I didn’t really have an itinerary planned for when I got to Peru. Luckily, I didn’t need one, because I was about to meet some awesome tourists with the best advice.
One of them, Ben– a Brit from Manchester, recommended I go to Huacachina, a desert oasis about a 5-hour bus ride from Lima. On our last night hanging out, I committed to going. He was leaving for Equador the next morning and I booked a bus ticket from Lima to Ica (Right next to Huacachina, which doesn’t have a bus station) for $9. The departure time was 3am. Ahhh!
Waking up at 2:15, I had my day bag packed, I brushed my teeth and caught a taxi to the bus station. Within a half hour, I had started the 5-hour trip to Ica and I was reclined on the bus, trying to sleep the morning away.
I arrived in Ica right on time around 8 am.
There aren’t many times while traveling solo where I feel unsafe or scared. The last time was the first time I went hiking in the Abruzzo mountains alone and an older Italian man tried to grab my arm and lead me into the woods. That’s a story for another day.
But at 0900 in Ica Peru, I started getting followed by a man while I was trying to find the tourist office. I believe I misunderstood the instructions. I should have taken a taxi from the bus station to Hucachina where I would book the sandboarding tour.
About 5 minutes from the bus station I started to get an uneasy feeling that I might be in the wrong place and I probably should have turned back, but I decided to follow a circuit, which would bring me back to the bus station but it would just take me farther out and around.
Ica is a town that is pretty rundown. There were tuk-tuk trucks everywhere and the only other place I’ve seen those is Southeast Asia. The rows of houses and shops were more like a bunch of garages strung together down the street that people both lived and worked out of. It was early morning and most people were cleaning out their spaces, washing the floors, and sweeping the dirty water out into the street. I started getting stared at immediately. I was the only white girl around town. Shit.
Not long after this man started walking behind me. This is an important lesson when you are out traveling alone ladies. KEEP AWARENESS. As soon as the guy started walking behind me I put shifted the weight in my bag and put it on my right shoulder. At this point I had also lost the direction I should be heading in so I decided to walk all the way around the block and see if the guy followed me.
Well he did. Then he tried to get behind me again. I didn’t run. I just crossed the street. Then he crossed the street. So we zig-zagged down and my goal was to not ever let him get behind me. Because if this dude touched me, so help me…!
Anyway I saw a side road that led to a main road and just wanted to get to a place where other people were so I went down the road. Around the corner came a tuk-tuk truck so I flagged him down and jumped inside. Saved by the tuk-tuk! Looking out the back window I saw the guy who had been following me just standing there staring. I smiled and flicked him off.
Then the driver of my tuk-tuk drove about 100 feet down the road and we broke down! What luck. Was this the Halloween H2O movie when the victims are running away from Michael Myers and he just walks slowly and always catches up. GAH!
Luckily stalker face was gone and I helped the driver push his tuk-tuk around the corner and then he took a rag soaked with fuel from the front of the car and literally wrung it out into the gas tank. We made it to the gas station and then he drove me over to Huacachina for $2. I gave him $10 for saving me from an unsafe situation he didn’t know anything about.
Hucachina is legitamately an oasis in the desert! I had no idea. No wonder there was no bus station out there.
My tuk-tuk driver dropped me off in town and I walked around for a few minutes looking for a place to sign up for the tour and get some breakfast. There’s not much in the town, but there is an awesome hostel called Banana’s Adventure. I hung out there pretty much all day even though I didn’t have a room. Shh, don’t tell them 😉
I signed up for the dune buggy / sand boarding tour there and then sat down at the bar for some breakfast.
Then headed over to hang around in a hammock for a few hours. I got the wifi password off of one of the girls I signed up to go sandboarding with and it was a wonderful morning. The sun was actually out, which doesn’t happen much in Lima, and it was really nice how hot it was.
The girls I signed up to go sandboarding with were also trying to catch a bus back to Lima that evening so we convinced the lady at the hostel to book us a tour at noon. (They don’t normally do that but it was our lucky day.) The whole tour cost 35 soles ($10.35), which included dunebuggying, a sandboard, and then sandboarding for 3 hours. Awesome!
I will say being in a dunebuggy is like riding around in a small boat. The sand gives the same way on a dunebuggy as water gives on a small boat. All you have to do is relax even if it feels like you might flip, eek!
It was awesome! I definitely fell and there is not as much give as snow, but we all survived the first few runs and then went to this giant hill, which was the best one yet. For the steep hill we all went down on our bellies and seriously we were flying. One girl hit a bump and hit her lip so hard it was bleeding.
Driving around some more we flew over a few dunes and after we started getting sunburned in the heat and dehydrated, we headed back towards town. By this point there was sand in every crevice, haha. It was going to take a long shower to get all the sand out of my hair and clothes.
When we got back to the hostel we had a bit of time before we had to head to the bus station so we did a loop around the desert oasis. I never though I’d be able to say something like that!
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.