Travel & Places Other - Destinations

The Legend of Huacachina

Look at the back of the 50 sole bill and you will see a picturesque lagoon. Did you know that you can visit this beautiful sight in person? Just a few hours south of Lima, on the way to the Nazca lines, Huacachina is a small Peruvian village built around a natural oasis in the beautiful desert. Once a playground for Peruvian elite, this resort is now ruled by travelers looking to relax and get a thrill on the surrounding sand dunes. The town is centered around a small lagoon fed by a natural spring and framed by leafy green palms.

Legend has it that Huacachina was created when a beautiful girl was wandering through the desert near her house, holding a mirror. When she raised the mirror to her face she realized a man was watching her from behind. Stunned she dropped their mirror and it transformed into the water. Here is where the legend gets fuzzy, the girl either fled the scene and her hair created the dunes that surround the oasis or she is still living as a mermaid in the lagoon.

Another, more tragic legend, says that a young woman and her lover used to spend their afternoons strolling the countryside in Ica. Right before their wedding, her love dropped dead. She was overcome with terrible sorrow and cried so much that her tears formed a lake. As she sat by the lake one day, an evil spirit in the form of a man tried to rape her. She jumped into the lake, and the water gods protected her with a mantle of white snow. She became trapped underneath the snow and drowned, and now every full moon she floats over the oasis, cloaked in sparkling white light. Locals say that every year she drowns one swimmer as a sacrifice to the lake gods who protect her.

Whatever the story behind the "crying woman" (Huacachina in Quechua), the oasis is an excellent place to vacation. Try your hand at sand boarding down massive dunes, party with the backpackers who come through town, or explore nearby Paracas National Park.


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