Huacachina: by definition, a fun stop in Peru outside of the regular Cusco – Arequipa – Lima route. This little oasis in the middle of the desert is perfect for adventure-loving folks.
We got more adventure than we expected on our sand boarding/dune-buggy tour, though, when we chose to latch onto the Peru Hop crew‘s tour, and take off toward the sand dunes.
Our driver took off on the roads of little Huacachina, zipping and swerving through the paved streets. We cut a few people off in an intersection, but kept on (as you do, in South America), when suddenly in the distance we could hear the faint whistle of a police siren …
Of course, we ignored it.
Carrying on squealing with excitement, we made our way through a rural neighbourhood with the giant sand dunes now visible in the distance … the siren got louder.
Next thing we know, a transit police officer on a motor bike is next to our buggy, signaling for us to pull-over.
Of course, we keep going.
The transit police driver speeds up, and pulls a quick manoeuvre in front of our buggy to “encourage” us to slow down and stop. But I suppose the transit police driver neither expected his back wheel to give out, nor his entire bike to topple over on top of him.
Now with something to prove, the policeman stood up, wiped himself off, and marched angrily toward our buggy.
We all sat there quietly while the drivers negotiated with the man and after about 15 minutes, we were off again! But only to a police checkpoint … where we were greeted by federal police officers (equivalent to the FBI).
Surrounded by at least 20 officers and 8 police vehicles, we had no choice but to wait until the commotion was resolved.
Side note: when you pile 12 touristas together in a vehicle, surround them by authorities, and don’t tell them what is going on, they come up with their own notions. We were ready for the zombie apocalypse, all having chosen our weapons (samurai sword, for me) and the actors that would play our characters should we perish (Morgan Freeman has such range, he could have played any of us).
Eventually, the owner of the company came to rectify the situation, and without a word (in Spanish or English) our driver took off again on what was one of the craziest rides of my life.
In the end, we still enjoyed the sunset and slid face-first down enormous piles of sand. I even took a small (invisible) jump, and nearly bruised my pelvic bone (but that’s another story, for another time!).