The sandboard, what is it?
In fact, it’s really simple: if the snowboard is sliding on the snow, the sandboard is on the sand. Before trying sandboard, I’ve never practice snowboard (or ski, or skateboard). Even if, I always wanted to try. So, now that I had the opportunity to try sandboard, there was no reason not to!
I had the chance to practice sandboard twice in South America and both experiences were completely different.
My first time: Huacachina (Peru)
Huacachina is well-known for the sandboard (and buggy). This oasis, in the middle of the desert, is a perfect place for sandboard.
All the agencies offer the same tours for almost the same prices, so I choose one randomly for the sandboard and buggy tour.
My first experience was not a really good one. Indeed, the board was just a simple piece of wood with two strings for my feet. Nothing to do with a real board of snowboard. When I saw the board, I felt uncomfortable and even more when I understood we won’t have a helmet and proper shoes. The idea of sliding on this board without any protection was not really reassuring for me.
Fortunately, the guide is less unaware than it seems. He made us slide the dunes lying or sitting on the board. I felt like I was sliding on a sled instead of practicing sandboard. For my first experience, I was relieved no to use this kind of board, but also disappointed I’ve couldn’t try really sandboard.
However, it was great and funny to slide the dune sitting or lying on a board in the middle of the desert!
My second time, San Pedro de Acatama (Chili)
After my first experience, I wanted some guarantees before trying again sandboard: a real board, a helmet, a professional instructor, etc. While I was walking in San Pedro de Acatama, I saw an agency which gives the opportunity to try sandboard. The tour includes the material renting, the instructor, a helmet, boots and lasts half a day (either morning or afternoon). I had the chance to talk with the instructor and he told his experiences in snowboard, skateboard and of course sandboard. So after I saw the equipment I decided to book the tour. The helmet and the board are the same as the snowboard. The boots are almost the same, except it is for the summer so they are less warm (which is a really good news!).
I spare you the technical details about the initiation (in English and Spanish), but people who are used to snowboard had a talk during 5 minutes when it lasts 30 minutes for me. According to snowboarders, if you practice snowboard, you are able to practice sandboard. The main difference is that you need to walk to go to the top of the dune, there is no chairlift in the desert.
Finally came the moment I was waiting for: my first ride. By a miracle, it went very well for me (according to my criteria). I didn’t fall but I slid until the bottom of the dune and stopped when I had no speed left. When I went up to the dune, I was very proud of myself and very excited to start again.
I kept sliding and walked to the top of the dune during 2h. In the end, I was more tired by the walking (with the boots in the sand) than by sliding down.
After this experience, one question was in my mind: is the sandboard similar to snowboard or not? (I remind you that I really want to try snowboard for years!!). After talking with snowboarders, they told me that sandboard is more difficult. Indeed, sliding down a dune looks like practice snowboard in powdery snow. Sliding is more difficult in powdery snow than on a groomed track, that’s why it’s easier to learn snowboard than sandboard.
Hopefully, I will verify this one day! Until then, I really enjoyed this afternoon and my start in sandboard. If I have another chance, I will be more than happy to try again but with a specialized agency for sure.
I enjoyed a lot the sandboard in good conditions. It was an experience which gave me the desire to try snowboard soon et retry sandboard if I have the possibility. I recommend
you to try sandboard with a professional or at least with someone with experience in this field. You will enjoy it more and you’ll have better bases to have fun.
In bonus, you can watch me sliding and falling down 😉