Sandboarding in Peru is easily one of the best experiences in my life thus far. Sandboarding came highly recommended by my friends who had traveled to Peru before so I was already stoked. Once you get to Ica or Huacachina (located about ten minutes from each other), everyone from taxi drivers to tourist agencies will be plying you with their offers of dune buggy tours and/or sandboarding. However, after reading some negative reviews and learning of the questionable quality of these agencies, my friend Christine and I decided to go with Sandboard Peru for a couple of reasons:
- They provide you with lessons so whether or not you’ve sandboarded before, you feel comfortable and safe during the entire process.
- They will outfit you with the essential gear like boots and wax for your board. They will also adjust and properly fit you to your board. From what I saw, other agencies use smaller boards that look more like skateboards than snowboards.
- After going on a run, their dune buggy will pick you up to drive you to your next run. Trust me, walking up sand is not all that fun and we all appreciated being able to ride up in the dune buggy. With some other agencies, your only option for another run is to walk back up the sand dune. Also, riding up and down the dunes during the sunset was magical.
After arriving at Sandboard Peru’s office at 2:15pm, we met Dito, our instructor, who is a really chill man with a good sense of humor. One of the Sandboard Peru employees fit us with the proper shoes and answered all of our questions. If you choose to board instead of ski, they’ll ask you which side you lead with. If you’re not sure, there are a few ways you can figure it out. When you strap on your board, you can see which foot you instinctively strap in first. You can also ride a skateboard to see which side you feel more comfortable leading with, your left or your right. The last method is to stand up straight, feet close together. Then, have someone push you and see which foot you step out with first. This will be the foot you lead with while boarding.
Another reason that Dito was a homie was when we realized that we didn’t have the proper socks. Our socks only reached our ankles and it’s better to wear socks that are a bit longer so the shoes don’t rub against your legs (Yea, we’re noobs and didn’t know this), so Dito let us borrow his own socks. This was a bold move on his part, especially knowing how sweaty we’d get.
We finished up early so we went out and got a quick lunch at Huafuckingchina (where the EDM bumps and the waiters dance with you, making you feel like you’re at a rave in the middle of the desert lol) with a view of the oasis and then headed back to Sandboard Peru around 3:15pm. The nice thing about Huacachina is that it’s so small that you can walk around the entire town in about twenty minutes.
After getting back, we began the short ten minute hike up the dunes to start our first sandboarding lesson. Dito showed us how to wax our boards, descend slowly down the dune, stop, and make turns. He was extremely patient even as I asked a lot of questions. Two of his students also helped us. They looked about 14 years old but were already pros at boarding down the dunes. There was a bit of a language barrier (unfortunately my Spanish is pretty crappy), but they were aces and helped us strap in and carved a path down the dune for us to follow and practice. The whole time I felt completely safe and in awe of their skills. #goals
We did this for about ten minutes and then rode the dune buggy to start the real runs. After Sharon and I’s dune buggy experience in Dubai, I was pretty stoked to ride one in Peru. It didn’t disappoint as the driver was great, took us on plenty of jumps, and the view was unbeatable.
For the fun part, the runs! Each of the runs was so much fun that I felt like I could sandboard forever. Before each run, Dito goes over how you can best carve a path down the dune for beginners. For those who are more experienced, for some of the runs you’re given the option of starting higher. I think the scariest part was probably the first run and just getting started. But like with most things, it’s all about the attitude and I think that once you just commit and let yourself go for it, it’s freaking awesome.
Some of the highlights included:
- Going down this ridiculously steep hill into this valley and then just hearing…nothing. You’re in complete silence in the middle of the desert. It’s great.
- Going down a run to an OASIS. I’m telling you, this experience was ridiculous.
- Trying the jumps. There were about three jumps in a row and of course I ate sand after the first one but I’m glad that I tried, even when Dito told me that it would probably be too hard. Some nice Peruvians even helped me up after I fell.
- Meeting the other people who were sandboarding and skiing. There were a couple of other Americans and Swiss, so we would joke that it was Team USA vs Team Switzerland going down the slopes.
Dito also filmed the whole event with his GoPro. He’ll take action shots of you as well as videos, so you can relive the amazing memories later. At the end of the day, we headed back towards the office to look at the pics and say our goodbyes. I genuinely felt sad to leave and wish we could’ve stayed longer. Even as we were taxing back to our hotel to catch our bus out to Arequipa, I couldn’t stop smiling. That probably sounds so lame but it was seriously one of the best experiences I’ve had while traveling. I’ve even started looking up places to sandboard in the States.
- Bring your usuals for the desert – sunscreen, sunglasses or even ski googles, water, and a bandana for the sand.
- Sandboarding is so sick and bringing my GoPro allowed me to film videos of sandboarding down the dunes (made easier with a chest mount) as well as taking pictures in the dunes. Dito will be filming you but if you want the flexibility of taking your own shots, then I would highly recommend bringing one!
- Compared to snowboarding, I found sandboarding to be way easier because a) there are no trees for you to run into b) I’m a pussy when it comes to cold weather and for sandboarding, all you need is a short sleeve shirt and some shades c) when you fall it’s soft and kind of fun.
Me writing about sandboarding is one thing, but I’m excited to show you too! I created a vlog on my Peru trip and if you want to get a taste of what sandboarding is like, you can skip to 1:35!
*Thank you to Sandboard Peru for the activity. As always, all opinions are my own.