Dune boarding

An extreme sport that combines sand and speed
Dune boarding is fast, fun and safe. © South African Tourism
In South Africa, dune boarding is a fairly recent development, but it's caught on fast, because there's certainly no shortage of sand. South Africa boasts some of the world's highest beach dunes. And away from the beach, dune boarders have found a great alternative: old gold mine dumps.

Did you know?

Sandboarding is believed to have originated in Egypt during the time of the Pharoahs when people slid down sand dunes on pieces of wood. 

 

An hour of dune boarding (also known as sand boarding) in South Africa is probably the work-out equivalent of 3 hours in the gym. Somehow, ascending the dune and then whooshing down the slope on a pliant piece of wood takes a lot of stamina - but it's loads of fun too!

It's the latest in a long line of adrenalin sports, and South African dune boarding is catching on all over the country. The sport was first recorded locally in the mid-1970s in Namibia. Along our 3000km-long coastline, there are thousands of suitable dunes to ride down, with the sands around Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula being favoured spots.

Beginners aged 11 and older are eligible for instruction sessions from an expert guide, and pretty soon you'll be kitted up on a sandboard and flying down the dunes.

But what if I wipe out, you might ask. There's no need to worry as the sand is soft and forgiving. In fact, the hardest part of South African dune boarding is the climb up the side of the dune, but it's also wonderful exercise.

Adventure tour companies specialising in dune boarding in South Africa advise you to bring: a camera to record the inevitable antics, lots of sunscreen, and a sense of humour. Some of the more enterprising companies turn it into a fun day, complete with children's dune boarding and picnics. This is a fun sport that will satisfy most peoples' need for speed.

Up in Gauteng, there are not many natural sand dunes. However, there are gold mine dumps and lots of them. At the mine site of New Modder in Benoni on the East Rand is a dump called Mount Mayhem. They use dune boards (actually, original snowboards), boots and goggles, and they whoop it up down the slopes of Mount Mayhem.

'It's like falling on clouds,' someone was quoted as saying as he dusted himself off and prepared for another ascent - and rapid descent.

Sunscene Outdoor Adventures
Tell: +27 (0) 21 783 0203
Cell: 084 352 4925
Email: info@sunscene.co.za

Downhill Adventures
Tel: +27 (0) 21 422 0388
E-mail: info@downhilladventures.com

Contact local tourism offices at coastal towns to find out where the closest dune boarding facilities are located.

Three-hour lessons are provided at the dunes of Lost City in a nature reserve at Atlantis, 45 minutes' drive from Cape Town. Betty's Bay has a venue called Silver Sands, a hour up the east coast,

Sunscene Outdoor Adventures in Cape Town offers day tours, with surfing and sandboarding thrown in at a venue near Fish Hoek. Downhill Adventures are sand boarding professionals who use fully imported modified snowboards, boots and bindings. They offer combos with surfing, quad biking and skydiving.

In most regions vehicles are not permitted on the beach, so riders gather and walk to their chosen location.

Expect to pay around R700 per person for a full day, including lunch, shoes and board or R550 for half a day, excluding lunch, but including gear.

You can spend half an hour to half a day indulging in this exciting sport, depending on your fitness level and ability.

Thick long socks, a peak and your camera.

Use lots of sun cream, especially on your face, but expect the sand to stick to you during the learning phase of this sport, which comes with thrills and spills. A good peak cap is also a good idea for the glare.