Riding, 4x4ing and sand boarding in Huacachina...two days of pure fun! Gallery and video below.

Part I - Getting There

I left Lima strung out from getting almost no sleep two of the nights I was there. Parties and party people had little respect for those of us with things to do. I decided to just coast down the panamerican for the 250km to Huacachina. The easy three hour ride turned into a 5hr ride with an hour and a half stop to take half my bike apart diagnosing a dirty fuel injector.
Not too long after I got the bike back together I hit Huacachina. I didn't have much to go on but I was not expecting the traffic and the sheer number of people crowded into such a small place. I also wasn’t expecting the size of the dunes. It was incredible to ride up to. 
I would come to learn that it was because of the holiday marking their independence which apparently lasts a week(?). That also made it difficult to find a hostel. All the prices were jacked up and few were very interested in storing my bike. I finally decided on a place to stay "Hotel Del Bolepo". Run by an awesome guy named Gino and run by the friendliest people I've met on the trip. Perhaps due to my jubilant mood or their amazing hospitality I immediately made friends with the lot of them. 
Gino had a quad out front and I was asking him about where I could go on the dunes. He suggested I go with him the next day. Rad! That night I climbed up the western dune to watch the sunset and get a view of the city.

Part II - Landcruising the Dunes

The next morning I geared up, ran to get gas and then met up with Gino. I followed him straight into the dunes and in my haste that morning forgot to let air out of my tires. I quickly got stuck and jumped off to take air out. I had a lot of trouble getting moving again and really started to think the Heidenau's (tires) I had on wouldn't cut it. They are designed as a 50/50 (dirt/street) long distance tire. Sand dunes weren't considered. There was a hard packed spot not too far away and after getting the bike back on firmer sand and getting a good run up I made it to the top of the first dune where a bunch of guys were waiting with a myriad of vehicles.
There were dirt bikes, quads, atv's, trucks and a buggy piloted by guys young and old. After letting almost all the air out of my tires the dirt bikers were not happy with how stiff the tire still felt. The heidenau's are some seriously hard tires. They took me down to 5psi which is really low for a bike weighing as much as mine and would be impossible to run if not for my rim locks. After this one of the dirt bikers had me follow him around the first couple of dunes which felt like a tryout. After which the group was split 50/50 on whether I could make it. One of the older guys essentially talked me out of it by saying this is a 1 and we will see 20's. I thought that I have a lot of riding I want to still do in South America and decided best to just come back to this area and play around another day (later in this post and worth the scroll down). 
Not to have my day ruined I asked if anyone had an open seat I could jump into. A guy in one of the trucks, Fernando, told me I could go with him. Gino and I quickly ran my bike back to the hostel and then I jumped on the back of his quad to rejoin up with the group. I jumped in the truck and immediately we were off. 
The fun ensued for about an hour before a couple of the quads frantically told us to stop. One of the radiator hoses had come off and our truck had lost all of its coolant. I emptied the contents of my camelback into the radiator after they had reattached the radiator hose. The radiator was huge and are up my water without making a dent. Then 5 mins later, somehow miraculously, a case of water showed up. We filled the radiator and we were back to the fun.
Mile after mile and deeper into the desert we went. I quickly became happy with my decision to leave my bike. The sheer stress on the bike would have been too much to risk. 
Our truck.
Getting stuck.
Just hanging out.
Vast, vast sand dunes.
Halfway through we pulled over for a break and some Pisco (the favorite local moonshine). 
We were back on our way and the way back was much gnarlier. We were crashing over dunes, down ravines and swooping over crevasses. The hills were getting trickier. Steeper with less run-up. The other truck in our group was just the drivers regular car. A diesel Mitsubishi with south of 100hp. 
Then it happened. We ended up in a bowl that the little mitsu was unable to get out of.
The group regrouped and we all sat their rooting on the truck. After 1.5 hrs of failed attempts to run out of the bowl at various angles we gave up and resorted from horse power to man power. 
He launched the truck as far up as he could and we pushed that son of a bitch the rest of the way. A meter at a time we walked the truck up the ramps until it was finally free. 
The rest of the ride back to town was fun and less eventful. We ended up back at the house of Mikey (the driver of the Mitsubishi) for a bbq! The whole day was incredible and I can't thank the guys enough. I got an experience not available to most tourists, an entire day of real adventure with a group of awesome guys and new friends. Sometimes you get lucky in travel and that day was definitely one!

Part III - Sandboarding

I was planning to go back to the dunes with my bike the next morning but at dinner two guys who work at the hostel (Chris and Lorenzo) said they were going to go sandboarding and I could come with them. I wasn't planning on doing the sandboarding because of my strong dislike of guided tours but this seemed like an awesome and different way to experience it. 
Then we started hiking.
And hiking.
More hiking.
You climb to the top of a sand dune and board down the other side.
The desert is huge!
And beautiful.
The steep soft parts you take 2 steps forward for every 3 steps as you sink back down.
Some of the peeks are really steep.
"Sand lizards"
The really steep parts you have to climb with your board or you won't make any progress.

Part IV - The Return of the KTM

After sand boarding I geared up and headed back to the dunes. This time solo. I was planning to just play around on the first couple dunes, get some pictures and not stray past walking distance to the road if I got really stuck. 
I decided to keep a little more air in my tires than the day earlier because I didn't want to destroy them. I figured if it didn't didn't work.
To start you have to ride past the 10 angry dogs that guard the entrance which is very nerve racking while you are trying to speed past the dogs and get used to riding in the sand. One jumped up and bit my leg but didn't get through my gear.
Almost immediately I started getting comfortable keeping my speed up and not getting stuck.
I played around for hours and only had one off.
The last dune back I decided to see if I could get a photo of me jumping it.
And dropping in.
Finally I got one that I think captures the height but unfortunately it missed the highest point and the landing.
Wasn't sure where I'd be framed so I tried some close to the camera as well.
All done and no worse for wear but with a huge smile on my face.


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