvious answer, without hesitation, was “Of course!”

BUT, I definitely think that it is very important to weigh the pros and cons of traveling with another person or traveling with a group before you say yes because it can be a nightmare.

Are you compatible? Or really, are your personalities compatible? I’m not saying you need to have everything in common, but you have to make sure you won’t get on each others nerves too much.

What kind of schedules do you follow? Are you laid back when you travel? Do you like to follow a strict itinerary? Do you make plans to make plans? This is a good thing to establish before deciding to travel with other people.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘No.’ It’s your time to explore the world and you don’t want people getting in the way of experiences that you might have had otherwise.

…on the other hand, you might have the most amazing experiences with complete strangers.

I loved finding people to travel with. I liked having time on my own too, but I LOVED getting to share my experiences and create memories will other people. And what was so great about it was that these people were from all around the world. I have friends in Belgium, Australia, the U.S., etc, etc. I love feeling connected to so many different places and cultures. I’m not implying that you won’t have great memories and experiences if you don’t have any travel buddies because, regardless, you will meet people everywhere you go. I liked getting to know people over a longer period, but it was also kind of exhilarating to just meet strangers and have a great night and then never see them again.

Another reason why I love having travel buddies is that it almost seems much easier to get along with complete strangers than so many people I know back home.

J-Lo and I at 'The Pub' with locals in Huacachina, Peru!

When you’re going on a trip with another person or more than one other person, make sure you will be able to travel with them. If you’re traveling with a friend or sibling for an entire trip there will be times when you wish you were on your own. If you’re not setting a strict itinerary, then make sure everyone understands that everyone is going to be drawn toward different things. It’s probably a good idea to set some guidelines beforehand so arguments and annoyances can be avoided. Maybe even suggest something like this: If you want to do something different than I do, why don’t we just agree to go our separate ways for the day and meet up for later for dinner? You don’t want to end up resenting your travel partner or your travel group.

Traveling is a time to enjoy the world and soak up all the culture. It shouldn’t be rememberd as a time filled with animosity.

If you want to see some more pictures from Lima click here or the flickr icon on the home page!