When I woke up I was glad that I didn’t go on the boat to the Poor Man’s Galapagos. After last night my guts would have been all over the place out at sea at 7.30am. After leaving Paracas we went through the desert up to the top of a cliff that gave amazing views of the area. The landscape didn’t look real. It was almost as though you were on the moon.
About an hour away from here was tonight’s stopover, Huacachina. This is a small town that’s a bit of a desert oasis built next to a lagoon and surrounded by huge banks of sand. This makes for a spectacular setting. It’s quite touristy and gets even busier at weekends according to Nilo, with lots of Peruvians also visiting. Nowadays Huacachina is a mainstream destination, summed up by when I searched for it on Google. At the top of the listings was an article in one of the lowbrow, downmarket British newspapers. I’m not mentioning its name but it has a popular and particularly trashy website.
The huge banks of golden sand rose above the back of the hotel. Again, it didn’t look real. Aside from the beautiful location and nightlife, the main activity in Huacachina is sand bugging and sandboarding. There are probably more buggies driving around town than cars. When I signed up for this, Nilo promised that he’d find me a good driver. I inquired whether this meant a fast or safe driver? He said both. Upon getting into the buggy you are required to wear a rollercoaster-style seat belt and sign some sort of waiver. Then you’re away. Later in the evening I spoke to someone who said that they thought the trip was a bit calm. Our ride wasn’t. Clearly we had some sort of wild man driver. It wasn’t helped that there were two attractive Brazilian young ladies in the front seats who he seemed intent on showing off to. During the day I must have been asked by the same man at least seven occasions whether I wanted to purchase any of his extensive collection of sunglasses. This was despite me already wearing a pair! As fate would have it, while passing over a steep ridge in the sand, my sunglasses flew off sideways out of the buggy, over the edge of a sand dune and never to be seen again! This is exactly why I can’t justify wearing nice sunnies. During the ride we were taken to the top of some dunes and given snowboards to use to get down the embankment. I opted to take the safety-first, lying down approach. It was actually quite tame compared to the buggy. The only issue was that if you have recently applied suncream, you end up wearing a lot of sand. Back on solid ground I looked up the safety record of this activity. The only serious incident I could find was when a group took a trip with an unlicensed driver outside the recommended daylight hours. Unfortunately the buggy rolled down a steep slope and people were killed. When I later spoke to Nilo about this he said that the drivers were very safety conscious, experienced and only drove fast where appropriate.
Huacachina was rocking tonight. I discovered that Jenga is actually quite difficult after an hour of all you can drink Pisco Sours. I was certainly a bit pisscoed! Peruvians can certainly party. Despite the hotel room sharing a wall with a nightclub I had little trouble sleeping tonight.