Huacachina & The Road There
Highway Bread Oven
Our first stop was a sandwich/breakfast place along the highway. It was very popular, many tour busses were stopped along with us, and for good reason! The bread & sandwiches were extremely tasty and inexpensive. I got an avocado sandwich for around 4 sols and my husband got the Don Bruno Chicken Special for 2.50 sols. We also got our first taste of Peruvian coffee, and it did not disappoint. I'm very particular with what coffee I will drink and the coffee in Peru is fantastic! Keep in mind that the locals working at the bread oven don't speak much English, so its good to have a guide who can help you order if you aren't fluent in Spanish.
A short deviation off the road to Huacachina brought us to an old estate which was originally built in the the mid 1600’s. The estate itself is beautiful, but it has a darker history. Beneath the house lies an extensive network of tunnels which were used to smuggle slaves into the house from the coastline to avoid paying taxes on the slaves. This practice made the family very wealthy, which you can see by the furniture still displayed in the house.
The labyrinth beneath the estate was a combination of tunnels and chambers where slaves could be hidden, as well as where the family could hide their assets from raiding pirates. Walking through the tunnels most of us had to duck our heads and stoop because the ceiling sloped and the tunnel was uneven and cramped. Many parts of the tunnel have caved in over the centuries due to earthquakes. Some of us had to cover our mouths just to breathe without coughing in the musty passageways. We saw bones in a few underground chambers.
It’s an eye opening experience to stand in the exact spot where centuries ago so much oppression took place. The estate is so beautiful, but it's important to remember the darker history that accompanies the estate's beauty which was paid for in suffering.
Paracas is a little gem that wasn't on my radar at all before embarking on this adventure. There's so much to do there! Our group spent a free day in Paracas before heading off to Arequipa.
For breakfast we stopped at Fruzion where our group had a large selection of milk shakes, smoothies, and pancakes for breakfast! My husband and I both had pancakes covered in chocolate and café con leche (coffee with milk). The coffee was delicious and delivered that much needed caffeine boost! Everyone else got fruit shakes which looked so good, so we went back later in the day and got a chocolate banana Frushake to go for 15 sol. Totally worth it!
Part of our day in Paracas included a trip to Ballestas Islands. These islands are commonly referred to as Peru's Gallapagos. We piled into a speedboat and took off for the islands. The journey took about 20 - 30 minutes and fortunately the waves weren't very jarring in the open ocean so nobody got seasick!
The first thing we noticed were the birds. There are so many birds living on the islands, from pelicans to seagulls to penguins and more. The birds were constantly diving straight into the water to scoop up fish in their beaks! We didn't see a lot of the penguins because they live quite high up on the beach avoiding sea lions!
There were sea lions basking all over the craggy rocks. Anywhere the rocks had a bot of a ledge there was bound to be a sea lion. We even had the privilege of seeing a baby sea lion! I highly recommend this excursion if you are in the Paracas area!
Go Karts & Quads
Everyone in our tour group rented Go Karts & Quads! I let my husband do most of the driving because one, he was really excited, and two, my short legs couldn't quite reach reach the gas & break pedals! I had a great time being a passenger, taking in the view, feeling the wind in my hair and snapping photos. The drive was a bit nerve wracking, drivers in Peru are a little crazy, constantly honking horns and turning unexpectedly without warning! On the way back I tried my hand at driving a quad, and I don't think it's something I would try again. I much prefer being a passenger in a fast vehicle but I'm glad I sated my curiosity!
Red Sand Beach
We go karted to a red sand beach to watch the sunset. After a few photo ops and an encounter with a sea lion that came to life when we all presumed it was dead the tide began creeping in. We had a gorgeous view of the rolling waves under the sun as it fell beneath the sand dunes in the distance before bidding farewell to Paracas.
Of course you can't talk about Peru without mentioning Huacachina. This sandy Oasis is brimming with nightlife and things to do by the pool or out in the dunes. An hour after arriving in Huacachina we changed into shorts and hopped into a dune buggies whivh would carry us across the dunes.
The dune buggies held about 12 people each. There is nothing like ripping up a sand dune and plunging down the other side full speed ahead. We were screaming and shouting with the thrill of the ride the entire time! Just when we thought the ride was over we found out the ride was just getting started. I had a war going on inside me of fear for my safety and exhilaration, the experience was so wild!
The closest thing I can compare the experience to is a rollercoaster with how many rises and falls we zipped through!
Sand boarding is one of the msin reasons I signed up for the LBW Peru tour. As I snowboarder I thought this take on it sounded incredibly unique and was eager to give it a shot. The dune buggies eventually stopped in the middleof the desert and the drivers unloaded sand boards for each of us. We waxed each board before strapping our shoes in with velcro bindings and attempting to board down the dune.
On my first attempt I quickly realized that strapping my feet in wasn't going to work for me. The boards are pretty one size fits all, and I found that my size six feet didn't reach the toe bindings! It was no problem though, I boarded fown the next four dunes on my stomach! I looked like the abominable sand man at the end of the ride but it was so much fun!
BBQs & Bonfires
The hostel hosted an all you can eat & drink bbq that night for 32 sols each. It was an incredible deal, there were lots of veggies, a delicious pasta salad, french fries, dinner buns, and chicken & hamburgers for the omnivores! As a vegetarian I appreciated having lots of options to choose from. We had three alcoholic beverages to choose from on free refil for the duration of the meal!
After we had eaten and drank our fill we all hiked up a sand dune in the dark to a little spot where we made a bonfire! We stayed there hanging out as a group for a few hours before turning in for the night.