For everyone who’s enjoying good old snowboarding, I bring you a new adventure with a twist – sandboarding!
Sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding or skating, but with a far more interesting twist – you will be riding wild dunes, differently shaped, with different heigh. Each dune is an experience on its own, with its changing landscape during the night.
This is an activity you can practice basically everywhere where you can find deserts and dunes – from North America to Africa, but there is no sandboarding experience like the one you can get in Morrocco.
Sandboarding the largest desert in the world has its specific charm, and here I will explain to you what you need to make the dream come true.
As I already said, sandboarding is an activity very similar to snowboarding. It also combines elements of surfing and skating. The ability to hold your balance and board on the dunes is a skill that can be mastered and crafted over time.
Sandboarding can be very fun, and tourists on vacation near the deserts are usually spending a day or two on this activity. However, sandboarding can also be very beneficial to your health, because it is providing that adrenaline rush you are looking for, and you are training all your muscle groups.
Being able to experience the desert from another perspective, while being directly exposed to the sun and sand is perfect for all those adrenaline junkies who are always on a verge of finding something new and different to experience.
If you are having any health issues or heart problems, it is not recommended to go sandboarding. This is because this activity will expose you directly to the sun and heat, and even during the nights the temperature might not come down. Pro tip: if at any moment you feel like the heat is too much for you to handle, you should stop the sandboarding.
Sandboarding is a sport best watched to learn. Take a look at this video!
If you’ve ever surfed or skated, the motion is similar. Only the sand responds faster than water and slower than asphalt.
GO SLOW! Falling onto the sand at full speed isn’t like falling into a pillow; it’s like being shot-blasted. It’ll take “road rash” to a whole new level.
Watch a camera feed from a master of the sport!
Sandboarding is very tightly connected to the deserts, due to the nature of the activity itself. However, wherever you can find a desert with dunes, you can do sandboarding. This applies to all continents without exceptions.
Sand dunes tend to form around mountain ranges, where prevailing winds hit impassible walls. As the air rises or dissipates, dust and sand fall onto the valley floor, creating sand dunes.
With sand dunes on nearly every continent, ranging from sea level to almost 10,000 feet in elevation, in both Northern and Southern hemisphere, any time is a good time for sandboarding somewhere in the world!
Generally, you want to avoid wet sand. You also want to avoid the scorching heat of mid-summer!
So you should be careful and avoid the summer peaks when the sun is the strongest. Perfect weather conditions for sandboarding are during desert wintertime. If you’re sandboarding in the temperate climes, then aim for a transitional month, best in mid-autumn before the winter snows hit.
Here is a list of the most popular places around the world where you can craft your sandboarding skills. For even more locations, visit the sandboarding Wikipedia page.
The biggest and best-known hot desert is the Sahara one – with an impressive surface of 9.2million square kilometers of just sand and nothing else. This vast area gives you plenty of space to go practice sandboarding.
What makes sandboarding really fun is the fact that it is very likely that the landscape of a place will change overnight, due to the strong winds that are blowing. This is why it is said that once you ride a dune, you will never ride the same one again.
Sahara desert is shared between several countries, but the ones that seem to have developed this activity the most are Morocco and Egypt. These two countries have made it possible even for tourists to come and enjoy the dunes.
With the title of the tallest sand dunes in entire North America, this park yearly attracts many people, so expect a little bit of crowding. Great thing is that they have the dunes divided by the experience levels (from beginners to pros), so everyone can choose the one according to their needs.
The previous dunes took the title of being the tallest ones, and these ones took the title of being the oldest one in the country – over 100.000 years old! The area stretches for more than 40 miles in with and goes up to 500 feet in height.
I will finish this list by awarding another title to this monument located in New Mexico – the largest gypsum dunes in the world. White sand, and mild weather – what else could you possibly ask for?
The oldest proclaimed sandboarding spot title goes to this marvelous place located in the heart of Europe. It is hard to imagine that you can go sandboarding in Germany, but hey, it really does bring the element of surprise, doesn’t it?
Since I started giving the titles to every spot, it would be highly inappropriate not to crown this place as the one with the best view you can experience while sandboarding. With the breathtaking view of the Pacific ocean, what’s left for you is to enjoy – and to be careful not to fall over the edge.
If you are really taking the adrenaline to the extreme, sandboarding the tallest dune in the world is the activity for you. All you have to do is to pack your things and book a ticket to Cerro Blanco.
The only skill you will need for sandboarding is navigation. Sometimes the sandboarding can drag you deep into the desert, and if you lose track of the route you used to get there, it becomes very easy to get lost. This is why you need to make sure that you can navigate through this situation.
Sandboarding is generally considered to be a dangerous activity that can be very safe if you do know what you are doing and if you are always very careful. As I already explained, the biggest issue that can happen is you falling from the board while going over the dunes.
This can happen inadvertently as a consequence of a much bigger issue – a heat stroke. This is why it is of imperative importance to carry protective clothing and a hat at all times.
rankly speaking, there is not much big wildlife you can encounter in the desert. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot find any living organism at all.
