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5 Best Spots for Sandboarding in South America

 

 

What do you get when you combine surfing, snowboarding and sunbathing? Sandboarding!

If you haven’t heard of sandboarding yet, you’re going to want to break out your bucket lists, because this is one activity every adventurer is going to want to try. Whether you’re already heading to South America soon and are looking for adventures to round out your itinerary or are just curious what kinds of thrills to add to your next vacation, sandboarding is a great one—perfect for beginners and expert adventurers alike.

5 Best Spots for Sandboarding in South America

It’s no secret that South America (and Latin America!) have some of the best sandboarding and dune buggy spots. From desert valleys to beachfront vistas, there’s dunes galore here—with unbeatable views you can soak in on the downhill ride. Here’s some of our favorite places to squeeze in a sandboarding ride.

1 Huacachina, Peru

The village of Huacachina, located about 4 hours from Lima, is built around a small lagoon and surrounded by towering sand dunes—and we seriously mean towering. Huacachina has some of the largest sand dunes in South America—up to 1,600 feet tall! The surprising natural beauty in the middle of the desert draws thousands of visitors a year.

Aside from the natural beauty, Huacachina is also a world-famous hub for adventure sports—from sandboarding (obviously!) to sand skiing, dune buggying and more. This desert oasis is one of the best places for world-class sandboarding and has plenty of dune buggy tours and sandboarding tours available.

You can go there as a day trip from Lima, or make it your home base for a few days and explore nearby Paracas, Nazca and the Ballestas Islands too! Remember, Peru is south of the Equator, so December – March are summer months in Huacachina—remember to plan accordingly!

    • Where to go: W67P+C65, Avenida Malecon de, Huacachina 11000, Peru

    • What to bring: sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat! Oh, and your camera, obvs.

    • Popular tour operators: PeruHop and Inca Trilogy Tours are two of the most popular tour operators. Both have day trips as well as multi-day trip options from Lima!

Go Biking, Hiking and Rafting in Peru

2 San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama is one of the best destinations to go sandboarding—the nearby Atacama desert (aka “Valle de la Muerte,” Chile’s Death Valley) has stunning scenery and plenty of sand dunes for riding. From salt flats to hot springs, pink-tinged mountains to endless desert sand dunes, you’ll find beautiful views here for your adventures.

Here, you can join a sandboarding tour or go on your own, by renting a sandboard from a local shop. Although joining a tour comes with a bit of an extra cost, we really recommend joining one (unless you’re a professional already, in which case, have at it). By joining a group, you’ll have all your equipment and transportation sorted out for you, instructions on how to properly sandboard, and some fun travelers to surf with!

For a real midnight adventure, consider going moonlight sandboarding—the thrill of sand boarding under the starlight is simply incredible.

    • Where to go: San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile

    • What to bring: plenty of water! If you’re not joining a tour, be sure to bring a helmet and wax for your board.

    • Popular tour operators: Sandboard San Pedro is one of the most popular tour operators in the area, or you can plan a DIY trip.

3 La Paz, Mexico

La Paz, a coastal town in Baja California Sur, is known for its beaches, nearby island excursions, and its incredible snorkeling and sailing in the Sea of Cortez. However, it’s also an amazing destination in Latin America for sandboarding! At the nearby El Mogote Dunes, you can learn to sandboard on smaller sand dunes—perfect for beginners.

Pro tip: book the sunset tour! Not only will the weather be cooler, but the amazing sunset views will be on full display as you ride down the dunes. What could be better?

To get here, there’s a small international airport you can fly to from Mexico City or Tijuana. You can also fly into the San Jose del Cabos airport and drive from there (or hire a driver). Either way, it’s about 2-2.5 hours away from Cabo, so it makes a great day trip!

    • Where to go: El, Mogote, 23000 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico

    • What to bring: lightweight clothing and sun protection

4 Cerro Blanco, Peru

If you’re a real adrenaline junkie, raise your hand and take out your bucket list, because we have a fun one for you: sandboarding on the highest sand dune in the world.

