on March 18, 2010
After an educational morning at the Regional Museum in Ica, we went for some fun in the afternoon at the Huacachina Oasis. The Oasis is a small lake in the middle of a desert full of sand dunes. It is now a family resort but there are sand dune based adventure activities that you can participate in, and this is what we did. The cost of this little excursion was approximately US$70. First of all we boarded dune buggies – open sided jeeps with protective bars around. They are quite high up so difficult for us shorter people to get in and out of. You are strapped in tightly with a harness that goes over you shoulders and fastens between your legs. I recommend wearing reasonably thick trousers as I got quite a bruise at the top, inside my thigh from all the being thrown around, constantly bashing into the seatbelt fastening. There is a little mesh pocket on the back of the seat in front of you that can hold your water bottle and camera securely. Each buggy takes 8 or 11 people including the driver. It is a short drive through the streets to the Oasis proper, and here is what you see what these buggies can do. The drivers takes you up steep sand dunes, swishing about with sharp turns and then letting the buggy slide down a particularly high dune before giving it another sharp turn and taking you back up again in a different direction. The initial shock and scream as you plummet downwards soon turns to an exhilarated laughter, and so it continues. At one point further into the dunes the drivers find a suitably sheer one and get out the snowboards. You lie on your tummy on the board, holding onto one of the straps tightly, and lift your lower legs slightly as one of the guides pushes you down the 35m drop. It is quite surprising how much speed you get up as you slide as elegantly as you can to the bottom. It is quite a smooth ride going down the dune, but as the slope tails off, it can be a bit bumpy and this is where most people fell off or acquired their bruises. The guides were impressed with me and thought I was some sort of natural, I don’t think there was very much to my technique other than to hold on for dear life! It was great fun and most of our group participated, although most (like me) were a bit nervous the first time they went down as the slope was so steep. We had about three goes at sliding down different dunes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to climb back up, the buggies come down and collect you and take you on a short ride to the next one. The guides (two per buggy) will also take photos with your camera (one of them always drives a buggy to the bottom of the slope with the cameras so they don’t get sand in them – one guy went down with his camera in his pocket and it didn’t work again for the rest of the trip). After the duning we piled back into the buggies and drove around to a viewpoint of the actual oasis itself and heard its story, before the buggies took us back to our coach. The buggy place is a little away from the oasis (only a few minutes drive) but has toilets and a café. We didn’t eat in the café but is also sells soft drinks, snacks and ice creams. It is an exhilariating and adventurous afternoon activity, there was a lot of laughter and all the participants thoroughly enjoyed it.
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