When traversing the towering sand dunes of a desert, the last thing you'd expect to see would be water, vegetation and a thriving civilisation. Unless you're in southern Peru.
Nestled in the foothills of the South America nation's Ica Desert lies a small town called Huacachina - a true oasis in every sense of the word. Located 350-kilometres south of Peru's capital city Lima and just 10 minutes from the regional capital of Ica, this picture-book village has been built around a small natural desert lake that measures around 200-metres in diameter.
Explore Huacachina here.
Huacachina has a permanent population of 100 residents, however the village is an extremely popular holiday destination for locals, backpackers and adventurers.
Oasis Of America
The village is also known as the "Oasis of America" and is one of the few natural oasis' in the Americas. Huacachina is even featured on the back of the 50 Nuevo Sol note - Peru’s official currency.
In the 1940s, the oasis became a popular beauty spa for wealthy Peruvians in Lima, however its appeal declined in the 1950s. It wasn't until the 1990s that the village prospered once again.
Conservationists are concerned about the long-term prospects of the lagoon, with a diminishing natural water supply an ongoing issue.
According to the Peruvian Times, surrounding landowners have installed wells to access groundwater, drastically reducing the level of water in the oasis, and affecting the lagoon's ability to naturally refill. Because of this, the lagoon’s own water supply needs to be constantly supplemented from other sources.
The sane dunes of the barren Ica Desert that surround Huacachina reach heights of up to 90-metres.
Huacachina has been declared a national cultural heritage site by the Peruvian government's National Institute of Culture.
Huacachina At Night
The bright lights of the nearby city of Ica can be seen in the distance. With a population of 220,000 people, Ica is the capital and major hub of the Ica Region.
The Legend of Huacachina
Local legend holds that the lagoon was created when an inquisitive young hunter disturbed a local princess while she was bathing. She fled, leaving the pool of water behind which became the lagoon. The legend now proclaims that the princess inhabits the lagoon in the form of a mermaid - there's even a statue depicting this on the lagoon's banks.
Huacachina has become an unlikely adventure sports hotspot with the towering dunes and year-round sunshine making the village a popular destination for sandboarding and dune-buggy driving.
Huacachina has a year-round dry climate with precipitation of just 2.5-centimetres per year. The village has an annual average temperature of 25 degrees celcius, with February and March the hottest time of year.
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