The Coastal Deserts of Peru

I arrive in Lima at 6am in the morning after one of the most brutal flights I’ve ever had. You see, for 5 days before getting on the flight I’d been partying in New Orleans and had run my body into the ground. To pile onto this, the flights I’d booked left the next day and had 2 stop overs in the USA before heading to Peru. I arrive at my hostel too early to get into bed so I just find the nearest sofa and pass out.

I wake up feeling refreshed but still needing at least a night of proper sleep to feel normal again. On the next couch over are a couple of guys who start talking to me as I wake up and it turns out they have some epic plans for the day. They are driving down the coast in an old 1970’s combi van on a surfing trip with a couple of chick friends and one of them is coming with some serious filming equipment to get some footage. In passing they invite me to come along and in my delirious state, forgetting I haven’t had good sleep in 7 days, I take them up on the offer.

The road trip begins

We jump in the van and start driving south down the coast to a surfing village around an hour away. The 3 of us in the back are crammed in around the surfboards and luggage but honestly it doesn’t matter because there are tunes pumping and they are a good bunch to hang out with. We arrive in the carpark of a local restaurant which will be the base for the next couple of nights and settle in. I’m still feeling like crap and the guys do their best to prop me up (thanks guys) and we hang around that night having some drinks and listening to music until it’s time to go to bed, which was kind of hilarious. When it comes to sleep I’m not picky but fitting 5 people into a full combi van becomes more like a game of Tetris. In the end I went to sleep curled up in a ball on top of the pile of luggage and it was surprisingly comfortable.

Waking up the next morning it was time to go hunt some waves and while the others were out in the surf I stayed on shore and helped with the filming from the drone. I’ve never seen one of the professional drones in action and the footage was incredible. By the afternoon I’m completely drained again and because I can’t tell whether it’s still from being exhausted or I’m getting sick I let the guys know I’m heading back to Lima in the morning. It was a really fun side trip but sometimes you have to tap-out.

Within a couple of hours of arriving in my new hostel in Lima I meet two new people, Mariska from the Netherlands and James from England who are taking the same route as me down the coast to the Huacachina oasis the next day. I ask to tag along with them and with that settled over night I have one of the best sleeps I’ve had in months. We arrive at the bus station the next day and meet up with two more travel mates of Mariska’s from Canada, Alex and Conor. I didn’t know it but we would end up becoming a pretty incredible squad.

Sunset in Lima

After a looooong bus down to Huacachina we arrived at the oasis with enough time to run up the dunes and catch sunset (with a few beers). The climb was brutal but when we reached the top we were stunned by the most incredible sunsets we’ve ever seen. Absolutely jaw dropping. Reaching off to the horizon there were sand dunes as high as mountains, all being framed by the red sun. After the sunset is finished we made our way back down to the hostel which had a cocktail bar and swimming pool and have way too many Pisco Sours into the night.


The next day is busy but probably one of the most fun I have had in a long time. We have 3 hours of Pisco and wine tasting in the morning followed by dune buggies and sand boarding in the afternoon. Jumping into a few taxis we drive through the chaos of downtown Ica to the small Pisco distilleries on the outskirts of town. The distilleries are all still running as they’ve been doing for generations and the tour is actually really cool for the 15 minutes that it lasts. That’s when we get into the Pisco tasting. For the next hour or so the 12 of us from the hostel drink countless cups of the stuff until we find ourselves singing reggeton in the cab back home. The Pisco place also claims to be a museum, but I wouldn’t agree with that. It’s actually just full of the weirdest collection of old junk like typewriters, preserved animals and old artwork. This is what happens when you work with Pisco every day I guess? Before we leave the Pisco tour myself and Conor buy a bottle of the stuff to keep our buzz going until the buggy ride that afternoon. We have a great afternoon drinking the whole bottle and terribly singing more reggeton at the hostel bar until it’s time to go.

The Oasis

Sometime during the afternoon we hear the buggy’s fire up for the first time and they all have insane chevvy block engines that sound like the cars used in the mad max movies. Conor and myself hear these at the bar and basically run outside to see what’s causing the noise. When we get out the front we find our buggy looks like a prop out of mad max as well. Every time the driver pumps on the accelerator a fountain of steam and water shoots out of the radiator and splashes the front couple of rows in the vehicle. Of course we shotgun the seats up the front and get in next to the driver while Alex and Mariska get in behind us.

As we get out onto the dunes it becomes more of a rollercoaster ride than driving. We come up to the crest of a dune and then plummet down the other side while throwing our arms up into the air, the whole time being blasted with steam and sand. This keeps going for around 20 minutes until the driver pulls over at a crest and tells us to get out with our boards. In broken English he shows us the boards, the slope on the other side and some wax and tells us to get into it. We go up and down two smaller slopes a few times before moving onto the final monster slope. Walking up to the edge we look over and see a group of people at the bottom that are just specks. Laying down on the boards we push ourselves off and reach some insane speed before jumping off some smaller bumps at the bottom.


That night back at the oasis we have a few more cocktails at the bar before meeting a group of Canadian girls from the tours. We have a great night that ends with us sitting up on the dunes looking out over the lights of the oasis and Ica in the distance.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Callie says:

    Those two photos in the dessert are insanely beautiful. Like seriously, the light is so soft and pretty and it just looks so nice. Great post, thanks for sharing and making me insanely jealous!


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