The photos of the beautiful sand dunes of Peru are all over social media, and now you’re ready to make your way to the oasis. Huacachina is a small settlement, on an actual oasis lake, in the desert near the city of Ica, Peru. It’s only an hour from the ocean, and 4.5 hours from Lima (if you time it right).
In this post, we have provided a “how to” guide to get to Ica and Huacachina from Lima, and some good to know information for before you arrive.
There are no busses that go directly from Lima to Huacachina (the oasis), so you’ll need to get yourself to Ica first.
There are multiple bus companies that go all day to Ica, but finding where they leave from in Lima is the key. The “Big Bus Terminal” or Gran Terminal Terrestre in the Plaza Norte is closest to the airport, and would be a logical choice. It is not.
Busses from this terminal only leave in the afternoon, and they drive all through the city to pick up other guests along the way. The supposed 4.5 hour journey slowly turned into an 8 hour journey and was not enjoyable. However, if you’re staying in the area near to Plaza Norte, you enjoy shopping and don’t care how long it takes you to get to Ica, the mall is a good time.
There are multiple companies to choose from, with varying prices and levels of luxury. We went with Oltursa bus on the way there and it was $55 Soles ($17 USD) pp. The double decker bus had lots of leg room and 160 degree reclining seats. It was luxurious, but as I am prone to motion sickness, being on the top level was a nightmare and I felt every gust of wind along the way.
We took Peru Bus on the way home and tickets were $13USD pp. The bus wasn’t as new, and the seats didn’t recline as far, but they had individual mini screens like on an airplane, something Oltursa did not. Cruz del Sur is your cheapest company, and I imagine the busses reflect that, but they’re probably still not that bad. Plus, it’s a straight journey, so safety isn’t a huge concern.
Although the option of turning up to the bus station and hoping for the best is there, the better option is to pre book your tickets online. We found this out once we arrived in Ica, so we used RedBus to book our ride home with PeruBus.
Booking with RedBus was easy, but they never sent our e-tickets until 2 days AFTER our bus ride…thank goodness we didn’t actually need them. Only our passports and a digital copy of our receipt to get on the bus. I’m not sure if every bus company is the same so it may not be worth the risk.
BusBud is another option for booking online, or you can search for the bus schedule and just show up at the terminal or station an hour early and hope for the best!
Once you disembark in Ica, you will have no problem finding a taxi driver or a moto taxi, depending on how much luggage you have. A taxi should cost no more than $15 Soles from the bus station to Huacachina (it really should be only $10 Soles, but depending on your arrival time it could be up to $15), and a moto taxi should be no more than $7 Soles (generally $6 Soles).
It is recommended to have Google maps available, the physical address (instead of the name) of your hotel, and/or the general area of your hotel memorized, as giving directions to the taxis can sometimes be tricky. They are all super kind and friendly though, take normal precautions, but they will want to try and sell you tours so they treat you like gold.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the city of Ica or the oasis of Huacachina. We used booking.com and stayed at Hotel Hilroq, which we do recommend. Click on the booking.com link to get 10% off your booking, anywhere in the world!
Depending on what it is you are looking for, there will be accommodation to suit you. We chose our hotel because it was on the way out to Huacachina (a 10 minute walk to the oasis), but it was far enough away so we wouldn’t have to be amongst the party crowd we’d been hearing about. And it was well priced. The pool was just a bonus.
It turns out the party crowd is pretty much only at the hostels, so you can stay in Huacachina and still find tranquility. Unless party is what you’re looking for – then you’ve got a couple options. La Casa de Bamboo had real good vibes, we went there for drinks one night.
If you do stay in Huacachina, you will be paying close to double the price to what you pay for the same (sometimes better) accommodations if you’re just outside, or right in Ica (which is only a 5-10 minute moto taxi away).
We do recommend Hotel Hilroq – but a few things to note: the hot water was temperamental and there was a big echo, so if you like to sleep in, it may not be the place for you. Read the reviews and you can find what you are looking for, whether in Ica or Huacachina. We picked the best of both worlds.
We only spent 3 nights in Huacachina and we felt like we were able to get what we wanted to done there in terms of exploration and tourism, but we were ready to leave by the end.
The people trying to sell tours got a bit old, and the prices in the oasis were a bit high in comparison to other parts of Peru. We would go back, but it felt more like a weekend spot. We would probably stay at the beach in Pisco, an hour away, and do a day trip to the desert next time.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend!
Bus Companies: Oltursa, Peru Bus, Cruz del Sur
Online Bus Booking Systems: RedBus, Bus Bud
Accommodation: Booking.com, Hotel Hilroq, La Casa de Bamboo
Restaurants: Ninja Maki, Wild Olive