Huacachina (18 pics)
Huacachina is a village in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru. It is located in the Ica Province, near the city of Ica in the Ica District. Huacachina has a population of 115 (1999).
Huacachina is built around a small natural lake in the desert. Called the "oasis of America," it serves as a resort for local families from the nearby city of Ica, and increasingly as an attraction for tourists drawn by the sports of sandboarding and taking dune buggy rides on sand dunes that stretch several hundred feet high.
Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.
Currently, private landowners near the oasis have installed wells, in order to access the groundwater. This has had the effect of drastically reducing the level of water in the oasis. To compensate for this water loss, and preserve the oasis as an aesthetically pleasing destination for tourists, the city began a process of artifically pumping water into the oasis.