About an hour and a half east of Paracas sits the little oasis town of Huacachina. After some research, we chose the Banana's Adventure hostel for our single night in Huacachina. In addition to hiking the dunes and enjoying some Peruvian mixed drinks, we spent our time dune buggying, sandboarding, and just relaxing by the pool in the woven hammocks.
A lot of the hostels include the option to either dune buggy and sandboard or enjoy a pisco tour in the price of one night's stay. Since we only spent one night at Banana's Adventure, we had to pick between the two and opted to ride the dunes. Our adventure started with boarding the dune buggy and strapping in. The driver plowed up the dunes and we watched the oasis town get smaller and smaller as we zipped across the sand. It was a roller coaster ride up and down the hills, reaching the top of one and speeding back down. People in our dune buggy actually screamed out with joy as if we were in an amusement park. After 30 or 40 minutes of thrilling driving, we parked at the top of one dune and got out to sand board.
"Sand boarding" sounds a whole lot like "snow boarding", however it's much closer to sand sledding. Unless you want to pay 25 soles extra for the stand up board, you're going to be laying down on your stomach going face first down the mountain. Imagine the sledding hill you dreamed of as a kid, one where you could just keep going for a full minute with no fear of running into a tree. Now picture it with sand instead of snow and you have the dunes.
Every dune buggy seemed to pick one of the largest dunes for sand boarding. We watched around us as other tourists sand boarded down, speeding on their stomachs. Since I am neither a fan of sledding nor sand, I said "Hell no" and opted to take pictures instead. One other girl also elected to stay and we watched the rest of our group sled across the sand. When they reached the bottom, our driver yelled at them to keep going and they continued down two more dunes. We met them at the bottom of the third and John admitted that I probably wouldn't have liked it though he had a great time.
The town itself is very beautiful yet very touristy. Walking around we would make bets on how many times we would say "No gracias" to decline offers for restaurants, dunes tours, and pisco tours. You only need a day to explore and you will quickly find that the food is more expensive than other areas of Peru. We did enjoy our time at Banana's Adventure, and we ate at La Casa de Bamboo twice finding that their prices for both food and alcohol were fairly reasonable for the town.
We also spent one evening and one morning climbing the dunes to get a view of the entire town. Since the area is a desert, the temperature varies greatly. We bundled up for our night hike up the dunes but sat around the pool in swimsuits in the middle of the day (though it was still way too cold to get in the water!).