While sand boarding is less popular than snowboarding, the number of sandboarders on sand dunes is increasing year by year. The benefits of sand boarding are many. Firstly, this is the technical easiness compared to snow boarding. Anyone, even those who have never been on a snowboard before, can jump off the low dunes. Here is the second advantage – it’s less traumatic. Falling down on the sand, unlike on snow, with rare exceptions, does not hurt at all, and the speed is lower. Thirdly, you do not need to go in harsh winter. You can combine skiing with a beach holiday; it is important for those who do not like the cold. Fourthly, of course, it is the exoticism. You may arrange an excellent photo-session on the dunes.


The Great Sea of Sand, Egypt

The oasis of Siwa is located in western Egypt, close to the Libyan border, in the Great Sea of Sand, which is part of the Sahara desert. More than 70% of the Great Sea of Sand is covered by dunes, and Siwa boasts some truly gigantic ones, reaching heights of up to 140 metres. Many of the dunes have quite steep slopes, so coupled with the altitude, it’s the perfect platform for pro boarders. There are dunes of various heights and shapes, so everyone will find a sand slide to their liking. Siwa has a small airport and several hotels, as well as travel agencies, where you can book sand boarding tours and equipment hire.

The nearest attractions are the Mediterranean resort town of Marsa Matruh, which can be reached by air (it also has an airport) or a 3.5 hour drive on the desert highway.

Las Dunas Cuervitos

Baja California, Mexico

These dunes are located in northwestern Mexico, in the state of Baja California, close to the US Arizona border. You can even see the mountains in the US territory from them. The nearest major town with an airport is Mexicali City, and it’s a 10-minute drive on the highway from there (although administratively it’s the territory of the neighbouring town, Algodones). Las Dunas Cuervitos is part of the Sonoran Desert, one of the largest and hottest deserts on the planet. During the summer, temperatures can exceed 45°C in the shade, so you need to arrive here at sunrise at 6 am to ride a sandboard from May to September. The beauty of the place is that despite its proximity to the city and easy access to transport, the dunes are unspoilt and untouched and ideal for photo sessions, with constant winds quickly covering human footprints. There are gentle dunes for beginners and steeper ones, up to 40 m high, for professionals. The sand is quite coarse and easily shakes out of your clothes. The dunes are so beautiful and geometric that it’s a treat to walk on them barefoot early in the morning, while the sand is still warm. Sandboards are available for hire from private instructors. There are no stationary hire shops.

Nearby attractions: Mexicali City is a large industrial town, with little in the way of tourist attractions. However, if you head towards the Pacific Ocean, you can reach the resorts of Ensenada and Rosarito in a couple of hours, as well as the wine valley of Valle de Guadalupe, which is called the new Napa of Mexico.

Death Valley

Atacama, Chile

Despite its intimidating name and status as the driest desert on earth, Atacama is a popular spot for sand boarding. A couple of sand boarding agencies are located 2-3km from the town of San Pedro de Atacama and offer equipment hire. The dunes here are of different heights and rather rugged, and in windy weather, it’s better to cover your face with a bandana, as the fine sand flies right in your face. The nearest airport is in Calama, Atacama, which is just over an hour away by car on the highway from San Pedro de Atacama.

Nearby attractions: San Pedro de Atacama is a small, colourful town with colonial and pre-Columbian architecture. Most interesting are the 17th century church of San Pedro, the archaeological site of Pukara de Quitor and Chaxa Lake.


Sechura, Peru

Huacachina is a small oasis in the Peruvian Sechura Desert, popular with local and foreign sandboarders. It is within walking distance of the dunes, which are up to 100m high. It is one of the few places in the world where sand boarding is on the rise: the oasis is even featured on the 50 Peruvian Sol note. The main advantage is that you won’t have to walk to the dunes, where you can be taken by buggy (you can even book a desert tour by buggy, bouncing on the dunes).

Nearby attractions: the town of Ica, on the Pacific coast, is a 15-minute drive away and has two unique museums, the Museum  of Mummies and the Dr Cabrera Museum, with its collection of boulders depicting pre-Columbian Andean inhabitants.


Namib, Namibia

Another hot spot for sand boarding is the Namib Desert near Swakopmund. There are two types of sand boarding offered by local travel agencies: the recumbent board and the classic standing board.

In the first case, a wider board is used and the sandboarder lies down on his stomach. In this way you can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h, while the speed of the classic board is up to 80 km/h.  Sandboard rentals are available, and instructors are available.

Nearby attractions: The city of Swakopmund on the Atlantic Ocean is not only the closest airport to the dunes, but also one of the few places on the planet where you can experience German colonial history. Germanic architecture, colourful cafes serving German dishes with African ingredients, varied seaside activities such as diving, yachting, dolphin, penguin and seal watching and the “moonscape” of the Swakop Valley attract many tourists.

Chara sands

Zabaykalsky region, Russia

This place is for those who crave exoticism in their own country. One of the most mysterious deserts in the world (scientists are still arguing about its origin) is situated between two mountain systems: the Kodar range on one side and the Kalar and Udokan ranges on the other, so you can admire the beautiful mountain and forest scenery nearby as you ride here. The desert is not large. If you wish it can be passed on foot in a day. The dunes are soft and gentle, the wind doesn’t manage to cover your tracks overnight, so if there have been tourists before you, there is a risk that the slopes will be trampled. Such a situation, however, is unlikely; it’s not easy to get here at all. The Chara sands are the territory of the national reserve Kodar, visiting of which is permitted only by the passes, and they should be ordered in advance. At 9 km, there is a small airport in the village of Chara. The nearest town with an airport is Krasnoyarsk, from which you get to Kodar by train for two nights and then by jeep or better of all the terrain vehicle because there are plenty of bogs around. Of course, you may go for a drive here only in summer. In winter, it may be as low as -50 below zero, and one will need to take the equipment with him.

Nearby attractions: there are old wooden houses in the village of Chara, and the natural wall of high snow-covered mountains makes it one of the most beautiful places in the Zabaykalsky region. Besides Chara sands, there are many other natural beauties in the Kodar National Park. The Vitim and Chara river basins are home to over 350 species of plants, over 150 species of birds and 40 species of animals, among which are wild reindeer, snow sheep, sable and ermine.

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