This post details my experience with PeruHop's 1 day tour from Lima to the Ballestas and Huacachina. I couldn't find the exact tour I took online, but this one is pretty close (and more expensive). I purchased my tour from the tourist information kiosk near Kennedy Park in Lima. It was $119 USD for the entire day.
Here's the important shit: Both the Ballestas and Huacachina are more than 4 hrs drive from Lima. The bus will pick you up from your hotel around 5am, along with all the other passengers from their hotels, and take you to the Ballestas then Huacachina. There is not much downtime between activities and you are back in Lima by around 11:30pm. It is a LONG DAY but it is a great time!!
Now on to the fun shit:
The Ballestas Islands
1. The islands are known as the "Poor Man's Galapagos". I would be offended if I were the Ballestas, to be honest. But I haven't been to the Gallapegos yet so I can't give you my opinion on whether the Ballestas has earned this reputation or not. Regardless, I really wanted to see penguins in the wild and the Ballestas have them! When you arrive in the little town, the bus drops you off at a hotel for bathrooms/coffee then you walks as a group to where the boats are. The thing the tour info does not mention is that the boat is a speed boat with no cover. So you will need ALL of the sun protection.
2. Almost immediately after leaving the dock, we got into a boat wreck. You can check out the podcast for the full story. The short version is a boat hit ours and we all got wet, but everything was fine and we went on with the tour like it never happened.
Salt stain post boat wreck. Maybe consider non-black attire for this tour!
3. The islands themselves are large rock formations in the middle of the ocean. The animals all hang out on the rocks sunning themselves or napping. They can be a bit hard to see from the boat because they blend in well with their surroundings. They also smell TERRIBLE. There is a whole industry of cleaning the guano off the rocks for use in fertilizer and whatnot. Be prepared to smell some shit on this tour.
1. The oasis in the desert is something I saw in pictures before going to Peru and decided it was a must see. It was truly amazing to see all the sand dunes and experience the desert in this way. The tour takes you on a dune buggy ride followed by sand sledding. Check out the podcast to hear some stories.
2. Bring a mask!! You can buy them in Huacachina but they will be 10 times more expensive there. I bought mine in a tiny market for $2 US and it doubles as a hairband. Make sure to buy one with elastic so that it will stay on. Everything gets blown around/off in the dune buggy. The sand made me cough even with the mask and the smell of the gas from the dune buggies could sometimes be a bit overpowering if you are sensitive to that kind of thing. I enjoyed looking like a girly Mad Max for the day!
3. The sand sledding is no joke. The dunes are so high and the drops can be really steep. My friend did the first round and decided to call it a day.
4. See those people climbing the dune? That shit is hard work!! You have to climb up the sand to get to the buggies and to do the sledding. You don't really have options, so if you have trouble climbing then this may not be the tour for you. I thought I was going to pass out climbing up to the buggy!!
Have you been on this tour? Would you recommend it? Would love to hear from you in the comments!