A South American adventure: sand surfing in Peru

Travelling abroad has a great deal to recommend it, but one of the very best things it can provide is a chance to try something completely new.  Sand surfing, also known as sandboarding, is a recreational activity that cannot be experienced in many areas of the world.  To try sand surfing for themselves, tourists must journey to the areas of the world that have large sand dunes.  This means travelling to nations with significant desert regions or that have beach conditions that are conducive to forming very large sand dunes.

Understanding sand surfing

As the name suggests, sand surfing uses a board rather like a surfboard.  Sand surfing boards, however, are designed to hold your feet in a fixed position; for this reason they generally feature straps or bindings.  Some sand surfers, however, do opt for a board that lacks these bindings.

Taking part in sand surfing is somewhat similar to snowboarding, with one significant exception – there are currently no sand surfing areas that provide the equivalent of a ski lift.  It is unlikely that such a lift could even be constructed due to the inherent difficulties of building on shifting sand.  Therefore, after riding a sand dune down to the bottom, enthusiasts must make the somewhat arduous and hot climb up to the top of the dune to continue their fun.  This actually provides excellent aerobic exercise, making sand surfing an outstanding fitness activity.  Some enthusiasts have found ways to avoid the climb; they simply use dune buggies or vehicles designed for all-terrain use to reach the top.  A partner can then drive the vehicle back down for the next run.

Why sand surfing is becoming so popular

Sand surfing, as opposed to snowboarding, is available to tourists all year round while ski resorts tend to be open only seasonally.  Additionally, sand surfing can be a much more economical activity.  Because there are not really any developed resorts, costs are kept very low.  In some areas, people who wish to sand surf can simply pick a likely-looking dune, hike to the top with their board, and get started.  Meals and lodging can likewise be very affordable due to the relatively small numbers of people who are currently seeking out the places in the world that are best for sand surfing.

Sand surfing in Peru

Although sand surfing areas are available in world regions that include Australia, South Africa, and the United States, one of the best places in the world for sand dunes is the South American nation of Peru.  In fact, the very largest sand dune on earth is located in Ica, one of the five provinces that comprise the nation.  This is the Duna Grande (Large Dune), which sometimes measures as much as two kilometres in height – because of the shifting nature of sand dunes they do vary in height from year to year.

Peru has been holding the world’s premier sand surfing competition since 2009.  Called the Copa Sandboarding Peru, the contest of balance and coordination takes place near Paracas, which is in Ica province.  Also notable are the large dunes located near Lima, which is the capital city of Peru.

Sand surfing in Peru provides tourists with the chance to try something both offbeat and new – and if you can secure a reasonably priced flight you can do it without breaking the bank.

Top image by Nattu

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