I have read about the thrill of snowboarding and skiing in the Alps or some other European cold location in December … but when you live in Africa like I do, then you have sun … and lots of it! People are very innovative and thus sandboarding was created. Our team has been on a holiday break for a few days in Mozambique when we stumbled upon a flyer advertising the sport right on the doorstep of the resort we were staying at. Ernest and Andrew are partners in a venture that will cater for every adventure that you can think of! Ernest has been living in Mozambique for the past 22 years. He is an experienced hand with tourists and runs a dive centre, fishing charter and general adventure centre together with some other business ventures. Andrew owns a lodge in South Africa and a dive centre that has been operational for almost 30 years. These guys love adventure and will get you fired up to try something new the moment you meet them. We hired a few boards from Chicuanga Resort and after a few minor instructions from the pros we piled unto our Isuzu Double Cab and headed for the dunes about 2km south of the resort. The dunes are huge there and the slopes deceivingly steep.
Conrad is our tenacious adventurer who usually plows head first into any challenge we throw at him and keeps the course for the rest of us to follow. He grabbed a board and went first for a ride that took him … nowhere. It turns out the can of polish we got with the boards was not just there to make them look pretty and shiny when we give them back – you actually need to buff your board with polish before going down the slope. We applied some polish and rubbed the board with a dry towel – and boy did we go after that!
Conrad headed down first, trying the deceiving piece of plank beneath his feet and doing a good job of staying upright… but we never have safe, small adventures, do we? So it soon turned into a rather high speed contest to see who could go the furthest. FYI – the Guinness Book of Records entry for the fastest speed on a Sandboard was recorded at 82km/h (51 mph) by Erik Johnson… we didn’t break it.
Manda very quickly dominated the challenge and set a pretty high standard for the rest of us to follow
And then we started falling. We plowed into the hot sand one after the other, laughing as we got covered in the sand granules that we would later discover in every inch of our bodies. We crashed. We fell. We slipped. We tripped. We stumbled. We tumbled. But mostly we all ended on our bottoms (or faces) while trying to beat Manda’s record.
Finally a shaky Divan tried his hand (or feet) at the board. He is 10 years old and his dad stood by to keep him upright on the dune before letting him go down the slope.
The little guy picked up speed and kept his balance until he had passed the beacon – establishing a lead of about 1 meter ahead of Manda. It was game on!
It turned out to be much harder to beat the youngster than we thought. I came close, but no cigar! He kept the lead as we worked to get our boards to go faster and faster. It helps to not buff all the polish off – to just let it dry for a minute in the sun and then go. After every hopeful slide down the dune you have to drag yourself back up to the top to reset. It is a pretty good workout that had us exhausted in an hour flat!
It seemed like the kid would be the champ for the day when Manda did a final approach down the dune. She flew over the hot sand and slid way past the winning beacon to set a record that nobody would touch for quite a while to come.
Even with the competition going strong we had a fabulous time, burning energy and getting sunburned while playing like kids in the sand. Sandboarding has risks of injury as you are sliding down a slope at a pretty high speed so be careful if you do decide to do it, but I can definitely recommend trying it out if you like adventure. If you are in Mozambique near Xai Xai then Chicuanga is a definite stop to make. They have different sandboards for your level of bravery from the standard board to one with a seat for small children or older people who would like to experience the adventure but not have the risk of the fall. The sand offers a rather soft landing, but depending on the weather of the previous days some parts may be more compacted and therefore be harder than other parts of the dune. Be sure to wear lost of sunblock and to bring drinks and shade from the sun. And bring your camera!
The hire of the boards is R100 ($7) per board for an hour – which is more than enough time to drain you of every last drop of energy you own – but should you have a big group like we did it might be wise to get a few boards for 2 hours. Your friends and family will have the time of their life and sleep like never before that night!
If you would like to book this adventure you can give us a call at Easy Gallivant at (+27)17 634 5799 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Lizzie and Manda (still reigning queen of this dune!)