Altitude: 1,430 meters (4,647 ft) Population: 4,415 Phone Code: 056
Located just 5 kilometers (3 mi) outside of Ica, this small oasis consists of a quiet lagoon surrounded by sand dunes, palm trees and huarangos (carob trees). A local legend completes Huacachinaâ€™s enchanting atmosphere: when the moon is full you can hear the mournful cry of a woman who drowned herself in the lagoon after discovering her fiancÃ© was killed at war.
Beautiful houses line the lagoon's shores and while the water can be a bit murky at times, it makes a great place to escape from the desert heat after a day of sandboarding or cruising around in a dune buggy. A boardwalk encircles the lagoon, and a variety of enticing restaurants and hotels line the town. According to locals, the lagoon's sulfur-rich waters contain curative properties. Whether or not this theory has merit, you're bound to leave the Huacachina Oasis feeling a little more relaxed than when you arrived.
In recent years, Huacachina has grown in popularity with young backpackers and vacationing Peruvian families. The vibe has changed, with bars going full-tilt until well after midnight even during the week and the whine of dirt bikes on the dunes weaving through the night.