Sand Boarding Namibia: Chicks Dig Scars… Right?

I’ve always been a fan of sand boarding.  I’ve done it countless times.  Back in my days in Peru, I used to rip up and down the dunes on a buggy carving out the sand in an embarrassing way.  I’m so terrible at riding upright that I just dive down head first on my stomach.  I love it.  I’m a pro at the headfirst slide.

In Swakopmund, Namibia, I once again had the chance to sand board and couldn’t help but head out to the dunes.  Namibia’s sand dunes are likely the most stunning on the planet.  They dance in a coat of red, and glimmer proudly.  They stretch out into the horizon one way and then out to the coast the other.  Sand boarding or not, the dunes are an amazing place to be.

sand boarding Namibia

After a quick hike up a steep dune, we coat our boards with wax and nervously strap them to our feet.  The biggest difference between sand boarding and snowboarding is that the dunes feel incredibly steep.  Of course, since there’s so much more traction, one can’t really slide down too fast, even if they wanted to.  However, the steepness is still imposing.  Especially since the majority of people who go sand boarding don’t snowboard regularly.  Still, everyone gets the hang of it quickly and soon find themselves somewhere between carving the dune or just flying down the hill at an angle.

sand boarding Namibia

The group becomes braver and starts to crave more speed.  We want to do the head first slide.

We’re handed big flat boards that look like magic carpets.  The first girl tosses herself on her stomach and then slides down at a good pace.  Cruising at top speed, she reaches a drop-off and catches some air as she does.  The whole group awes in excitement.  One after one, they all go down, and each time they hit the lip we cheer.

sand boarding Namibia

Like a perfect gentleman, I’ve let all the ladies go first and then toss myself down the hill as fast as possible.  As I approach the lip, the back of my mind tells the front that I’m going to fast.  The front of my mind doesn’t listen to the back, as usual, and I’m sent into the air as I fly over the lip.  I start to separate from the board as I catch air.  I squeeze my elbows inside in hopes of creating a brace.  I land in a flat spot and my face whips into the edge of my board, immediately coating my face with blood.

sand boarding Namibia

As I walk up the hill I can taste the blood on my lips, but I can’t help but laugh.  I can’t help but want to do the run again.

When I get back to the group at the top, they all ooo and awww while taking pictures of what I’m told is a gaping wound.  My lip goes numb; I feel like I’ve just come out of the dentist’s office.  My time on the board for the day is over.

Back at the truck, I apply some alcohol to what looks like a little red mouth above my mouth.  I scrape out kernels of sand from within the wound.  I’m going to need stitches for sure.

I wander into the doctor’s clinic and he laughs when he sees me again.  Just two days prior I was in to get a rare spider bite treated, today, I need 6 stitches between my nose.  When he’s done, we can’t help but laugh at the poor position of the cut.  With the band-aid on, I look like I have a Hitler mustache.

sand boarding Namibia

5 days after the stitches, I looked like this…

I roll on to dinner and drinks with the sand boarding and we all laugh about the incident, we all gleam out how awesome the day was.  Stitches and the time of my life, just another day in the life of an adventure travel journalist.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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5 Comments

  1. I’d be way to squeamish to laugh about that (yea, I’m a wuss)! I’m going to be in Huacachina, Peru soon and am debating whether or not to do the sandboarding there. This may have put me off…or encouraged me. I’m not sure yet! Sounds fun…but also bloody. Hopefully I can at least avoid the Hitler mustache.

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    • Dude, you have to do the sand boarding in Huacachina!!! Even if you don’t slide, the dune buggy riding through the sand dunes is worth the price! I’ve done that one 8 times, and I’d do it again, and again!

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  2. I remember going down on that board. Went flying over a bump at full speed, legs in air. Was awesome fun! Huge grin on my face. Want to go back there again sometime. Sucks you got hit. But hey, its a story to tell…

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    • I can’t wait to show the video… it’s hillarious!

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