Fascinating Legends of Peru: Huacachina Oasis and Ica

The Siren of Huacachina Oasis

In the backpackers’ paradise of Ica, there is a small lagoon called Huacachina amid a vast desert of sand dunes. This oasis is a popular destination for tourists who come to experience the unique desert landscape and the thrill of sandboarding and dune buggy rides. But beneath the surface of this seemingly tranquil lake lies a dark legend.

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Siren of Huacachina Oasis

Legend has it that long ago, a prince and princess lived in this region. The prince was known for his great beauty and bravery, and the princess was renowned for her kind heart and gentle nature. They were deeply in love and spent their days exploring the desert together. However, fate had other plans for them. One day, the prince suddenly passed away, leaving the princess heartbroken. She cried and cried all throughout the area, and her tears collected into what is now the lagoon.

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But the princess’ sorrow did not end there. Shortly after the lagoon was formed, she was sitting by the edge of the water when an evil spirit frightened her. In a moment of panic, she ran into the water to hide, but she was unable to swim. She drowned in the lagoon and was never seen again. To this day, swimmers are warned not to swim in the lagoon, as it is said that the princess’ ghost still haunts the waters, and she likes to take others to the bottom with her.

huacachina lagoon
Huacachina Oasis Lagoon

Some say that the princess’ spirit can be seen wandering the dunes at night, her ghostly figure illuminated by the light of the full moon. Others claim that they have heard her mournful cries echoing across the desert. But even if these stories are nothing more than legends, they serve as a reminder of the power of love and loss, and the importance of respecting the natural world.

The legend of Huacachina is just one of many that make up the rich tapestry of Peruvian folklore. Each story is a window into the culture and history of the country, and they are a testament to the deep connection between the people of Peru and their land. Even though the princess’s story is a sad one, it has become an important part of the culture, something that visitors from all over the world come to hear and learn about.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Huacachina, take a moment to reflect on the legend of the princess and the prince. You will gain a deeper appreciation for the history and culture of Peru, and you might even feel a sense of connection to the land and its people.

The Witches of Cachiche

And just outside of Ica, there is an old witch town called Cachiche. This town used to be filled with the most beautiful and powerful witches in all of Peru. The witches wanted to know all of the secrets of Peru, and to do this required a sacrifice of one of their own. The witch they intended to sacrifice did not want to die and tried to flee the town.

In her attempt to flee, she jumped on top of a palm tree, and the other witches used a magic lasso to try to grab her. Instead of roping the fleeing witch, with each toss of their lasso, they split the palm tree again and again until the palm tree had 7 different heads. The fleeing witch jumped from head to head trying to escape, but not all of the heads were strong, and when she jumped on the 7th head, it broke. She fell and was captured, and taken to be sacrificed.

brujas de cachiche

Right before she died, she put a curse on the tree, saying that if the 7th head ever grew back, that all of Ica would be flooded. In 1998, the 7th head started to grow again, and shortly after, much of the town fell victim to a horrible flood. So now, they make sure that the 7th head never grows back to keep the people of Ica safe.

7 headed palm tree Cachiche
The 7 headed palm tree in Cachiche and our guide.

It is said that, the legend of the 7 headed palm tree is not only famous within the town of Cachiche, but it has also become one of the most popular tales passed down among the locals of Ica. Many locals believe in the curse put on the tree and still today, the 7th head is kept cut to prevent any potential flooding. The town of Cachiche has also become a popular tourist destination, known for its rich history, culture and of course, the 7 headed palm tree.

Moreover, Cachiche is also home to many other legends and stories, many of which are rooted in the town’s rich history of witchcraft and the occult. The town is a melting pot of different cultures, and it’s said that the witches of Cachiche were greatly influenced by the indigenous cultures of Peru, as well as the Spanish and African cultures that were brought over during the colonial period. Witchcraft in one form or another is still practiced in parts of Peru, while the Lima witch market is a popular stop for tourists.

These are just 2 of the many legends of Peru. With such a strong Indian heritage, so many towns, places, natural wonders, and other items have a story that explains or justifies their existence in a rather fantastical and romantic way. Usually, these legends, much like with a religious story, have a moral and a lesson learned. And the widespread knowledge of each legend is a true testament to their strong connection with Peruvian heritage and culture.

What I find so amazing is that where I live, a lake is a lake. It’s there because a spring leaked, or a glacier melted, and it generally leads a fairly repetitive existence. But in Peru, something as typical as a lake can take on a profound, exciting and meaningful existence. It gives each element around you a persona, a character, an energy, and in my opinion, makes Peru come to life.

Holly Brinkman is a researcher and blogger for the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru

About the Author
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Holly Brinkman

Holly is a writer and strategist from Chicago, Illinois, taking a break from reality to spend time volunteering with Karikuy and exploring Peru. She loves nature, the outdoors, meeting new people, and trying new things. An avid traveler, Holly is excited to see what Peru has to offer.

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