Ica

Not far south from Lima along the coast of Peru lies the noisy, chaotic city of Ica.  My reason for stopping by Ica (and I’m assuming this is the same reason for most tourists) was to see Huacachina, a tiny artificial oasis smack center amidst giant sand dunes.  It was incredibly underwhelming once I finally set eyes on this gringo attraction, but we brightened our stay by sandboarding and dune buggying for the first time.

Huacachina up close:20150617_145109 IMG_2545

And from a afar:IMG_2535

We opted to stay in the city of Ica, 2 km outside of Huacachina, which was only a 3-5 sole (~$1-1.60) cab or moto-taxi ride away.  Because Huacachina merely exists as a tourist attraction, there is nothing but overpriced restaurants, bars, and hotels along the murky oasis.  From the terrace of our hotel, the massive sand dunes were quite spectacular even from a distance:IMG_2523

I wasn’t too keen on sandboarding at first because I’m no longer an avid snowboarder, but Huacachina might be one of the better places in the world (or at least in this area) to learn.  We were both glad we tried it.  Simply saying it was “fun” and “a blast” cannot remotely convey the incredible experience we had with the International Sandboarding & Sandski School, especially since we got to shred sand in a dune buggy after each run.

Walking up the first dune to learn the basics:DCIM101GOPRO

Waxing our boards between each run:IMG_2551

Sunset!DCIM101GOPRO

Chris and I having fun:DCIM101GOPROIMG_2577

And of course, dune buggying:vlcsnap-2015-06-18-23h31m41s211 vlcsnap-2015-06-18-23h41m37s068

In addition to the artificial oasis of Huacachina, the other attraction Ica has to offer is…wine! Although not the best wine in the world, Ica is the primary city of wine and pisco exports for Peru.  IMG_2542

We did not opt to go wine and pisco tasting with a shit face tour, but we did get slightly drunk touring three bodegas on our own via taxi and colectivo.  (All tastings and tours are free!) First we took a cab from our hotel to Tacama, perhaps the cutest and most typical vineyard of all, and the oldest vineyard in all of South America.  Pink!IMG_2510IMG_2507 20150616_102458

These tastings were modest in size, but they were free, and the pisco was super strong.IMG_2512

For our next tasting our taxi driver dropped us off at El Catador and returned to Ica. The tour and tastings at El Catador were brief and paled in comparison to Museo/Bodega Lazo, which was just up the street from El Catador.  Museo Lazo housed an impressive collection of antiques, including traditional clay “jars” for aging wine that are still used today.IMG_2515

Tasting from the clay jar, using a bamboo stick as a scoop:IMG_2517 IMG_2520

Slightly dazed, we hopped on a colectivo right in front of Museo Lazo that took us all the way back to the main square of Ica.

Ica was a quick and fairly relaxing stop for us because it was a break from all the high-altitude trekking.  Our next stop in Lima would be even quicker, as it was merely a stepping stone toward even more high altitude trekking in the Cordilleras Blancas in the often overlooked northern region of Peru.

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