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The Big Trip. Stephen, Laura, James and Sinead head for an epic adventure: 17 weeks in South America 8 weeks in New Zealand 2 weeks in Fiji 11 weeks in Australia 14 weeks in South East Asia.

Peru...Partying in Arequipa and sandboarding in Huacachina

PERU | Wednesday, 5 August 2009 | Views [5284] | Comments [7]

This entry is written by Laura and not Stephen, for a change!

After another bus breakdown and a very long bus ride we arrived in the city of Arequipa from Cusco. We got a taxi from the bus station to our hostel and as has been the case with so many of our journeys in South America it was a pretty frightening experience. Our driver was crazy and there were a few very close encounters with other cars.

We spent four days in Arequipa. On our first morning there Stephen and James decided they needed to get some hair cuts so they set off to find the barbers the guy in the hostel recommended. James was first up. The hairdresser began cutting his hair with a razor blade and paper scissors… she had no shaver. Stephen caught sight of this and decided he wasn’t having any of that and left to find some where else. Stephen found what he thought was a decent barbers and tried to tell the barber who didn’t have a word of English that he wanted a 3 blade on the sides and a trim on top. Happy that the barber understood he sat down for his hair cut. The barber got the electric razor and shaved everything right off the top, it has been quite a while since Stephens had hair that short. Stephen was gutted he thought he was being so smart but in the end James ended up with the better hair cut and Stephen ended up wearing a hat for the next few days.

We did a bit of the touristy things while in Arequipa, which included going to see another Mummy. The mummy is called Jucinita. She was sacrificed at the top of a volcano by the Incas over 500 years ago. She was only 14. The museum was really interesting. The girl was frozen as soon as she died on the volcano so she was well preserved. We also went to see a convent that’s the size of a small town, its like a city inside a city.Hundreds of years ago a rich widow hand picked her nuns to live here in luxury. They were never allowed to leave the convent once they entered and only saw their families through wooden screens. The most interesting part was when we got to see the barbed wire underwear that the nuns used to wear. It did not look comfortable…! And also a whip they used to scourge themselves with for penance. (thats it in the pic below).

We did the usual sightseeing… Arequipa is a really nice city with a beautiful plaza surrounded by a huge white church and some really nice colonial buildings. Many of the buildings in Arequipa are made of “Sillar” a sparkly white volcanic rock. Arequipa is surrounded by two volcanoes.

                   Plaza, Arequipa

However the best thing about Arequipa was the night life…! The nightlife in most of Bolivia and Peru so far was non existent or just crap. Arequipa had had the best night life wed seen in ages so we felt it was our duty to sample it. We had a couple of really good nights out with people and staff from our hostel.  A night out in South America as we have learned starts early and finishes early, as in 6 am so the recovery period is somewhat longer especially as myself and Sinead also got a real taste for Peru’s national drink, Pisco Sour. A really nice drink, but lethal and gives one hell of a hangover…!  

Our next stop after Arequipa was Huacachina. Huacachina is a tiny town built around an oasis  surrounded by towering sand dunes and palm trees. Its an amazing place and like nothing we had ever seen before. We had heard that this was the place to go for sun and sand boarding.

We spent a few days in a very nice hotel with a pool relaxing and of course we had a go at the sand boarding. Our first attempt at sand boarding involved us deciding to rent some boards and climb the dunes ourselves. It looks easy but its not. Walking up the very high and steep dunes was tough and a pain in the ass really. After I climbed some way up I decided to sit on the board and slide down. On the way down I flipped came off the board and went head first into the sand, at speed as well. I was covered in sand. It all stuck to the sun cream on my face and my arms. It went down my top, down my jeans… it was in my mouth my ears and up my nose. The others could not stop laughing at me. I decided to pack it in and headed to the pool. The next day we did the proper sand boarding. We set off in a dune buggy with our driver who was known as “Schumacher”. A pretty appropriate name considering he was crazy behind the wheel, driving like a mad man flying over the sand dunes and the more people screamed the faster he went. After some crazy driving we got our boards. The best way to do the sand boarding is to lie on your tummy and slide down so this was the method we went for. It was fun and fast. We would slide down the dunes and the driver would collect us at the bottom and bring us to a higher dune… and then a higher one. We got pretty high and pretty fast, and none of us fell off. It was so much fun… After a bit more racing round the dunes we got to watch sunset over the oasis.

While in Huachchina we also went on a trip to the Ballestas Islands. These islands are sometimes called the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”. The islands are small rocky islands off the coast of Peru. They are home to Sea Lions, Humboldt Penguins and millions of birds. The trip was nice but the islands stink. The islands are as famous for the bird shit as it is for the animals. The birds shit all over the island (the shit is known as “Guano”) and every 10 years the shit is collected because it’s a very valuable and expensive fertiliser.

With three weeks until we fly  from Santiago to New Zealand we decided to make our way to Chile. Next stop Arica in the north of Chile.

P.S if your reading the blog please leave us a mesg, wed like to know who’s reading and what ye think, thanks.

Tags: arequipa, huacachina, peru, sandboarding




Hi Their Guys
Glad to see your enjoying youselves. Everytime you seem to call home lately I'm in work unfortunatly. I think blogs great by the way and ye are making me jealous :) Arequipa looks like a beautiful spot and sandboarding sounds like mental craic. I am putting up a few more pics on picasa of our holiday with Sarah and the acdc and U2 gigs. Talk Soon Eamonn

  Eamonn Aug 5, 2009 11:01 PM


Hey dudes, love reading the blogs.They are ery well written-fair play.Ye seem to be having a ball.I'd say the sand boarding was great craic.Went out in Carlow with John and Keih on Sunday night-was good crack.

Talk soon,


  Brian Aug 6, 2009 11:23 PM


I like Laura's story telling way way better..haha sorry stephen!!haha woz pissin' meself laughin bout you gettin sand everywhere laura!!sounds amazing though guys..yis are living the dream while were all stuck ere in silly unsunny ireland:( miss ye:(

  Lisa Aug 8, 2009 12:25 AM


Oh yeah love the new haircut stephen!!!hahahahahaha!!!

  Lisa Aug 8, 2009 12:26 AM


Hi Guys,

Been a while since I had a looked at the photos and reading about your goings on!! All I can say is Wow!! I am jealous ha ha ha ha!!
Take care of your selves guys and Stephen dont worry the hair will grow back..Such a giggle reading Lauras story about the haircuts :)

  Eithne Aug 8, 2009 5:03 AM


Hey thebigtrip,

We really liked your blog and decided to feature it this week so that others could enjoy it too!

Happy Travels!

World Nomads

  World Nomads Aug 10, 2009 12:00 PM


Just did a search whether it would be worth going to Huacachina and your blog came up. Looks very cool, sold!

  Heidy Jun 27, 2012 4:52 AM



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