City: All of Peru // Activities: Sandboarding in Peru // Reading time: 5 min
Peru is one of the few mega diverse countries in the world, as it is home to jungle, mountains, desert and the sea. It still seems incredible to me that you can visit all of this in just 3 weeks, without having to leave the country.
Even though Peru has a lot of snow-capped mountains, unfortunately you can’t ski or snowboard. However, why would you want to snowboard if you can do the same thing in the sand? Sandboarding in Peru is the equivalent to snowboarding in other parts of the world. All you need is a board and some dunes. And as Peru’s desert is around half the size of Japan (approximately 180.000 km²), there are quite some of them! So the question that comes up is...
Where to go Sandboarding in Peru?
Even if Huacachina, Paracas and the Morón Oasis are the more famous spots to do Sandboarding, they all have 2 disadvantages:
1.) They are around 4 hours away from Lima. Thus, if you have to catch a flight in the afternoon or if you don't want to waste time sitting in a bus, these aren't suitable options for you.
2.) It's not "real" Sandboarding as the equipment is not professional. You slide down the dunes sitting or lying on it.
Out of all the places mentioned above, Chilca is the only one that is located in Lima. The other three are located in Ica, the bordering state of Lima. That’s why, generally speaking, the tour in Chilca is the best one if you don’t have a lot of time as you only need a half day.
The tours in Paracas and at the Morón Oasis won’t be the focus of this post, rather the sandboarding tours in Huacachina and in Lima as they are best for sandboarding. Let’s begin with the Huacachina tour.
Sandboarding in Huacachina
Located around 4 hours south of Lima, the Huacachina Oasis is quite far away from Lima. Therefore, it’s often not the best choice for a day tour, as you’d have to leave very early and get back to Lima late at night. This makes this tour quite tiring, in case you don’t decide to spend the night in Huacachina or in Ica.
It’s rather a popular option for tourists that head to the Nazca Lines or to Arequipa by bus and make a stop in Paracas or Ica for one night. The Huacachina Oasis itself is a pretty oasis in the the desert, with some hostels, restaurants and travel agencies around.
The sandboarding tours in Huacachina are always combined with sand buggies. They race through the desert, making you feel like you’re on a super fast roller coaster which is a lot of fun. At some point you make a stop to do sandboarding. However, there is no instructor, just the driver that gives you cheap wooden boards often with broken straps or straps that are too small. That’s why many times it’s actually impossible to board as you would do on a snowboard (standing on the board), but rather sitting or laying on the board.
After you’ve boarded down the dune, you have to walk up if you want to board again. As there are constant tourist masses visiting Huacachina, the drivers have a tight schedule which might lead them to make you hurry up a bit so they can return to the starting point and pick up the next group. The sand buggy experience is great and the views of the Huacachina Oasis as well, but the actual sandboarding experience is rather poor.
Sandboarding in Lima (Chilca)
This tour takes place in Chilca, which is only a little more than an hour away from Lima. Therefore, it’s a perfect option for all the travelers that don’t have a lot of time. In fact, it’s one of the top things to do in Lima if you’re looking for an adventurous half-day tour.
The amazing thing about the sandboarding tour in Lima tour is that most likely there won’t be anyone around you, meaning that you’ll have the entire desert for yourself. You heard right, not just a tiny dune but the entire desert. In fact, you will do this tour with a professional 4x4 driver that will show you what it’s like to drive a jeep in the dunes. Even though the jeep doesn’t have as many horsepower as the sand buggies in Huacachina, this is still a lot of fun.
Apart from that, you will be accompanied by our experienced sandboarding instructor and you’ll get professional equipment (sandboards, wax and helmets). He will first show you some techniques on a small dune, so that you can get the hang of it step by step. Once you’re ready, you can move on to the big dunes where you can really board down.
When you reached the bottom of the dune, you will have to walk all the way up. No...just kidding! The driver will be waiting for you to pick you up and drive back to the starting point again. This sandboarding tour in Lima really is a lot of fun!
Comparison of places where you can do Sandboarding in Peru
|Huacachina Oasis||Chilca||Paracas||Morón Oasis|
|Distance from Lima||4 h||40 mins - 1 h||3 h||3.5 h|
|Dune vehicles||Sand buggy||Jeep 4x4||Sand buggy||Sand buggy|
|Sandboarding||2-3 times||6-9 times||2-3 times||2-3 times|
|Other tourists||Various groups||Probably just you||Probably just you||Probably just you|
Recommendations for Sandboarding
No matter where you will do sandboarding in Peru, as you can only do it in the desert you will always be exposed to the sun. That’s why you have to use sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat in order not to get sunburned. Also, bring a bottle of water and some small snacks.
During our sandboarding tour in Lima, we will provide you with some snacks and before the tour you will also make a quick stop at an artisanal bakery that makes delicious bread filled with ham, cheese, olives and more.
Sandboarding in Peru? Go for it!
Sandboarding in Peru is one of the most fun activities you can do in the land of the Incas. If you’re looking for an accessible tour with a personalized service that is close to Lima, the Sandboarding in Lima tour is the right one. The other tours are also in beautiful locations, but especially the Huacachina Oasis is already overrun by tourists and the sandboarding experience is rather poor.
If you really want to do sandboarding, the tour in Lima is by far the best one. However, getting to know the Huacachina Oasis and racing through the dunes with sand buggies is still a lot of fun and it’s worth it when you’re travelling south of Lima. In the end, it depends on your travel plans and what service aspects you value more. Have you done sandboarding in Peru before and if so how did you like it? We'd be happy to hear about experience in the comments.