The Story of the ‘Huacachina’, Peru’s Natural Desert Oasis

It's a dreamy destination installed in the middle of the Peruvian desert, surrounded by nature and loads of activities to do during your visit.

By: THURSD. | 06-04-2024 | 4 min read
Peruvian oasis

Nature is essentially the greatest gift of all, after human life. But nature per se IS life. Because of nature, the world every single one of us lives in has been born. Because of trees, we can breathe. Nature is spectacular in every way and the Huacachina in Ica, Peru is one of nature's most precious spots, lying in an oasis in the middle of the desert.

A Complete Guide on Huacachina - An Oasis in the Middle of the Peruvian Desert

Also referred to as the 'Oasis of America', you'll find a tranquil lake surrounded by greenery, piers, and a diverse range of hotels to stay in if you want to spend more than one day in this wonderful refuge. The landscape beauty that this place has to offer tourists is so impressive that, in 2017, the British newspaper The Telegraph named the Huacachina as one of the 21 most impressive places to visit in the world, making it the only Latin American destination on the prestigious list.


Upper view of Huacachina Oasis in Peru
Peru’s extraordinary desert oasis, Huacachina, with its gigantic and dramatic sand dunes
Photo: @enigmaperu

Being one of Peru's numerous tourist attractions, Huacachina stands out for its natural charm and landscape beauty. The Huacachina Lagoon, located just twenty minutes from Ica, is an ideal place to unwind, take a break, and think how awesome the fact that nature has once again created a place as spectacular as this in the middle of the Peruvian desert. What about its history?


Enjoying the Oasis in the Peruvian desert
A visitor in the Peruvian Desert Huacachina Oasis
Photo: @maikellneww


Huacachina has long been a popular domestic and international tourist destination. The waters of the oasis were once thought to have healing powers, and the town became a resort for wealthy Peruvians who came to take advantage of those therapeutic properties in the 1960s. Huacachina, once a playground, now has the air of a former beauty queen. The restaurants and hotels that line the small lagoon are built in the style of old Spanish colonial revival architecture that harkens back to a bygone era.


Huacachina Oasis during the night
Illuminated Huacachina Oasis during nighttime
Photo: @exploorperu


The Huacachina Legend

Legend says...

Legend says that this oasis was created by a beautiful Inca princess named 'Huacca China' who spent her days in this peaceful location. With the unique sound of her beautiful voice, this woman had the ability to make anyone fall in love with her. When the princess was walking, a man noticed her and was taken by her beauty, so he decided to approach her. The princess fled from him. The lady's suit began to rip through the brush along the way until it finally came off and turned into a sheet of sand. The mirror she always carried with her also fell, and when it broke, it turned into a lagoon in which she submerged herself and became a mermaid.


View of the oasis in Ica Peru
Visible and clear panorama of the Huacachina Lagoon
Photo: @iva_yviline


Another legend tells that this lagoon was born from the tears of the same princess who mourned the death of her beloved. The name Huacachina, which means 'crying woman' in Quechua, originates from this story.


Two people laying in the sand dunes at Huacachina
Photo: @peruhop


A True and Real Desertical Oasis in Ica, Peru

A Fata Morgana is not the same as an oasis. Fata Morganas do not exist and are rather a fathom or as some call it, a 'mirage' but the Huacachina oasis does not make a part of this category. This oasis was formed thanks to an underground current of water, which generated the growth of plants and trees in the middle of the Ica desert.
Spectacular picture of the Huacachina
Amazing view of the entire desert surrounding the Huacachina Oasis in Ica, Peru
Photo: @urosvisekruna
Currently, there are efforts underway in order to preserve the oasis and to help preserve the vegetation which is made up of palm trees, eucalyptus, and carob trees. Yet this oasis in Peru also suffers from dehydration due to climate change. Hopefully, there won't be just Fata Morganas in the future. These kinds of miraculous natural phenomena, such as the oasis in Peru, should be cherished and can offer us perspective in restoring nature.
Visitor in the sand dunes
Photo: @caseyskilbeckphotography
Important to keep in mind that the Huacachina Oasis is the only natural oasis in South America and is located just five hours away from Lima and fifteen minutes away from the city of Ica, in southern Peru. Home to the biggest sand dunes in the continent, Huacachina is a MUST when traveling to Peru!
Sand buggy in the Peruvian desert
Part of the activities you can do in the Peruvian desert is grabbing a buggy to stroll around the dunes!
Photo: @leydifer2
It’s the perfect place to do the famous sandboarding and dune buggy tour or enjoy other variety of tours in the town or nearby. Give yourself the chance to know one of the most spectacular hidden places on earth while you cross the desert in a sand buggy!



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