South America

A foray into the world of Herbert’s Dune – The paradise of Huacachina, Peru

‘Color streamed into a toe of darkness testing the sand.’ Frank Herbert, Dune

A spectacular destination isn’t only about being popular and civilized. In fact, there are lots of fairy places that haven’t been promoted well enough so far. It takes a passionate backpacker in search of an amazing place, fundamentally different than anything he’s ever seen to truly understand the power behind this heavenly destination. Another thing to be clarified before really starting to describe this oasis of supernatural occurrence is how much psychological implication is needed to take the full out of this experience – it’s really not rocket science.

‘The price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life–we went soft, we lost our edge.’ Frank Herbert, Dune

There are some places in this world that don’t only make a great holiday destination, but a genuine topos for strangely fabulous experiences. From the surroundings and landscape to the activities here, there’s no chance for any tourist to leave otherwise than deeply impressed.

Huacachina is like being to Sahara without having to go to Sahara, experiencing the reality of isolation in great company, having an ignis fatuus without any real optical illusion involved. ‘Too good to be true’ are really words to live by for the almost one hundred permanent residents of the place and, just an hour’s drive away from the Pacific coast, there’s this slice of heaven.

‘Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.’ Frank Herbet, Dune

The city of Ica in Peru is only 8 km far from this fairy land and for a very long time the wealthy families here were the only ones to have known about the place. The huge sand dunes have condamned the place to permanent aloneness, protecting it like their beloved child until almost a decade ago when, because of the groundwater consumption, it ended up being fed from other sources in order to prevent its drying up. Back in the 1940’ and 1950’s, sharply sinking wasn’t a problem and it was then, when it first became a touristic attraction for the upper class in Ica, that was called ‘The Oasis of America’, because of its charm and uniqueness. The Peruvian elite got used to the place, so during the 1990’s there was a massive touristic campaign to attract visitors. And not only did it work, but it created a win-win situation. The amazingly colorful and vibrant oasis isn’t condemned to seclusion anymore, and there has never been a dissatisfied tourist in the history of this place.

‘If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken (Bene Gesserit axiom).’ Frank Herbert, Dune

Today there should be no backpacker thinking of anything else before going to bed but how to make the necessary money to visit it. A traveler’s paradise, aside from the landscapes speaking for themselves, this is the kind of place where sandboarding and dunnebuggy rides can be matched with sophisticated candlelit dinners in any of the fancy restaurants surrounding the lagoon. The dunes of sand stretching several hundred feet high make the perfect destination for any adrenaline lover in seacrh for a new sport to quench the adrenaline rush and for brand new kinds of satisfaction.

But what’s truly impressive about this place is the exotic combination of luxurious vegetation surrounding the lagoon, along with elegant restaurants serving fancy dinners and having all sorts of classy entertainment programs, without forgetting any second about how important is to maintain a taste for adventure. Sunbathing is a great idea anywhere on earth, making you relax and energize for other activities. But sunbathing followed by sand-boarding and an elegant dinner, that’s a wondrous combination you just can’t afford missing!

‘I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain’ Frank Herbet, Dune

For those of you more buoyant, taking a long walk on the sand dunes can be compared to mountain climbing and having a panoramic view on the oasis is really worth the effort. Plus, you get to consume some of the calories you’ll be gaining from the rich dinner feasts! Especially at sunset, the lights falling on the sand and the blue-green lagoon make it look fairy, just like in the post cards your parents got when you were little, the ones you never imagined you’ll see with your own eyes.

‘The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience’, Frank Herbert, Dune

The entire view is even more spectacular if you’ve got enough will to cimb to the top of the sand dunes and have a panoramic view of Ica at night. The foreground’s this amazing piece of heaven, with light reflecting on the water and the foreground is going to look like a sea of sand, an optycal illusion of the dessert, a phantasmagorical, fictional place with fairies and pixies to watch all over the place.

Dune buggy may not sound very appealing at first, but since you don’t have to be a professional to experience new things, that’s a great way to recharge your batteries. Renting a boat or having a cold beer at a bar may seem very relaxing, but mixing up different and apparently incompatible types of fun is what makes this place so colorful and alive.

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