Monday August 17, 2015, day 1 of the next leg of my Dragoman tour. I find myself in the southwest of Peru in the village of Huacachina. Located in the Ica Province near the city of Ica, this village is built around a small natural lake in the desert that is now a resort for adventure seekers. It was here I was about to experience my first taste of dune buggying and sandboarding.
Huacachina is surrounded by sand dunes that stretch hundreds of metres high. I felt like I’d been transported into the deserts of the Middle East. There is a natural lake here in Huacachina, surrounded by palm trees. Legend tells of a native princess who was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. When she eventually fled, she left the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The dunes surrounding the lagoon are the folds of her mantle trailing behind her as she ran.
Just after 4pm, my fellow Dragolanders and I were sat inside one of two dune buggies. Each buggy can seat 12 people. Strapped in tight, we were soon on our way, up and over the sand dunes for an exhilarating ride.
I can only liken the experience to being on a roller coaster, but much more wild with superb scenery.
The buggy sped up and down the sand dunes, twisting and turning right and left to reveal the city of Ica below, surrounded by desert mountains and more endless sand dunes. Our photo stop spots were stunning.
My first sand boarding run was both nerve wracking and exhilarating. The sand dune we were about to conquer was both high and steep, and for a brief moment my fear of heights kicked in. With the Go Pro attached to my head and my head band protecting my face, I was lying face down on my board, staring down the sand dune with the sand inches away from my face.
Holding onto the straps with both hands, elbows in, legs as wide as possible, and don’t forget to use your feet if you want to brake or slow down, my guide soon gave me a push and I was on my way. I have to admit my first sand boarding run was nerve wracking. I was flying down the sand dune at break neck speed, and I could feel every little bump on the way down. I used my feet a lot, dragging them behind me to slow my speed. But by my second run at a higher and steeper sand dune, I was all about going as fast and as far as possible, in an attempt to be the person who sand boarded the furtherest. We had three sand boarding runs. I won the second run.
Our buggy took us for another wild ride across the sand dunes as the sky turned a crimson pink after sunset, before taking us to our camping spot for the evening.
Surrounded by sand dunes, our hosts had prepared a BBQ camp fire for us to sit around where they cooked us a BBQ meal.
The crescent moon eventually sunk behind a sand dune to reveal the starry night sky and the Milky Way.
With bedtime approaching, I took my sleeping bag and camp mat, and trudged up a steep sand dune to find a flat sandy surface to sleep. With no one else nearby, I rolled out my sleeping bag and crawled in for a night in the desert. Lying on my back, the view of the sky above and all the stars was magical.