Sandboarding in Swakopmund: The Ultimate Namibian Adventure
This post was sponsored by Alter Action Sandboarding
I woke up bleary-eyed and stiff after another night of camping in my car, stretching my legs and taking reprieve in the warm wind and hint of sun rising over the gate of my campsite. I would soon learn that it was both unusually warm and windy for this time of year in costal Namibia — we were in fact, experiencing rare Eastern winds measuring nearly 50km in strength.
Sounds like the perfect time to try sandboarding for the first time, right?…Thankfully my tour with Alter Action did not get cancelled due to these winds and we set off for the dune just outside of Swakop. When we arrived, our gear was already there set up and we were briefed on safety info and the logistics of the morning.
Sandboarding in Swakopmund:
Essentially, we would be walking up the dune and riding down for as long as we had time and energy. Those Eastern winds sure made it a difficult climb up — I was basically the abominable sand monster, unusually sweaty and covered in grains of sand by the time I reached the top.
The ride down made the exertion all worth it.
I had wondered whether knowing how to snowboard would help me out on the dune. To my delight, my skills did cross over on the sand (though don’t get me wrong, I still belly-flopped a few times).
Your balance and centre of gravity on the board are largely the same, but the weight distribution of your front and back legs are slightly different — too much on either could result in your board completely stopping in the sand (as if you are stuck in deep powder) or you riding the dune on you’re a$$. Don’t worry — the sand is super soft and it doesn’t hurt to fall!
After a few runs (and the heart-palpitation inducing climbs back up the dune), we were able to switch over to the lay-down boarding…aka the sand version of the magic carpet toboggan. The lay-down board is not for the faint of heart — in fact, one of the Alter Action crew members stands at the bottom of the dune with a speed gun.
I felt like someone had sprayed this thing down with WD-40 like Clark Griswold in Family Christmas Vacation. I rocketed down the dune at a terrifying awesome 43km/hour, praying that I wouldn’t flip my carpet and kick the bucket.
One run of the lay-down board was enough for me, though there were a few brave souls on our tour who did this the entire time, rather than the stand-up boarding.
Eventually it was time for our final run of the morning (cue dramatic music). I was utterly exhausted by now, with sand in places where the sun don’t shine, but also highly motivated by the cooler of cold beer down by the trucks…so I let it rip — I picked up some speed and my snowboarding muscle memory kicked in, carving as per usual.
Well apparently carving is also slightly different on sand, since the friction between snow and sand is different. Too deep of an edge will have you flipping faster than an acrobat on Redbull. The results are below for your viewing pleasure.
Disclaimer: Don’t let these photos of me inhaling sand turn you away from trying sandboarding for yourself. I was comfortable enough to test my skills and didn’t mind the risk of falling, so I really went for it (and obviously fell a few times as a result of that).
If you are new to boarding or feel apprehensive, the crew is there to help you out and give you pointers the whole time.
Overall, I had a fantastic morning out on the dune with Alter Action Sandboarding.
This was one of my favourite adventures on my overland trip from Capetown up to Tanzania, so I highly recommend sandboarding in Swakopmund!
What to Wear & Bring:
It is important to wear tight fitting clothing or you will have sand everywhere (including places you don’t want sand). Also consider bringing tall socks to fit comfortably in the mid-calf boots or you could get uncomfortable chaffing. If you are new to sandboarding, here is a helpful list of what to wear and what to bring for your tour.
- Fitted athletic top & sports bra
- Athletic pants
- Hand sanitizer
- External charger
- Travel wallet
Have you tried sandboarding before?
If not, would you give it a go?
Let me know in the comments below.
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