Located five hours south of Peru’s capital Lima, the desert oasis Huacachina has a population of only 115 people, but I’m officially putting my hand up to become resident number 116.
This isolated villa was built around a small natural lake in the middle of the desert and established as a spa and beauty resort for wealthy Peruvians back in the ’40s. It’s such a magical spot that it has even been immortalised on the back of the Peruvian 50 Nuevo Sol note.
A number of luxurious hotels line the lake’s edge and the water itself is thought to have healing powers, although these days tourists are advised not to swim in the lagoon and instead opt for their hotel pool.
Nowadays, the majority of visitors head to Huacachina to get involved in the adventure sports on offer in the surrounding sand dunes, inclduing dune buggy racing and sand boarding.
Huacachina is an easy stop along Southern Peru’s so-called “Gringo Trail” that also includes capital city Lima, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, the deep earthly fold of the Colca Canyon and the sea lion-laden Ballestas Islands.
Once your adrenaline has maxed out, you can go on a winery and Pisco tour, check out the local archaeology museum or take a scenic flight to view the famed Nazca Lines from above.
(All images: Huacachina)