Around 200 miles south of Lima, Peru, there is a magical place that provides a sharp contrast to the vast desert and enormous sand dunes of the coastal region of Ica. This is the Huacachina Oasis.
Known as the “Oasis of the Americas,” it is considered one of the few natural oases in the Western Hemisphere. The spectacular landscape of this perfect spot is formed by an emerald green lagoon and towering dunes that are perfect for adventure sports like sand boarding, motocross and dune buggy driving.
Underground currents surface here and lend the Huacachina lagoon its green hue. The beauty of the place is enhanced by the tall groves of palm, eucalyptus and huarango (a type of mesquite) that surround it and provide a haven for migratory birds passing through the region.
The greenery of the oasis reaches its full splendor in February and March. These months are the high season for tourists, who can't resist a boat trip on the lagoon.
The Legend of the Huacachina Lagoon
The story goes that long ago an Inca princess named Huacca China lived in this place. She was a great beauty, with a voice so lovely that its melodiousness alone could melt the hearts of men.
Once, when the princess was alone, a hunter saw her and was bewitched by her beauty, so he began stalking her. The princess broke into a run to escape his bad intentions, and along the way her dress was torn by obstacles until it fell off and became a blanket of sand (the desert). A mirror she always carried with her also fell and became the Huacachina lagoon. Seeing that she was cornered by her attacker, the princess turned into a mermaid to elude him.
Locals say that to this day the princess-turned-mermaid will appear on moonlit nights and sing her song.
Adventure and adrenaline in the desert
While the tallest dunes dare hard-core sand boarders to rip down their slopes, there are plenty of places for beginners to give the sport a try. There are various travel agencies that offer board rental packages so visitors can have a go at sliding down the soft sand. Tourists can also rent dune buggies and feel the rush of racing up and over mounds of sand of all sizes. Travelers who come here can also camp, hike and go swimming in the lagoon.
Without question, the views and experiences at Huacachina Oasis are without compare, as more and more visitors are discovering each day.