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Namibia Sandboarding: The Ultimate Adventure in Swakopmund

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.

sandboarding swakopmund

Sounds like the perfect time to try an adventure sport in the desert or the first time, right?…

Thankfully my Namibia sandboarding tour 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.

Namibia Sandboarding:

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.

Namibia Sandboarding

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).

My balance and centre of gravity on the board felt largely the same, but the weight distribution of my front and back legs felt way more delicate on sand: too much pressure on either side could result in the board completely stopping in the sand (as if you are stuck in deep powder snow) or you riding the dune on you’re a$$.

Don’t worry…the sand is super soft and it didn’t hurt to fall!

sandboarding swakopmund

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.

sandboarding swakopmund

The lay-down board is not for the faint of heart and was scarier to me than Namibia sandboarding. I felt like someone had sprayed this thing down with WD-40 like Clark Griswold in Family Christmas Vacation.

In fact, one of the crew members stood at the bottom of the dune with a speed gun. I rocketed down the dune at a terrifying awesome 43km/hour, praying that I wouldn’t flip my carpet and kick the bucket.

sandboarding swakopmund

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.

sandboarding swakopmund

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.

sandboarding swakopmund

Namibia Sandboarding

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 Alter Action crew is there to help you out and give you pointers the whole time on your Namibia sandboarding tour (though you can browse from a range of tours from Swakop, including quad biking in the desert).

What to Wear & Bring for Namibia Sandboarding:

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 on bare skin. If you have long hair like me, I would also recommend a Buff to keep your hair contained under the helmet, or you can use it to protect your neck from the sun (on that note, sunscreen is a must!). Finally, bring a GoPro if you have one!

Overall, I had a fantastic morning out on the dunes, and it was one of my favourite adventures on my overland trip from Capetown up to Tanzania.

Have you tried sandboarding before?

If not, would you give it a go?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Lauren said:
This looks like an insane amount of fun!
July 7, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Julianne said:
This looks INCREDIBLE! Amazing photos, and props to you for having the courage to do the lay-down board :)
July 7, 2018 at 11:18 am
Anna said:
What an experience! I'd really want to try that. I'm not a super good snowboarder but I manage. First I'd need to get my finances sorted for Namibia, though, hehe.
July 7, 2018 at 9:15 am
Anisa said:
Wow that looks pretty amazing. I am not sure which looks less scary (lying down or standing up)! It's good to know the sand is soft!
July 7, 2018 at 3:55 am
Kay said:
Dude it looks AWESOME!! I actually just tried snowboarding for the first time this winter - so I would love to try sandboarding!
July 7, 2018 at 3:16 am
Kate K. said:
I didn't even know sandboarding was a thing you could do, but it looks like SO much fun!
July 6, 2018 at 8:20 pm
Emma Burns-Di Lauro said:
OMFG! This is amazing! Also, can we just discuss how incredible your photos are considering you are on a board, in sand...full movement lol. Love it!
July 6, 2018 at 10:16 am
Nina | Lemons and Luggage said:
Wow, I'm not such an adventurous person so this is definitely not for me, but it looks really impressive!
July 6, 2018 at 9:35 am
Janis said:
Looks like a blast! I'll definitely try it if I ever make it over there!
July 3, 2018 at 7:07 am