Did you see my article in July about sandboarding? It looks so cool. All you need is a desert or a decent sand dune…
No experience, of course, is needed if you are going to use the specially polished board to slide head first down the dune, but if you are going to surf it would be a help if you had some prior snowboarding experience. It’s not necessary – but it will mean you will get the most out of your day.
The most frequently visited sandboarding destinations in the world tend to be located in or around deserts and beaches, but there are plenty of other locations that are landlocked within forested areas like Monte Kaolino in Hirschau, Germany where the sandboarding world championships are held every year in July.
There are thousands of places around the world that can be useful to sandboarders. Finding the best spots can be tricky, but experienced dune riders know that it’s all about finding long, steep drops in beautiful surroundings.
In Namibia of course they have enough sand to satisfy even the most fastidious of tastes. The Namib desert, the oldest desert in the world, has some of the largest sand dunes on this planet. There is no better way to experience these wonders, in an environmentally friendly way, than to zoom down them head first on a traditional sandboard or on snowboards especially adapted for speeding down the sandy dunes. The stiff peaks of shifting sand outside Swakopmund are guaranteed to challenge even the most skilled riders. Another recommended place are the cinnamon-red Skeleton Coast Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei near Rehoboth, Namibia where the dunes can be over 1000ft tall.
Further south, near Cape Town, are the Fish Hoek Dunes. These are moderate in size, but good enough. Mount Mayhem is near Johannesburg and it has steep drops over 500ft high with many natural jumping platforms for riders who want to attempt big air tricks.
There are, obviously, hundreds of places to sandboard in the many other deserts across Africa. Just think for a moment of the vastness of the Sahara and the dunes of the Kalahari.
It is now a popular sport in southern and western Australia too. Mount Monster in Adelaide, South Australia attracts massive crowds searching for good dunes. The dunes here can reach heights of over 700ft. Places like “The Bowl,” in Bunbary, Western Australia is popular. The West Coast is favoured for its steep slopes and long runs – also its relative isolation allows sandboarders peace to perfect their art. The Henty Dunes in Tasmania offer the biggest sandhills on the island.
South America has a wide array of spectacular destinations with extreme drop-offs and huge sand fields. Cerro Blanco for instance, in southern Peru, is treacherously steep and only the most experienced riders dare attempt a run down the hill where speeds of up to 50mph can be reached. Further south, near Copiapo, Chile, is Cerro Iman, where an annual sandboarding competition is held. It is another highly recommended area and is ideal for the competition because of the numerous available routes down the hill and the fantastic natural jumps, all of which are extremely fast.
The Middle East, too, has some fantastic sandboarding destinations. The Great Sea of Sand near Siwa, Egypt is home to some of the best sandboarding in the world. With dunes rising as high as 500ft and sloping at angles of 70 degrees or more, it is no amateur course. However, it is an isolated area that requires transport and guides to find the best dunes. This ensures it remains exclusive to the wealthiest or most passionate sandboarders around. A more accessible alternative can be found in Dubai where the Hugo International Sandboarding Championships are held each year in January. Dubai is home to “Big Red,” one of the largest and steepest sand dunes in the Middle East.
It is extroadinary then that the World Championships are held in Germany isn’t it?! However, Monte Kaolino is a huge sand hill, a 120m high mound made from 32,000,000 tonnes of quartz sand. The hill has a slope of about 45 degrees, and the length of descent is about 200 meters. It is located in Bavaria. You can go sandboarding there all summer long, and afterwards take a dive in the swimming pool located at the foot of the hill.
From deserts to dunes…