Huacachina is an increasingly popular destination on the well-trod traveler route south from Lima on the way to Nazca and then east to Cusco. Sitting in the desert two miles west of Ica, its huge dunes make it much visited for its sand-boarding.
Huacachina is always visited via nearby Ica by taxi. Ica itself can be accessed by road from Lima to the north, and from Arequipa to the south.
Duration: 5-6 hours
Huacachina's position close to the Carretera Panamericana Sur, which is probably Peru's best road, and within an easy weekend trip south from the capital, makes booking a private transfer or taking a bus-taxi combination on this route a good option for travelers. This is also probably the most common way to approach Huacachina.
The first part of the journey is to Ica, on the route south after Pisco and the Paracas Reserve. A private transfer trip commonly takes in these destinations and Nazca to the south along with Huacachina in a long weekend trip, and has the advantage of not needing to detour via Ica en route. Ica is in itself a pleasant stopover, with a great musuem and some of Peru's best wineries, although Huacachina, as with the Paracas Reserve and the Nazca Lines, are more popular destinations.
Buses run at least hourly throughout the day/week from Lima to Ica in around 4.5 hours of travel time. Bus companies plying the Lima-Ica route include luxury operator Cruz del Sur. In Ica, switch from bus to taxi for the half-hour run to Huacachina.
Huacachina is slightly too far from Lima to do a day trip here, so if you wish to visit you would likely need to overnight in Pisco/Paracas.
Duration: 12-13 hours
Road travel from Arequipa direct to Ica and then to Huacachina is also possible. The main advantage of a private transfer is the ability to stop off along the way, and so because of the lack of obvious stops on this journey private transfers are less common than from Lima to Huacachina.
Buses are mostly used for the Arequipa to Ica run, followed by taxi as in the previous option. Buses take about 12 hours to make the journey. Cruz del Sur have three to five daily departures, all overnight, from Arequipa's Terrapuerto, the main city bus terminal.
Duration: 17-18 hours
You could approach Huacachina from Cusco, but the first part of the journey, from Cusco to Ica, is much longer and so there are less direct buses. Two Cruz del Sur buses do make the run from their terminal in Cusco to Ica, with travel time 16 to 17 hours. To get to Huacachina, then take a taxi as per the previous options.