The ultimate guide to sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru

Huacachina Sandboarding is one of the must-do experiences for adventure seekers visiting Peru. You must not skip this especially if you are in Lima or Paracas!

Huacachina, a small desert oasis located in the Ica Region, offers a unique landscape that makes it an ideal spot for sandboarding. This is one of the most unique experiences in Peru!

The Huacachina sandboarding can be done from Lima (5-hour drive) and Paracas (1-hour drive). In my case, I stayed for a night in Huacachina on the way to Arequipa.

huacachina sandboarding

One night is enough in Huacachina. There’s a party hostel called Wild Rover Huacachina where you can stay for as low as $17 USD. However, this hostel is quite loud so you may want to find other options on where to stay in Huacachina if parties are not your jam.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced boarder, Huacachina has dunes of varying sizes and slopes. Beginners can start on smaller dunes, while thrill-seekers can tackle the taller ones.

Here’s everything you need to know about Huacachina sandboarding in Peru!

🇵🇪 Best Huacachina Sandboarding Tours

huacachina sandboarding

If you are already in Huacachina, you can just pay for the tour (from $25 USD). If you are coming from Lima, you need to sign up for a day trip from Lima to Huacachina.


🏜️ Huacachina Sandboarding Experience

Here’s a personal account on Huacachina sandboarding. First off, the guide did not pick me up at my hotel. I had to walk to the meeting point but it wasn’t that far – Huacachina is a small town!

The walk is a little bit uphill and as you can imagine, it’s really hard to walk in the dunes so I suggest you do it barefoot instead of wearing shoes. However, you still need shoes for the Huacachina sandboarding itself.

The boards don’t have footwear per se. It has to be strapped on your shoes. See the photos on this post to know what to expect!

Huacachina Dune Buggy Ride

huacachina sandboarding

From the meeting point, you will get on board a dune buggy. It accommodates up to 6 people and the ride is pretty rough (or at least I think the driver was doing it intentionally).

You might hit your head on the railings of the buggy so hold on tight and wear your seatbelts! The dune buggies in Huacachina are very modern and safe. They did not provide a helmet though.

The dune buggy will serve as your transportation to go to the highest dunes in Huacachina. They will not bring you to only one point but it goes to different sandboarding points in the desert. We probably visited at least 4 spots.

Sandboarding in the dunes of Huacachina

I have zero sandboarding skills when I did this Huacachina sandboarding activity so it is definitely OK for beginners. In fact, the sand dunes in and around this desert oasis cater to all skill levels, from complete beginners to experienced boarders.

For starters, the dune driver/guide will bring you to gentle slopes where you can practice. The area around Huacachina features a variety of dunes, including smaller, gentler slopes that are perfect for beginners.

From these lower dunes, you will have the chance to get accustomed to the board and the sensation of sliding on the sand at a manageable pace. It’s really not that hard!

Unlike snowboarding, sandboarding does not require the same level of initial skill or balance. The sand provides a softer surface for falls, making it a bit less intimidating for beginners to try out.

The only tiring thing is you have to walk up the dunes to ride again. The higher the dune, the greater the challenge is.

Sunset over Huacachina

After the sand dune boarding in Huacachina, the activity ends with the sunset viewing. There are two options: first option is to watch the sunset on the dunes.

Normally, the guide/ride will leave you in this spot if you want to stay. You just have to walk back to town yourself which is not that far (about 12 minutes walk).

If you don’t want to stay in the dunes for sunset, the guide can also drop you at a high spot near town where you can see the sunset views of the Huacachina Oasis.

The photo above is not high enough so there’s no perspective of the oasis from above. However, the high spots to see the oasis (and take photos) are a bit far.

🏄‍♀️ Ways to do the Huachina Sandboarding

In sandboarding, much like snowboarding, there are a few different ways to ride down the dunes, and each method offers its own level of thrill and challenge.

In Huacachina, the choice of how to ride your sandboard typically depends on your comfort level, experience, and sometimes the specific conditions of the dunes.

In some parts of the world, standing up on a sandboard is not allowed unless you are a pro but in Huacachina, they don’t mind if you want to stand. I do not advice you to stand if you are not confident enough as some dunes are really high!

Here are the ways to sandboard in Huacachina:

Standing Up

This is the most traditional way of sandboarding, similar to snowboarding, where you stand on the board with both feet strapped in and slide down the dune face.

This is best for those who have some experience with board sports (like snowboarding or skateboarding) but beginners are encouraged to try it under guidance.

In Huachachina sandboarding, standing up is definitely allowed and encouraged for those who feel confident enough. Many people visiting Huacachina try standing-up sandboarding, with lessons and tips provided by tour operators.

Lying Down (Belly-boarding)

In this method, you lie on your stomach on the board, holding the front edge with your hands, and steer by shifting your weight. This is great for beginners or those looking for a less challenging but thrilling ride.

This method is widely used and perfect for first-timers who are just getting the hang of Huacachina sandboarding. I stuck to this position the whole time and for me, it is the safest.

Sitting Down

Sitting down on the board, often referred to as “tobogganing,” involves sitting on the board and using your feet and hands to steer. Also suitable for beginners, it offers more control than lying down and can be a step towards standing up.

I only saw a few people sitting down and personally, I don’t feel comfortable doing this. It does not look comfy at all!


Some riders choose to kneel on the board, which can offer a middle ground between lying down and standing up. This is good for those looking for an alternative to standing but with more height and control.

While not as common in Huacachina sandboarding, kneeling is possible if the rider feels comfortable and the board allows for it.

🏄‍♀️ Beginners are given basic training before heading to the dunes, and many find that trying different positions helps them find what they’re most comfortable with. Just have fun!

