After 9 short days and a hell of a lot of walking in Cuzco we were ready to head to the south of Peru- first stop at 6am was Arequipa. Dazed and confused we arrived in this bustling town that boasts more taxis than people and no indication that any road rules exsist. Through sleepy eyes we tried to decide if we wanted to go to the second largest Canon in the world- Colca canyon or see the desert Oasis of Huacachin. Having gone way over our quota of walking for the week we decided on the latter. This meant we had two full days of buming about which turned out great considering we bumped into some old drinking buddies from La Paz on the first night- a Scottish couple Susie and Neil. Needles to stay we sunk a few beverages and listened to their Colca Canyon stories which includes Neil getting bitten by a puppy and subsequently heading to the doctor to try and organise some rabbies injections.
The next day we went to see a museum on Juanita which is basically the corpse of an Inca girl who was among many children sacraficed to the weather gods on the nearby volcano which was actually quite intersing. We meet up again with our rabid Scottish friends, indluge in some wine and a few games of a******* and (feeling suitably tipsy) head to our overnight bus out of Arequipa; probably not getting the most out of the place but enjoying it nonetheless.
As soon as we hit Huacachina I knew we had made the right decision to spend a night here. It is like nothing I have ever seen before: it is exactly like a stereotypical desert osais depicted in cartoons. Circuling the town high above are towering sand dunes hundreds of meters high while the cute little town is built surrounding a lake and some palm trees. It was a little pocket of paradise! We did a sand buggy and boarding tour in the evening, not so keen on the sandboarding having done it, but excited to get out on these beasts of buggys. Ours was driven by this old no-nonsense rev-head who was about 60 and just went sick on the dunes. He knew what he was doing and took us on a pretty crazy roller coaster ride, catching air I am sure in some places. When it came to the sandboaring, the dunes were massive and just got bigger as we went from one to the next. After no real saftey instructions our no-nonsense guide basically strapped us in and pushed us down the dune, not stopping for questions, fears or cigarette breaks. He was on a mission! The last couple of dunes were so big we had to go down on our bellys rather than standing up and of course before I could breathe any hesitation, no-nonsense dude had tipped me over the edge of the dune and I was flying head first into a what felt like a sandstorm. I kind of worked out how to put on the breaks so while others were absolutely storming down this hill, I took it easy. One girl was absolutely charging down the last dune; so steep that the people at the bottom looked like toy soldiers and crashed at full speed into a girl at the bottom shattering her leg. This girl's leg was definitiely broken and the guides were trying to rush us down the dune to get her to hospital but with a great deal of resistance. The rest of us were lined up on the peak of the dune looking at each other, then at the crowd who had formed around the girl, then at the giant dune ahead of us with a great deal of hesitancy. We all gradually got down as the sun had set and dune buggied into the night, back to town. We never found out what actually happened to the girl with the broken leg as she was in another buggy but I am pretty sure her memories of Huacachina arent as good as mine!!
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Read much more about Peru on the KILROY travels website