Huacachina and Arequipa, a Desert Oasis and a Colonial Town

Huacachina was a tiny town entirely surrounded by sand dunes. It was beautifully simple and it was nice to be somewhere safe to walk around at night, despite completing a loop of the town in under 10 minutes. We walked to the top of one of the lower dunes to admire the sunset, our first in a while since being in the cloudy cities of Lima and Paracas, and even the towns in the north of Peru for me. It reminded me of my sunrise experience in Namibia on Dune 45, an unexpected trip to another sand dune filled desert.

Our hostel felt like a resort featuring a poolside bar and lounges surrounding the pool, as well as on the rooftop terrace if you wanted to enjoy the view. It was nice to continue the holiday feeling, particularly while I recovered. I didn’t do much for our two days in Huacachina, just rested and enjoyed the view of the sand dunes from my spot by the pool or up on the terrace.

We splurged on our night bus to Arequipa going with Cruz Del Sur, a company we had heard many great things about. It lasted 12 hours so we were happy we had opted for the more expensive, far more comfortable version where I experienced my first enjoyable and restful sleep on the bus.

We were in Arequipa as a gateway to our hike to the Colca Canyon and found it to be a quaint town with a colonial feel to it. We only had a day to explore, which I spent most of utilising the hostel wifi to finish my online Spanish lessons. I’ve found them to be quite beneficial and find I can communicate what I need relatively well now, but only struggle when they immediately reply in fluent, fast Spanish and I find myself sitting there dumbfounded and tell them that no, I actually don’t speak Spanish despite having just communicated with them in Spanish. Peru has certainly been an easier country to navigate in terms of the language, the people we need to speak with often hold a little bit of English given their frequency in dealing with tourists. This has of course been welcome from the complete lack of English in Ecuador, however now that I have more confidence in speaking Spanish it would be beneficial to continue the forced communication in Spanish, rather than have them experience my broken Spanish and simply reply to me in English to make their life easier.

Experiencing yet another town’s main square I identified that all the main squares of South America tend to have a very similar feel. A large grassy area in the middle complete with beautiful plants or trees, a large church or governmental building on one or two sides and the others occupied by restaurants, touristic shops and little convenience stores. However each one has something slightly different to bring to the table which has helped maintain my excitement around them.

On Saturday we took a bus headed for Cabanaconde, a town sitting at the top of Colca Canyon and the place to begin hiking.