Cerro Blanco is located on the southern coast of Peru, near the Nazca Valley (also worth a visit!). At around 2,000 meters above sea level (that’s 6,800 feet!), this is not an adventure for the faint of heart! You’ll need to get an early start—the climb to the top of the sand dune takes about 3 hours, plus you’ll need to carry your board up with you.

Once you’re near the top, your hard work will be rewarded with stunning views of Nazca Valley. On clear days, you can even see the Andes and the Pacific Ocean in the distance! After you’ve had your fill of the views, you can do a few short practice runs on your board, and then surf your way down.

Cerro Blanco isn’t far from the famous Huacachina, so you may want to visit there first to practice, then top it off with a heart-racing descent down Cerro Blanco.

    • Where to go: 45H7+XXH, Nasca 11400, Peru

    • What to bring: plenty of water! Plus, don’t forget your sand protection.

5 Florianópolis, Brazil

Want to try sandboarding in the place where it got its start? Then head to Florianopolis, Brazil!

While some people think that sandboarding may go allll the way back to the Ancient Egyptians, modern sandboarding most likely traces back to Florianopolis, where Brazilian surfers would occasionally surf the dunes on the beach in between waiting for good waves to surf. The Dunes of Joaquina are a popular spot for beginners, but many of the beaches around Florianopolis—and elsewhere along Brazil’s coastline—have dunes perfect for buggies and boards.

We recommend booking a combined sandboard and dune buggy tour—you’ll get two adventures for the price of one, and get a chance to experience the dunes in different ways. Plus, climbing up the dunes over and over again to surf down can get tiring—so a buggy ride is a great way to give your legs a break while still getting an adrenaline rush!

    • Where to go: Lagoa da Conceição, Florianópolis – State of Santa Catarina, Brazil

    • What to bring: snacks and sun protection—surfing on the dunes can get hot and toasty!

How to Prepare for Sandboarding (AKA Sand Dune Snowboarding)

If you’re a snowboarding or skiing pro and think that sandboarding will be a walk in the park, think again. Sandboarding is an amazing adventure for beginners, but even expert snowboarders can find themselves in new territory here—literally!

Of course, riding on sand is quite different from riding on snow. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your sandboarding experience unforgettable (in a good way!).

    • Bring sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen. It’s going to be bright and sunny out on the dunes! Make sure to pack the essentials to protect yourself from harsh UV rays.

    • Go in the morning. Avoid sandboarding in the heat of the day if possible. Instead, opt for early morning or late afternoon for the most comfortable temperatures.

    • Wear loose-fitting clothes and long sleeves. Long sleeves can help protect your skin from harsh UV rays and rough sand, but sticking to loose-fitting, light clothes can help you stay cool as well.

    • Find out what shoes to bring. Some tours may allow you to strap into the boards in sneakers (or even barefoot!) but others may have sandboarding boots for you, similar to snowboarding. Make sure to check in advance so you’ll know what to wear. If your tour uses snowboarding boots, pack long, thick socks.

    • Beware flying sand! Many beginner sandboarders opt to slide down the dunes on their stomach instead of learning to stand (it’s easy and no less thrilling!). However, with this method, you’ll need to be prepared for sand flying towards your face, hair and ears. We recommend bringing a bandana, scarf or balaclava to keep your nose and mouth sand-free while you slide.

    • Prep your board. Many sport rentals will provide this for you, but if you want a speedy slide, pack some surfboard wax (or even candle wax) to ensure your board slides evenly across the sand.

Ready to Explore Peru?

From sandboarding to hiking, whitewater rafting to mountain biking, there’s adventures galore to be had in Peru! Ready for an incredible vacation without having to plan? Join an Explorer Chick trip to Peru and embark on your desert oasis adventure with a group of encouraging women!

 

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