There are certain stories that you hear as a child that really capture your imagination. I confess to having been quite taken with the idea of the Arabian desert oasis. The thought of a palm fringed expanse of water surrounded by rolling hills of sand always fascinated me. Though in truth they seemed more likely to be just mirages of my imagination than real live places I would see and experience.

So, when Ciaran told us on our Galapagos tour about Huacachina in Peru, my interest was peaked. What, there is an oasis in Peru? And you can go dune buggying and sand boarding? This sounded like too much fun and I was mega keen to sample some of it.

Growing up as a kid in The Shire, I have memories of the once imposing sand dunes of Kurnell (now sadly mined almost out of existence). Mum and Dad would take us out there on occasion and we would watch the dune buggies and slide down the hills on pieces of cardboard. Thus, to have the opportunity to do a spot of dune buggying myself and slide down the sand on a board had the kid in me very excited indeed!

As we are now inching closer and closer to the end of our holiday we have had to pick and choose more selectively what tours and activities we do, as unfortunately the well worn phrase, “You can’t do it all” is starting to ring true. We reasoned that a couple of nights in the desert oasis of Huacachina and the associated activities there would be probably the last major thing we would do before our hike to Macchu Picchu.

So we boarded the luxury bus Cruz Del Sur to head south from Lima to Huacachina. We both found the scenery out the window comprehensively depressing. The obvious poverty of the homes we saw in the desert was relentless, and we were wondering if we had made the right decision to travel all this way for a bit of water in the sand.

However, not long after arriving at the oasis we were content that it was a good call. The little village of Huacachina had a really laid back and relaxed vibe that reminded us somewhat of the chilled out atmosphere we so love in Asia. Our hotel, Curasi, was simple but comfortable and had a great pool area which we made good use of.

The afternoon we went out for our dune buggy and sand boarding adventure was of course the highlight of our time there. We opted to hire a buggy for just the two of us as it was not much more than going with a larger group. I swear the buggy owners have souped up the engines so they have that menacing full throttle sound that I usually associate with a mass of Harley Davidsons going by. After having read a few on line stories of the hellraiser approach the drivers tackle the dunes with, both of us were admittedly a little nervous.

When we commenced our ascent up the dune Damien implored the driver to be “mas tranquilo” and he was, for all of about a minute! Nonetheless I was soon whooping with delight as we sped across the desert and hooned up and down the hills. I do recall on one or two occasions that Damien let out a few choice words as we launched off the top of a particularly steep hill, but all in all we both loved every minute of it.

The dunes we went boarding down were much much steeper than I had anticipated. It was all excellent fun and our final hill(s) were the most exhilarating. Our driver saved the best for last, no doubt about it. There was a very steep first hill and then a reasonably long expanse of flat before we were instructed that there was another “hill” after to descend, down which we could not see where the other punters disappeared into.

Slightly suspicious that the second hill was somewhat of a doozey I dug my feet in just a wee bit (I admit to not being a complete super woman at this point) as I approached the next hill and thank god I did because, Oh Lordy, that was not a hill but a devilish drop off! But, man it was an epic way to finish our boarding bonanza! Just quietly I landed it with excellent execution – as the legendary boarder I was in my own mind. Magnifico!

After that I was keen for another go at that sand rollercoaster, but we were informed by our fearless driver that it was time to make haste to catch the sunset over the dunes from a prime location he had picked out. Although the sunset itself wasn’t going to make it into any National Geographic specials, it was a nice quiet time to sit and reflect on what an awesome couple of hours we had enjoyed in a truly unique environment.

The gentle slowing of our hearts was completed as we returned to the dune rim that surrounds the oasis and stopped to check out the view of my childhood fantasies. Yep, another life experience box ticked off on this year’s adventures for sure!


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2012 is the year that my fiance, Damien and I took leave of work to see this wonderful world we live in. Our adventures took us to Scandinavia in the winter to view the ethereal Northern Lights, the heat and humidity of Asia for three months, Europe via caravan and now South America. We have seen so many wonderful sights and met so many great people that I know that year of travel will continue to inspire and inform how we live our lives for all the years to come.

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