Part Three: My journey so far has taken me through fresh churros in Lima, wood-fired fresh bread on the drive to Paracas, and climbing through dirty slave tunnels at an old plantation. All of this, along with a boat ride to cross another species of penguins off my list, so far I’d say we were doing pretty good. Off to some sand-boarding on immense sand dunes!

After the impressive islands of Paracas, I made my way onto a bus to take me to Huacachina. This desert oasis right outside the sprawling town of Ica is a popular tourist attraction and significant Peruvian site, as the small village is featured on the 20 Nuevo Soles (Peru’s money).

Having a small town be on the face of a specific national monetary symbol shows how important this oasis has become to the surrounding areas. It’s generally the main attraction on your way down the coast of Peru.

Many people I talked to while in this town mentioned that if this village wasn’t there for tourists, hardly anyone would venture that far along the coast line. Instead of lengthy and difficult bus rides that can reach up to 18 hours in one spurt, it would make a hell of a lot more sense if you just flew to Arequipa.

DSC00634Saving hours and hours of boredom and soreness could all be mitigated with one short plane ride to reach Peru’s next great adventure, Colca Canyon. If the promise of skirting along megalithic sand dunes in dune buggies and skating down massive dunes on a snow board wasn’t so appealing, hardly anyone would reach Ica.

DSC00619Anyway, after I boarded my chartered bus to the aforementioned desert oasis, the bus company took me to Playa Roja on the Paracas Peninsula. Otherwise known as the Red Coast, it’s a string of stunning red-sand beaches on the fringes of vast deserts.

The scenery along this coast line was by far one of the best I’ve witnessed in my travels. After a small jump off an overhanging cliff, you’re sitting in a great expanse of deep-red sands while the ocean laps over your feet.

Roja Playa BeachWe stayed here for a couple hours to take in the scenery. I spent my time wandering the coast, taking pictures of pelicans flying by, and laying on the shimmering red sand.

Once our bus driver yelled for us to get back on the bus, we were off again!Stunning Cranes drifting on boats

Our first sit of Huacachina was through giant sand dunes and a single road that seemed to be swallowed by the surrounding landscape. Our bus dropped everyone off and we all dispersed to our respective hostels.

We were told to meet back at our drop-off point if we wanted advice on how to set up a dune ride. I wandered the town with my friend and walked around the small pond in the center of the village. There were charming boats floating in it with magnificent cranes perched on top of them.

I got settDSC00649led into my relatively simple hostel room (woot for no bunks!) and wandered back to my bus driver for an afternoon on the dunes! I met my seemingly normal Peruvian dune driver and climbed into a seat with 5 other people.

Right when I strapped in, my driver sped off into the desert. What I didn’t know before climbing into this particular dune buggy was that the driver had a well-known reputation in Huacachina as one of the best, insane buggy drivers in town.

IMG_0214We sped full speed across huge dunes, flying into the air multiple times every few minutes. We finally came to a stop, where our driver strapped usinto sand-boards and sent us down dunes at increasing heights.

Walking up sand dunes is incredibly hard, incase you’ve never ventured to try this. With a long sand-board in our arms on our way up to an even larger dune is even harder.

In fact, I slipped and fell face first onto my board. I shot down the dune I had just climbed up while sand stung into my cheeks going head first to the bottom

After all the fun and hilarious attempts at shooting down dunes on a snowboard, wIMG_0221e ended our day with a jaw-
dropping sunset at one of the higher dunes. It was definitely one of my favorite moments in Peru, let alone all of South America.

When we ended up back in town, I made a prompt attempt at getting all the sand out of every nook and cranny on my body with a shower. There was a BBQ being held across the village that my friend and I ended up at that had delicious foods and good company.

DSC00650As I drowsily walked back to my hostel for a well-deserved nights rest, I thought to myself that if most of my trip was this exhilarating I’d have toraise my expectations of regular life. In my sleepy daze walking through the streets, I was still coherent enough to snap this shot with my iPhone.

As I fell asleep that night, I couldn’t help but feel that this wouldn’t be the last unforgettable memory I would make in South America. That, and digging more sand out of my ear in the coming days.