*As seen in The Logbook
Many people are drawn to deserts. The vastness and seeming emptiness of those dunes have a genuine effect on people’s perspectives. It’s no wonder why many of the great philosophers in the world spent time in deserts meditating and contemplating the mysteries of the universe. During daylight the land seems to stretch forever and at night, far from any distracting light pollution, the sky becomes alive with the brightest stars floating in a darkness so deep that you could almost swim in it.
HUACICHINA DESERT LUXURY CAMP
Within the Ica Valley, settled in the middle of the desert, you can find Huacachina Desert Luxury Camp. Surrounded by dunes, palms and huarangos trees, it is an ideal place for rest and relaxation. We spoke with founder Marco Granda about his business and what has made the Huacachina Desert Luxury Camp such an awe-inspiring destination to visit.
“You can say that tourism, adventure and travelling runs in my family,” he says, “My family had a travel agency that was founded in 1995, so by the time I founded this camp in Ica in 2010, I had a very good idea of what needed to be done and what niches were available.”
Marco’s business was centred around helping connect people to nature and show off the singular beauty of the Ica desert. To achieve this, he chose to combine two fantastic elements of tourism and hospitality, great food and glamping.
GLAMPING. DESERT STYLE.
Marco explains that there is a sensuous element to glamping which is one of the major attractions of any glamping site. Glampers love seeing, hearing and feeling where they are staying and Huacachina Desert Luxury Camp offers something really special in this regard.
At the camp, the guest inevitably feels like they’re in a different world because things are always different in a desert. For instance, the sand is always shifting underfoot and can dramatically change temperature depending on the time of day or the weather. Even the sounds of a fire are different here, especially when it is the only sound and the only light for miles in any direction. This creates the stage for the perfect dining and glamping experience. Combining delicious food, great cocktails and good company with the best in safari style tents.
“If you have never slept in a desert before you couldn’t imagine how different everything sounds,” Marco says, “Many of our guests come from cities around the world and they’re not used to being surrounded on all sides by a natural stillness. After an afternoon of exploring the desert and enjoying the warmth of the sun and an evening of dining, drinking and having a good time everyone sleeps deeper than they have ever slept before.”
In camp, there are twelve imported Sibley tents, offering a twin, double and triple room. They are 2.20m high and 4.5m wide and furnished with bedding, interior carpets (which are very important to stop sand from getting under the sheets), night stand, lamp and luxurious bedding. Outside the tents there is a bonfire area, a dinner, bar and kitchen area as well as toilet areas for men and women.
WHAT GUESTS CAN EXPECT?
Stays usually last a single night and can form part of a larger tour of the area. Generally starting in the AM/PM of the first day guests are treated to the activities of the desert. These include a personalised tour of the Laguna de Huacachina lagoon, opportunities to learn how to sandboard and sandcart rides across the dunes.
In the evening after guests are transferred to the camp they are met with refreshing drinks and cocktails while the chef prepares an exquisite meal based on Parrilla. This delicious meal is then enjoyed with an exquisite bottle of wine.
The following morning breakfast is prepared and served at 8am and guests are then returned to their hotels to continue their journey.
“It is the perfect length for a culinary and unique glamping experience,” Marco says, “It works very well as part of a larger tour of the area.”
A LAND OF SURPRISES
According to Marco, travellers to the region are always surprised that this desert has its own flourishing agricultural sector. There are fields of asparagus, cotton, grapes and others that yield great crops destined for export to Europe, USA and Asia.
In fact, Ica is a land of grapes, where the most precious wines produced in the country come from. It is also the main producer of their grape brandy known as Pisco.
Visits can be arranged to the fine wineries that produce the most recognized wines in the south of the country, such as Vista Alegre, Tacama and Ocucaje. Here guests can learn the artisanal and industrial way to prepare these products.
“As part of the tour guests also have the opportunity to taste the different varieties of wines and Piscos,” he adds, “And the chance to purchase bottles if they wish to take some home.”
And what tour would be complete without a look at the history of the area? During tours to the city guests can visit the Ica Adolfo Bermúdez Jenkinz Regional Museum, which exhibits an interesting collection of archaeological pieces left by ancient pre-Inca civilizations such as textiles, ceramics and mummies.
Marco does not believe that simply satisfying a guest is enough, he believes you have to impress and amaze them. Therefor the tents, the camping area, the toilets and cooking areas always have to be spotless and presentable. The logistics of getting guests to the location have to be smooth, efficient and planned. And finally, when guests are there they have to be engaged and entertained.
“Most of the new guests we have are recommended by previous visitors,” he says, “So building a relationship and making sure they get what they pay for and a lot more and making them feel welcome and at home is a priority.”
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
There are a few things to keep in mind when glamping in the desert. There are no showers available, Marco will be making them available in the future but for now it adds to the beauty of staying a night in the desert. Also, “It is very important to bring sunblock, sunglasses and sun hats,” Marco says, “And also pack at least one jumper and a long pair of trousers. Even during summer time the desert nights can be surprisingly cool.”
“This year we are getting thirty acres of desert to add to our camp and we want to build a permanent area for our tents. This is to reduce the cost of logistics as well as to implement the installation of ablution areas,” Marco reveals, “We also have plans to build a Bora Bora style eco-lodge that is constructed for the desert. This will be a unique project that would fit in very nicely with the aesthetic we already have. These big, creative dreams are easy to have when you’re in Ica, deserts are great for that.”
FULL NAME: Marco Antonio Granda Tataje.
ADDRESS: Av. La Angostura 355 L- 47 Residencial la Angostura Ica – Peru
TELEPHONE NUMBER: (+51) 056-256582 / Cell: (+51) 942 401 695
PRICE: US$170.00 American dollars