Huacachina is one of the most awesome travel-bases in the world.
From this postcard perfect Oasis (literally) you are 10 feet from a cozy bar/restaurant/hotel in all directions and for a few dollars someone will take you into the dunes via buggy for a dizzying ride through mile high sand dunes. At the apex, the driver–with an odd confidence in the rider’s ability to perilously surf down a 5,000 foot dune, drops you off, gives you a board, and drives away leaving little choice other than to recklessly adventure downward. ($16)
For almost nothing the locals will provide transport to the Ica area wineries (yes, in a desert), and a hidden community of self-professed witches and shamans. ($6)
For $8 a van will take you on an imminently scenic three hour ride to a harbor (in the village of Pisco) where a speed boat will jettison you passed dolphins and surfacing Killer Whales to the Ballesta Islands (the poor man’s Galapagos). There you can confront a blue-footed booby, a hundred thousand squawking sea lions, and a pungent odor that even a mortician will notice.
For $100, you can be taken to a nearby airport (well, perhaps four hours away, actually, and “strip” might be a better word for “port”) and experience a 45 minute flight over the ancient Nazca lines.
Any of Huacachina’s dozen eating establishments offers amazing and cheap food. The most expensive hyper-exotic cocktail in any bar is about $2 or $3.
It is awesome. You should go now. I’ll drive.
If you must wait, go in mid-March during the Ica Wine Festival. With huge complementary tasting tents it’s like a county fair–except instead of horses, they exhibit pumas and condors.
At the time of this writing there was only one ATM in Huacachina and it is broken. Get money from the one at the bus station in Ica, and take the $2 taxi ride 4 miles to Huacachina,