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💰 Huacachina Sandboarding Prices in USD

If you are already staying in Huacachina, you can just go to the dunes without a reservation but you have to do this in the morning if you are planning to do the Huachina sandboarding in the afternoon.

For walking in, the Huacachina sandboarding price starts at $25 USD per person. Over the years, Huacachina has been popular for sandboarding so walking-in is a risk. If you only have one night to spend in Huacachina, it’s best to reserve your Huacachina sandboarding experience online.

If you are coming from Lima, the price can be higher (up to $70 USD) because transportation is included. The day trip from Lima to Huacachina takes about a full day. Just the drive is already 5 hours so you must allot a full day just for sandboarding.

🥽 What to Wear to Huacachina Sandboarding

The clothes to wear to Huacachina sandboarding is very specific but you probably have most of it if you are backpacking the entire Peru. To have an idea of what to pack, here’s a complete list:

huacachina sandboarding

Long-Sleeved Shirt

Ideal for the Huacachina environment, a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt is indispensable. It serves a dual purpose by protecting your skin from the intense sun and providing a barrier against the fine desert sand.

Long Pants

When sandboarding in Huacachina, long pants are crucial for protecting your legs from the abrasive nature of the sand. Falls are part of the learning curve, and durable fabric pants can prevent scrapes and discomfort, allowing you to enjoy your experience to the fullest.

Closed-Toe Shoes (Sneakers or Boots)

A sturdy pair of closed-toe shoes, such as sneakers or light boots, is essential for navigating the dunes of Huacachina. They protect your feet from the hot sand and provide the necessary traction for climbing up the dunes with ease.

Sun Hat or Cap

A sun hat or cap is more than just a fashion statement in the desert; it’s an essential piece of protective gear. It offers much-needed shade, protecting your face and head from direct exposure to the sun’s rays.

huacachina sandboarding

Bandana or Buff

The desert’s whimsical winds can kick up sand, making a bandana or buff an invaluable accessory. Wrapping it around your face not only protects your skin from sand particles but also helps you breathe easier in windy conditions.

Sunglasses with UV Protection

The bright desert sun reflecting off the vast sand dunes can be harsh on your eyes. Sunglasses equipped with UV protection are vital, safeguarding your eyes from harmful rays and reducing glare, which ensures clear vision as you navigate the slopes.

Light Gloves

While optional, light gloves offer protection for your hands during the climb up sand dunes and when gripping the sandboard. They prevent blisters and protect against the hot sand, ensuring that your focus remains on the thrill of the descent.

huacachina sandboarding

Sunscreen (High SPF)

In the vast, open landscape of Huacachina, sunscreen with a high SPF is indispensable. It acts as a critical shield against the sun’s powerful rays, preventing sunburn and long-term skin damage. Apply generously and regularly!

huacachina sandboarding

Lip Balm with SPF

The dry, harsh desert climate can quickly lead to chapped lips, making a lip balm with SPF a must-have item. It will keep your lips moisturized and protected from the sun’s UV rays, ensuring your comfort and well-being as you enjoy the exhilarating experiences that Huacachina has to offer.

Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is key in the hot, arid climate of Huacachina. A reusable water bottle is essential for maintaining hydration levels during your sandboarding adventures.

huacachina sandboarding

Backpack or Daypack

A reliable backpack or daypack is crucial for carrying your essentials, such as water, snacks, and sunscreen, while keeping your hands free for sandboarding. Opt for a lightweight, comfortable pack with enough compartments to organize your items efficiently.

huacachina sandboarding

Goggles or Protective Eyewear (optional)

Sand can be an irritant, especially on windy days or at high speeds. Goggles or protective eyewear can shield your eyes from sand and wind, enhancing visibility and comfort. This gear is especially recommended for those who wear contact lenses or are sensitive to dust and sand.

Even if it’s hot, remember that Huacachina has a desert weather. One thing that I did not pack and buy in Huacachina is the bandana , which is very essential since the wind is blowing on your face all the time!

If you are wearing sunglasses, you may want to bring goggles or any eye-protective gear.

📆 Best time for Huacachina Sandboarding

huacachina sandboarding

The best time to go sandboarding in Huacachina, considering both the weather and the unique desert conditions, is during the Peruvian winter months, from May to September.

This period offers the most favorable weather conditions for sandboarding. The Peruvian winter is the cooler season in the desert, with daytime temperatures more comfortable for outdoor activities like sandboarding.

The desert can get extremely hot during the summer months, making physical activities less enjoyable. These months generally see less cloud cover and rain, providing clear, sunny days that are ideal for sandboarding and enjoying the stunning desert landscapes.

⏰ Best time of day to go sandboarding

The best times of day for sandboarding are early in the morning or later in the afternoon towards sunset. These times avoid the peak daytime heat, making the climb up the sand dunes more bearable and the overall experience more pleasant.

Morning (around 8 AM to 10 AM) offers cooler temperatures and the advantage of experiencing the desert when it’s more tranquil and the sand is less hot, making it easier to walk on the dunes.

Late Afternoon (around 4 PM to 6 PM) is also a great time, as the heat of the day begins to dissipate. Additionally, sandboarding at sunset provides a breathtaking backdrop, with the changing colors of the sky and shadows on the dunes creating a magical desert landscape.

Additional Tips for Sandboarding in Huacachina

Avoid Midday: Try to avoid sandboarding in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak, as the desert temperatures can become quite high, making the sand very hot and increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Check Local Events: Sometimes, the best time to visit Huacachina can also be influenced by local events or festivals, which can add to your travel experience. However, these periods might also be busier, so it’s worth considering if you prefer a more quiet time.

Looking for more Huacachina travel guides?

Trisha Velarmino (43)

Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.

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