Huacachina is a beautiful island oasis we visited while traveling south of Lima, Peru. We spent the afternoon in Huacachina after returning from our flight over the Nazca lines. Several in our group opted to ride a dune buggie up the sand dunes and surf down on body boards. I, however, an not a fan of sand in general and especially near my face. So I, along with the rest of our group spent several hours exploring the lagoon and its surrounding oasis. During our exploration I learned of the Legend of Huacachina.
Huacachina is made up of two Quechua words – Wakay meaning “to cry” and china meaning “young woman.” 1 So, Huacachina means young crying woman, named after the legend of its creation. There are several variations to the legend but they all start out with a beautiful young Inca princess. In most of the accounts, the princess was in love with a handsome prince, but alas he passed away suddenly. The princess cried so much that her tears created the lagoon. 2 The princess then would sit by the lagoon pining for her lost love. This is where the story starts to deviate more significantly.
In one account the princes was startled by a hunter while bathing in the lagoon. She runs from the lagoon, and as she does so, the folds of her mantle stream behind her creating the surrounding sand dunes. 1,3 In other accounts she sees him watching her in her mirror and runs, creating the dunes. Another variant states the when the woman sees the hunter she drops her mirror and that creates the lagoon. 4 All accounts do agree that the princess becomes a siren, a mermaid, that lives in the lake to this day tempting swimmers…
Located five hours south of Lima, the desert oasis Huacachina is home to an extraordinary adventure tour called the dune buggy and sandboarding tour. This tour is both thrilling and jaw-dropping, transporting you deep into the desert to see the huge sand dunes on the coast. These ancient mountains of sand are beautiful and surreal. And adventurous travelers are welcome to try sandboarding down the dunes!