Enter Sandmen. And Women. Sandboarding in Ica!

Hello and welcome to the first blog post of Karikuy Volunteer Program 2011! My name’s Stu and I’m one of three volunteers kicking things off in this first week of this year’s project. I arrived at the Karikuy house last Saturday, the 28th May, and after a couple of days of settling in, a group of us headed to Ica with Julio. We enjoyed various activities during our time in the Ica region, some of which my fellow bloggers are going to mention in the days to come. But it falls to me to tell you about sandboarding! The imposing and iconic sand dunes surrounding the oasis of Huacachina dominate the landscape of the town. Sand, everywhere you look! Here’s a shot of the pool at our hotel, Huacachinero:

See what I mean?!

It was the second day of our two-day Ica trip. Ania (my girlfriend and fellow Karikuy volunteer) and I had spent a wonderful lazy morning relaxing by the aforementioned pool (we’re backpackers: we don’t usually get to stay in a place that has a pool!). The afternoon’s activity could not have been more different. We were met outside our hotel and hopped into a dune buggy. After a quick stop to stash our bags – and for me to strap on a pair of very fetching eye goggles – we hit the dunes!

Those who are about to board salute you!

I thought that the sandboarding would be our main activity here and that the dune buggy is purely a means of transportation. Easy mistake to make, but wrong nonetheless! The buggy is a ride in itself. The four of us: myself, Ania, Sal and Jill, buckled in and within minutes we were bucking up and down the dunes! Some bright spark has designed these vehicles so that the exceptionally soft and strong areas of the body are used to absorb any shock from the ride, namely the neck and groin! But all joking aside, it was great fun, akin to being on a rollercoaster!


Our driver seemed to enjoy himself too and took us up and down the steep-banked dunes at high speed before making a stop for some photos.

Sand, as far as the eye can see! L-R that's me, Ania, Sal and Jill.

Then it was time for the main event: sandboarding! We made three stops in total. We were each given a board which was waxed for speed. Then you have two options: if you’re a snowboarder or perhaps a skateboarder, you can strap your feet in and board down the dunes. I am neither of these things and so went with the second option: lying on my front! Sal did have a go standing up. Well played to him, it was a good effort, but personally I’m going to stick with the easy way!

About to go over the edge. Note the angle of the buggy's front wheels!
From the top...
... to the bottom! In about 12 seconds!

It really was an incredible thrill! The speed you get on a small piece of board on sand is really surprising! At the same time, it also felt very safe. I was glad of the goggles to protect my eyes and I recommend keeping your mouth shut as you hurtle down the dunes at speed, although I may have broken my own rule to shout ‘Yipppppeeeeee!’ a few times. As I said above, we did three runs in all, each steeper and/or longer than the last. Have a look at some of our best ones:









Our trip to Ica was incredible and if you’re coming to Peru, I thoroughly recommend it!

Huacachina Oasis

Stuart is a blogger and researcher for the Karikuy volunteer program. Visit www.karikuy.org/volunteer for more information.


Hi, I'm Stuart! I'm from Brighton on the south coast of England and I volunteered at Karikuy in June 2011. I'm a broadcaster and journalist and previously worked for commercial radio stations in the UK before taking a year to travel in India, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. At the time of writing I've been travelling for over eight months (three of those in South America). This is my first visit to both South America and Peru. You can read my personal travel blog at http://aniaandstu.blogspot.com/ My professional ambition is to work for the BBC. I'm a huge football fan and I support Tottenham Hotspur, a Premier League team from North London. In my spare time I enjoy performing comedy on stage, including sketch comedy and improvisation. I hold a world record on URDB.org for reciting a tongue twister on live radio!

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