Sandboarding in Europe!One would be surprised to find a sandboarding site in Europe, which is considered to be the hallowed turf of skiing. But Monte Kaolino in Hirschau, Germany, happens to be the host of the annual Sandboarding World Championships. It is also the only place to have a lift which ferries people to the top of the 120m-tall dune.
Sandboarding may seem like a fun sport, but wait until you hear this―in skiing, lifts take you to the top of the slope, and all that's left for you is the thrill of waltzing down. Sand dunes, on the other hand, are a different ball game altogether, since it is impossible to build lifts in these areas. Therefore, sandboarders need to be extremely fit to climb these dunes (in the hot weather, mind you), before the fun part begins.
Well, there is the option of getting hold of a dune buggy or an all-terrain vehicle, but it kind of kills the macho-ness of the sport. So, let's gather our wits, and draw up all the strength we can, before we head out to these fabulous sandboarding destinations.
The Middle East
▶ Siwa, Egypt
▶ Big Red, Dubai
The most happening sandboarding happens where the deserts are―so the obvious place to begin with has got to be the Middle East. In fact, Egypt is actually believed to be the country where this sport originated. The Great Sea of Sand near Siwa, Egypt, is considered to be one of the top sandboarding sites in the world. With dunes rising as high as 500 feet, and slopes of 70 degrees or more, amateurs need to stay away from this one. Also, the area happens to be smack dab in the middle of nowhere, which means that only the truest sandboarders at heart can make it here.
Dubai is a hot-shot destination for all intents and purposes, as it even has a humongous skiing facility, despite being located in a searing, hot desert. But it's these hot deserts that we're interested in, at the moment, and Dubai's sandboarding glory is the 'Big Red' (also known as Al Hamar), a massive 300-feet high sand dune. Dubai is also home to the Hugo International Sandboarding Championships, held annually in conjunction with the Dubai Shopping Festival in January.
▶ Swakopmund, Namibia
▶ Sossusvlei, Namibia
▶ Cape Town, South Africa
▶ Johannesburg, South Africa
The southern region of Africa is home to the Namib desert, estimated to be the oldest desert in the world. The places which beckon sandboarders are Swakopmund, on the coast of northwestern Namibia, and the Skeleton Coast Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei, in the southern part of the Namib desert. The dunes here are massive, some of which can measure up to 900 feet. Needless to say, only the extreme thrill seekers head here.
Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa also have some fantastic sites for sandboarders. Close to Cape Town are the Fish Hoek Dunes, which are not as menacing as the ones in Namibia, and are suitable for beginners as well.
▶ Cerro Blanco, Peru
▶ Duna Grande, Peru
▶ Cerro Iman, Chile
South America's varied topography places the fertile Amazon plain in the vicinity of the most arid deserts in the world. We're not interested in the bountiful Amazon at the moment, it's the deserts we're fancying.
The sand dunes in Peru, are seriously
tall. The Duna Grande, located in the valley of Las Trancas, Nasca, measures an imposing 1,760 meters, and has attracted sand boarders from all over the world. Close in range lies Cerro Blanco, the tallest sand dune in the world, measuring 2,078 meters, with only the hardcore professionals taking a go at it. Some do attempt gravity-defying drops, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph while descending.
Going southward, you can head to Cerro Iman, near Copiapo, Chile, where an annual sandboarding competition is held. The event attracts sandboarders from the world over.
Remember to be Cautious
▶ Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area, Michigan
▶ Sand Master Park, Oregon
▶ Jockey's Ridge State Park, North Carolina
▶ Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Sandboarding in Michigan? You'll definitely assume we're kidding. But the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake comprises 2,000 acres of mighty sand dunes, all of which are perfect for sandsurfing and sandboarding.
The Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon, is considered to be the world's premier sandboard park, where novices can even take private lessons in sandboarding. Besides, the park also has dune buggy tours, and a sand sculpting arena.
Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina, boasts of being the best sandboarding destination on the east coast. While sand sledding is fairly common, you do need a permit to sandboard here, and are allowed to do so only between October and March.
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado seems oddly placed in the middle of the Rockies, but are a haven for sandboarders. The park has dunes as tall as 750 feet, considered to be the tallest in North America. Mind you, it's a three-quarter-mile trek from the parking lot to the first dunes, which means that you need to be armed with food, water, and a lot of sunblock.
Sandboarding is an extreme sport, with its own set of risks. Therefore, if you happen to be a novice, ensure that you adhere to all the safety protocols explained to you by your instructor. Indulging in stunts while being unprepared can cause serious trauma, or could even be fatal. If you happen to be experienced, you have all the more reason not to get carried away with the thrill, since you are aware of the risks involved. Always make sure that you are following prescribed sandboarding etiquette at all times.
The thrill of any extreme sport can be heady and exciting beyond words. Do make it a point to pick the right gear and choose the right conditions to sandboard at most, if not all, the destinations mentioned here.