A common misconception is that there are no animals in the desert. This can be true for some regions, but if you are going sand surfing the Sahara desert you might see camels, for example.
The large animals are not your concern. Beginners are often not aware of the much smaller, and more dangerous living beings in the desert, like scorpions. There are numerous types of scorpions and most of them are not poisonous, but still, you need to be careful because you never know.
The good thing is that most of these small desert habitats are not active during the day. They also don’t stand the direct sun, and become active and come out of their shelters only in the late evening when the sun is down, and during the night.
Sadly to inform you that sandboarding is not made for those physically unfit. First of all, for a person to go sandboarding, he/she needs to be able to endure the heat. The risk of a heat stroke is very high in general, especially in the desert where there is no shelter.
Add to the equation that you are always moving and performing physically demanding activities, and you have the recipe for disaster.
Some moderate-level dunes can be easily overcome by beginners and those who are not very fit. Make sure not to exaggerate, because later on, you can end up with muscle inflammation.
Being perfectly healthy is the only and most important requirement you need to follow. If you are healthy, you will easily get into training and be ready to jump to the next level of sandboarding.
Getting ready for sandboarding means putting a lot of stress on training your leg muscles. Since the muscles of the legs will be the ones to carry the biggest weight, you should pay extra attention to them. You will be climbing the dunes a lot, and balancing your weight while boarding down.
Good training to start is a simple 45minutes run or fast-paced walk. Cardio sessions combined with an hour-long leg workout three times a week will shape your legs, and prepare you for the activity.
You can perform a test, and see if you can endure at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted cycling or run. If this is unbearable to you, it means you are not still ready for the adventure.
Walking uphill through sand is quite a slog. Train your quadriceps for the brutal challenge!
Skating or surfing will teach your body how to sway in motion and maintain balance.
Indoor cycling will build up your ability to flush lactic acid out of your system.
Sandboarding is simple! Not much is required either than a sense of adventure and a sandboard.
And before you ask, no, not any other board will do!
Plastic sleds don’t work. Boogie boards don’t work. Rubber tubes don’t work. Snowboards don’t work. Random plastic trash can lids don’t really work that well either.
If you’re going to go sandboard, do it once, and do it right. Get the dedicated piece of equipment!
The most obvious thing you will need is a sandboard. They are usually 100-120cm long, and in order to provide the best experience, they need to be 9-12mm thick. 9mm is perfect for beginners, while 12mm is recommended for pros who do a lot of jumps and stunts with the board (the thicker the board, the more it can endure the weight of these endeavors).
The tip on saving money is doing research and going to places that have good equipment you can rent for as low as $15-25. A good and fresh-out-of-the-store sandboard can cost from $250 and more. The protective equipment will cost around an additional $5-15 (renting). If you choose to buy it, this cost can go up to $100, so it is not recommended.
Sandboarding can be an activity you finish in one day. For that specific day, you would need to pack snacks like protein bars or chips. Make sure that you don’t carry chocolate, since it will melt down. You should also bring enough water, and a person usually needs 2-4 liters in desert conditions, depending on the needs of the organism.
If you choose to stay more than one day, the cost of food would depend on the area you’re visiting and whether you are making your own meals, or have them provided. In Morroco the prices are very decent, so you can have a full course meal for around $3-4.
This is very dependable on several factors – how close to the desert you live in. It is hard to give an estimation on this matter. However, if you are based in Morocco, the dunes are very easily accessible. Most of them are going to be a 10 to 20-minute ride, but if you choose to go deeper in the desert, the time estimation can go up to 40-50 minutes.
Taxi rides are not expensive, and they are charged per 1km, which costs less than a dollar. The ride to the dunes would cost around $5-10, on average. The taxi can also wait for you, and each hour is being charged $2.8.
If you choose to stay for a couple of days in the desert, a good tip to save money on accommodation is to try out desert camping. Camping in the desert is a whole new adventure compared to sandboarding, so why not combine them and have a blast?
When sandboarding in the US, you will notice that many sandboarding places are located in national parks. They usually do charge an entrance fee that can be from $25 and higher, depending on the location.
Sandboarding in the Sahara does not have a fee for this. The difference is that in Sahara you have many tours available and ranging from $35 on average.
Use SPF50 or higher! – many often forget to apply it. Make sure that you are applying it regularly – the SPF50 should be applied every two hours.
Sandboarding is an adult activity, reserved only for those in a good condition (mostly 21 to 45 years old). Kids, teenagers, and minors should not be included in this activity under any circumstances.
Technically no, but it is recommended for 21-45 years old’s. However, if you are older than 45 and in perfectly good condition, fit and healthy, with a recommendation from your doctor that you can do it – why not?
There are no bathrooms in the desert, that’s why it is good advice not to go far away from a tourist place, so you can easily go back there to use the bathroom. However, bear in mind that you will usually have to go to some restaurants or cafe restrooms.
See Notes on transportation in the Finances & Budget section.
See notes in the “Where and When to Go?” section.
Some places do have a personal guided tour. In the Sahara desert, there are several agencies providing this type of experience, but the personal guides are mostly organized by the locals on their own.