Last Updated on September 4, 2021
Sandboarding is an activity that takes inspiration from surfing but is practiced on sand dunes. It is a transversal sport that those who know surfing might already practice. To practice it, all you need is a board and a sand hill. It can be practiced in various locations around the world, but it is particularly popular in South America where it attracts thousands of tourists in paradisiacal locations such as Huacachina – an oasis in the Peruvian desert considered the Mecca of sandboarding.
It’s called an extreme sport, partly because it’s not easy to reach the top of a dune, and also because you can reach very high speeds on the way down. Compared to snowboarding, it requires climbing mountains of sand on foot without being able to rely on ski lifts. But on the plus side, it can be practiced year-round since unlike snow, sand never melts. And while not entirely risk-free, sandboarding makes for a family-friendly activity enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
All over Latin America today sandboarding is a moderately popular boardsport and you can take part in annual competitions such as the Sandboarding World Cup. In other parts of the world, this activity remains exclusive to a few tourist resorts, but they have made a real business out of it: the cities of Florence in Oregon, USA and Hirschau in Bavaria, Germany have created two sports complexes entirely dedicated to sand sports; while near León in Nicaragua it is possible to take part in “volcano boarding” tours – a variant of sandboarding practiced on the active volcano Cerro Negro. Sandboarding tours are also becoming increasingly popular in Australia, in locations such as Lancelin and Kangaroo Island.
But Africa is the continent where this sport has the greatest potential: in Egypt, sandboarding is practiced near the oasis of Siwa and this should not surprise us all that much since the country has claimed this sport. Some claim, in fact, that in ancient Egypt it was customary to glide through the dunes with a wooden board. Sandboarding can also be practiced in Morocco, amidst the sound of the wind moving the dunes, the footsteps of camels and the wheels of jeeps driving across the soft desert sand. The perfect place to ride the sand waves is in the Erg Chebbi desert, the “sea of sand”. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar have also recently expanded their tourist offerings thanks to this sport. In the boundless desert areas one can find expanses of sand forming large dunes of different heights.
Sounds like fun? Why not join a sand surfing class with private instructors to learn the ropes of this new sport and how to perform jumps and tricks on the dunes. Whether you like it or not, sandboarding is here to stay and it is a matter of time before it gets the recognition it deserves as an official sport – and who knows, maybe it will find a spot in the Olympics some time in the future.
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