Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.
Huaraz to Ica
After an amazing 3 weeks in Huaraz, it was time to continue south. We’d decided we wanted to skip Lima as has been characteristic in our trip to try and skip major cities. Another reason is we wanted to try and maintain our altitude acclimatisation for Cusco and Arequipa. This can be lost or greatly reduced in as little as a few days at sea level.
We took an overnight bus (40 soles / $14.40 ea) leaving at 10.30pm and arriving in Lima around 6am. A 1 minute walk and 10 minute wait would have us onto our next bus (21 soles / $7.50 ea) heading to Ica for nearly 5 hours.
We’d come to Ica to visit the nearby lagoon area of Huacachina but had been recommended to stay in Ica as it was cheaper and not as touristy. Toby would spend more than an hour searching for a place to stay with not much luck. It was a mix of unavailable, too expensive or some of the worst looking rooms we’d seen in the past 12 months. We would eventually settle on a small hospedaje a block from the main bus station for 35 soles ($12.60) including hot water. It was not so tranquil with typical Peruvian street noise lasting late into the night and starting early. For those looking for more peace we would suggest finding a cheap Hospedaje near Huacachina or in a quieter neighborhood 10-15 minutes walk away from the bus station.
Getting there was cheaper than we’d read online, it was only 4 soles ($1.44) in a moto taxi each way. This place is incredibly small and you could walk the couple of streets and around the lagoon in under an hour. The lagoon wasn’t really all that much to look at. Some people rented paddle boats while others were getting rowed around for some truly unknown reason. We would later see people swimming, but it sure didn’t look that inviting.
The primary activity here is a dune buggy tour with sandboarding. As at August 2014 this would cost 40 soles ($14.40) each for a 1 hour trip and include a couple of basic sandboarding rides. Rodora wasn’t so keen on the buggy rides as they’d been described more as a roller coaster ride on the dunes so we needed a different activity.
We went in search of our own board rentals and quickly discovered some old converted snowboards ripe for the task. Simple boards you toboggan on are around 1.5 soles ($0.50) per hour, board you stand up on with Velcro straps range around 3-5 soles ($1.10-$1.80) per hour, but the snowboards would be 15 soles ($5.40) for 2 hours each.
In the back of our minds we knew we’d be in for a tough 2 hours. When we’d arrived mid-morning the sun hadn’t really put out its full heat. Within minutes of hiking the dunes with the sun beating down on us, it felt like an oven out there.
We were soon up on a small test hill to see how this would all work.
The method of setup is a little different to a snowboard. We were given a regular candle and some bright orange coloured wax which we suspect was a leather or car wax. The concept was to rub the candle all over the board and then smear the orange wax liquid on afterwards. The instructions again in broken Spanish seemed to point towards the more you use, the faster you go.
Toby was first to test this all out and pointed down head first to gain maximum speed. It was surprising how much this felt like snowboarding. Just ignore the yellow sand, blasting heat and lack of gondola or chairlift. In all seriousness though, the method was so very similar to snowboarding that it was scary. It was slightly slower than a snowboard, mostly due to the friction and the simple material used on the base of the board. You could carve a couple of turns and really get into the motion of it all. The only problem is you have to hike hard to get up to a high enough point to enjoy the short time you’re riding.
Rodora was cautious and perhaps a little too slow, similar to her regular snowboarding technique. This really needed an aggressive pointed down the hill stance with no caution.
One run down, we gathered our energy for another walk up the hill. This really is harder than it sounds. There is a reason those buggies are popular here for dragging people all over the dunes. Walking on a sand dune is not going to make any persons top 10 list of things to do.
Once we were up near the top and out of energy, we stopped for a scenic photo of the area. This is certainly worth doing if you choose to skip the buggy ride. There are quite a few others doing the walk but we were the only 2 crazy enough to be dragging our boards up with us.
Now it was time to get in a bigger run. We got our gear on and prepared the boards.
As with any run you wonder how it’s all going to work out. There’s minimal danger here. There’s a definite lack of trees, rocks and other people to cause any troubles like on a regular ski hill.
Rodora on her second run got into the motion of things and if you change the sand from yellow to white you might be misled as to where we even were.
Totally exhausted, we took our boards back and went in search of cold refreshments and shade.
It didn’t take us long to find a beer and relax.
We would then grab a moto taxi back to Ica and get on an overnight bus to Cusco.
Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/