In my fourth segment about Extreme Sports, (previous posts concentrated on Glacier Hiking, Great White Cage Diving and Snowsports), I’d like to take you to Namibia in 2009 when the offer of Sandboarding came up. As an intermediate skier and beginner snowboarder there was simply no way that I was going to let this opportunity pass me by, especially as we had already seen some of Namibia’s incredible Sand dunes.
Having not felt the need to bring my Snowboard all the way to Africa, we were promptly told that all equipment was included anyhow. So we met up in the morning and were driven out of the town and into the desert. Namibian desert is what you expect of a desert, with mammoth dunes and fine grained sand for as far as the eye can see, it’s an incredible site and so warm.
So we were provided with what looked like old snowboards but with a smoother base and less sharp edges and the traditional snow boots. Upon picking up our boards and wearing what felt like moonboots in this sand, we hiked to the largest of the dunes in the set, and started to ascend. What we really didn’t fathom when taking on this challenge was the heat… It was hot, truly hot and really dry as well. Climbing a huge sand dune is not the easiest of things when it’s cold, let alone in the midday heat and on extremely grainy unsettled sand. It felt that every step we were sinking back a further step… literally a never ending climb.
The summit was worth the ascension, with a beautiful view of the entrance to the Namib Desert on one side and the gleaming ocean on the other. Looking down from up on high, the bowl of the dune was actually pretty steep, but didn’t worry me too much being a seasoned professional snowboarder – HA! The boards had to be thoroughly waxed every time we descended the dune, as the friction had an incredible affect.
We all took turns to kick off from the summit and edge down the sand giant. The ones of us who had snowboarded had a slight advantage as I confidently moved towards the edge and I was gone, straight down the dune like a bat out of hell – what a rush! However upon trying my usual breaking mechanics of weight distribution didn’t seem to work and my left leg buckled. Being overconfident and going at quite a fast paced speed, I was soon eating sand… If you thought that sand would be lighter than snow for falling – you’d be very much mistaken! I was battered and bruised and I had the indignity of hiking back up the dune again! You know what they say – Practice makes perfect and this was definitely the case here, as we all improved.
The realisation of that hike time and time again did take something away from the experience but otherwise it was incredible. There is always something special about being on top of the largest sand dune in the region, it’s either the surrounding view or the effect of the elements when up high (wind, sun, warmth…). What an incredible Wandering Memory – and one that may not be as dangerous as the others in my collection – but well worth a mention…