Inside Peru's Hidden Desert Oasis

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The oasis is an unexpected retreat in the south of Peru.

When thinking of Peru, images of desolate tropical oases in the midst of sprawling sand dunes probably don't come to mind. But in a country with a multitude of environments—from the peaks of the Andes Mountains to the Peruvian Amazon—that's just what you'll find. 

About 200 miles south of Lima, tucked away on the outskirts of the town of Ica in southern Peru, sits the oasis of Huacachina. Formed by a small natural lake, the area has become a popular vacation destination for those in nearby towns. A small village circles the oasis, but beyond that, you'll only find miles of desert. 

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There's only a faint outline of the Andes Mountains in the distance and the lush jungles of the Amazon are a world away. The area more closely resembles the Sahara Desert than anything else you'll find in the country. And while not considered a tourist destination at the level of the Sacred Valley or Machu Picchu, Huacachina is a celebrated national treasure that's proudly featured on the Peruvian 50 Nuevo Sol note.

But the future of the lagoon is uncertain. According to the Peruvian Times, Water stopped flowing into the lake in the 1980s and local farmers, who've been using the water for their homes, have depleted the already endangered lagoon. Efforts to save the oasis began in 2015 when locals started pumping water into the area from a local farm. By 2016, the lake had risen nearly 10 feet.

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Due to their efforts, the lake has been saved, at least temporarily, and the country is working on plans for a more permanent solution. In the meantime, those who venture out to the remote area are treated with a truly unique display—one that highlights the beauty of Peru's contrasting terrain.