Considering the need for sand huge dunes, steep drops, and cool surroundings, finding a great sandboarding spot might not seem like the easiest thing. But there are more than a few must-see destinations for athletes dedicated to the extreme sport, if you know where to look. So for those who need to carve sand, here’s a tour of the world’s best places to do it.
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 Southern Germany’s Monte Kaolino, where the World Sandboarding Championships are held each year. The break-neck speeds that riders can reach in these areas, plus their stunning views and natural beauty, make these spots some of the best sandboarding destinations in the world.
The Middle East is home to some amazing sandboarding destinations and it might just be the birth place of the adventure sport. Allegedly, there is evidence from thousands of years ago that ancient Egyptians rode down the dunes on planks of wood and pottery. While that cannot be confirmed beyond rumor, there is no doubt that 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 500 feet and sloping at angles of 70 degrees or more, it is no amateur course. Because it is a highly isolated area that requires transport and guides to find the best dunes, it is basically 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, and it is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination for outdoor adventurers of all sorts.
Sandboarding has also become quite popular in Southern and Western Australia in recent years because of the massive dunes and general outdoor spirit of the land. Places like “The Bowl,” in Bunbary, Western Australia and Mount Monster in Adelaide, South Australia draw in massive crowds searching for dunes which can reach heights over 700 meters high. These places not only have some of the best sandboarding in the world, but they are also nearby some of the world’s best beaches. Sandboarders often venture down to Tasmania to find the Henty dunes, the largest sand hills on the island. This West Coast locale is favored for its steep drops and long runs, while its isolated location allows sandboarders plenty of space to practice.
Africa is also home to some special sandboarding destinations. The Namib Desert in Namibia is rumored to be one of the oldest deserts in the world and certainly home to some of the largest dunes to be found. Most sandboarders head out to Swakopmund to find the steep peaks of its continuously shifting sand dunes, which are guaranteed to challenge even the most skilled riders.
Other places of interest include the cinnamon-red Skeleton Coast Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei near Rehoboth, Namibia where the dunes can be over 1000 feet tall. Further south, near Cape Town, South Africa, are the Fish Hoek Dunes, which are moderate in size, but are home to outdoor adventure sports of all kinds. Mount Mayhem is near Johannesburg and it has steep drops over 500 feet high and many natural jumping platforms for riders who want to attempt big air tricks. There are also hundreds of places to sandboard in the many other deserts across Africa such as the Sahara or the Kalahari.
South America isn’t lacking in great spots either. There is a wide array of sand dunes spread across South America, many of which feature extreme drop-offs and beautiful fields of fine white sand. Cerro Blanco for instance, in southern Peru, is treacherously steep and only the most experienced riders dare attempt a run down the hill. Many sandboarders are too afraid to try it because riders can reach speeds close to 50 mph on the descent. Further south, near Copiapo, Chile, is Cerro Iman, where an annual sandboarding competition is held. It is ideal for the competition because of the numerous available routes down the hill, all of which are extraordinarily fast. It is likely to continue drawing sandboarders from near and far for decades to come because of its amazing natural jumps.