Sunday, 29 September 2013
The Huacachina Oasis
Our 2 day stopover in Lima turned into 3 days due to illness. We both came down with really bad stomachs and I (Hannah) got a rather nasty what we think was an allergic reaction on my skin. All a bit dramatic so we couldn’t make our bus on Tuesday morning. We left Lima on Wednesday morning instead, unfortunately with no more of an impression of the city than when we last left. However it was great to meet and get to know Janice; Tim’s wife, who quickly became surrogate mum to us both! It was the next best place to home when you're sick!!
So we travelled on… to the Huacachina Oasis- 4.5 hrs south of Lima and 5 minutes from the city of Ica. Huacachina is a small town in the desert that surrounds a picturesque lagoon lined with palm trees and tired colonial buildings. All around and beyond are mountainous sand dunes, providing a spectacular landscape. Originally this resort was built for the Peruvian elite, but now it’s a bit of a backpacker’s playground!
On Thursday afternoon we took the dune buggy and sand boarding tour. Great fun! The dune buggy raced into the desert; up, down and around the dunes – just like a rollercoaster. We stopped off at a few points to take in the scenery.
Then came the sand boarding. I have discovered that I am definitely getting more fearful in my old age! The first few ‘slopes’ we went down standing, with our feet strapped on the board- it’s much like snow boarding so Kyle was pretty good. I on the other hand…!! I am definitely a skier! A LOT of sand in the shorts!!!
The latter slopes were HUGE and so steep. I actually thought it was a joke… and everyone was going down on their fronts! Nutters! Even Kyle saw this and thought that it looked too dangerous and thought it best to go down standing up. We had heard of various other travellers with bandages on their chins after visiting these dunes from not exercising enough caution.
However….! When it got to the last dune we all stood at the top in a line supporting each other, ‘This is OK right? I mean… we can do this right!” Typically Kyle got impatient in contemplating the idea and decided to be the first guinea pig on ‘The Daddy of all dunes”. We all ended up speeding (and I mean SPEEDING) down on our tummies, I was the only girl to do the whole thing as well J arriving at the bottom safely much to Kyle’s relief due to my track record with these kind of adventures! So exhilarating and bloody frightening!
We had read in Lonely Planet about a great Cornwelian-run veggie kitchen called Casa de Bamboo that did some real culinary rarities. Discovering it was literally just over the road from our hostel we ended up visiting 3 times! We fell in love a little bit. We had Thai red curry – well worth the suffering afterwards, banoffee pie, falafel and chocolate fudge brownie…mmmmmmmm. We were thoroughly entertained by Rose, the owner’s very sweet 2 year old and the resident kitten!
We hiked up a nearby dune for sunset one evening. For every 2 steps forward the sand dragged us 1 step back! Exhausting! I suppose it’s training for our more serious hiking in the Colca Canyon and for Machu Picchu.
We made it!
This morning (Saturday), we got up early and went on a tour to visit the Ballestas Islands. Nicknamed ‘the poor man’s Galapagos’, these offshore islands have a ton of wildlife. Thanks to Kyle’s research we sat on the left hand side of the boat; the much better side for viewing as the boat just goes around one way! We cruised around the islands’ arches and caves and saw sea lions and penguins, boobies(!), pelicans and other types of birds in thousand strong colonies.
We spent the rest of our time relaxing by pool and exploring town and discussing our tummy movements on an hourly basis… exciting stuff eh!
This evening it’s a 12 hour night bus further south to Arequipa. We are seriously talking about taking some Spanish classes there as we have heard positive things and we know that it will help us no end!