Sandboarding in Peru: Not Just Huacachina

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In a country famous for its imposing mountains, archaeological sites and rainforests, it is possible to come across another element that makes Peru an even more unique destination: its sand dunes, which are among the tallest in the world! Huacachina has become the Mecca of sandboarding, but there are plenty of locations across the country where it is possible to surf on sand dunes. 

Facts about sandboarding in Peru

Peru is a relatively small country with an incredibly diverse landscape: you can find beaches, mountains, forests, jungles, and even snow… but sand dunes are the real deal. Duna Grande ("the big dune" in Ica) is in fact the second largest sand dune on the planet, and the whole region - which includes the world's number #1 sandboarding destination, the natural oasis of Huacachina - is covered by incredibly steep and spectacular white sand dunes. And white is not the only color you will find in Peru...

Rainbow Sand Dunes

Colored Sand Dunes in Peru Rainbow Mountain
Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain. Photo courtesy of
Johnson Wang.

The Peruvian Andes have something truly unique to offer: Vinicunca, also known as Montaña de Siete Colores ("Mountain of the Seven Colors"), or Rainbow Mountain in English. This mountain, located in the Cusco region, is covered by seven differently colored layers of sand, naturally occurring due to its mineral composition: pinkish clay, white quartz, red claystones, green phyllites, brown fanglomerates and yellow sandstones all contribute to its appearance. The most interesting fact about the colors of this mountain? They only appeared a few years ago! Vinicunca has been historically covered by a thick layer of snow and ice, which sadly started to disappear as a result of climate change. It was around 2015 that the mountain started showing its true colors, and it is now accessible for hiking.

Snowboarding vs Sandboarding in Peru

Speaking of snow: the Peruvian Andes comprise some of the tallest peaks and glaciers in America, yet snowboarding can't be practiced on most of them. About 700 glaciers are melting as a result of global warming, unable to build up enough ice in the winter to make up for the loss of snow in the summer. There is only one main ski "resort" in Peru, located on the Pastoruri Glacier, which is unfortunately also shrinking. The future of snowboarding in Peru is far from bright, but sand dunes are here to stay.

How popular is sandboarding in Peru?

Sand boarding, sand sledding and sand skiing are becoming more and more popular in Peru, for obvious reasons. Ica is surrounded by the largest sand dunes in South America, and some of the tallest in the world, attracting passionate sand surfers from all around the globe. The Peru Sandboarding Cup and Sandboard World Cup are both hosted there, and much of the economy of the region revolves around sandboarding tours and the manufacturing of "tablas de sandboard".


Sand dunes of Peru

Where to sandboard in Peru? The sand dunes surrounding Ica are the most popular, but there are small hills closer to the capital Lima, and many less known hidden gems throughout the country.

Sand dunes near Ica, Peru
Sand Dunes near Ica, Peru.

Lima region

Dunas de Asia



Small coastal dunes near the municipality of Asia, between 20 and 80 meters tall, ideal for beginners. These are the closest option for sandboarding near Lima.


Ica region

Huacachina



The only natural desert oasis in South America, completely surrounded by sand dunes.

Cerro Blanco



Located near Nazca, this is the largest sand dune in the world!


Pisco and Paracas region

Pampa de Ocas, Pisco Desert



Extensive area of ondulating sand dunes in the Pisco Desert, popular for both sandbording and sand duning. The dunes are relatively small.

Laguna Inmaculada, Pisco Desert



Steeper dunes in the Pisco Desert, up to 200 meters tall, located near the "Oasis Costa Rica". Tours can be easily arranged from either Pisco or Paracas including both dune buggy and sandboarding.


Trujillo region

Conache Sand Dunes



Series of dunes surrounding the Conache Lagoon

Las Dunas Cañoncillo, Pacasmayo



Dunes located near Bosque el Cañoncillo, a tiny peculiar forest in the desert.

Dunas de Laramie, Chao, Virú




Chimbote region

Duna Huamanchacate / Duna Terror, Coishco



The dune of Huamancachate or "terror dune" has gained a lot of popularity recently, especially amongst sandboarders. The dune has different types of terrain, which allow for various types of sandboarding styles such as slalom (descent between flags), boarder cross (race between several riders) and big air (jumps with maneuvers in the air). The terror dune is located between the valley and the hills of Coishco, close to the fishing town of Chimbote.


Arequipa region

White Sand Dunes, Pampas De La Joya



White desert dunes near Arequipa.


What to wear sandboarding in Peru

Peru's sandboarding locations have a desert climate with high temperature differences between day and night. The best sandboarding clothes to wear sandboarding include closed-toe shoes and cotton socks, lightweight shirts and long trousers, and a jacket for early mornings and evenings.