Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not Snowboarding, but Sandboarding in Namibia

I’ve seen lots of news reports recently from the U.S. about all the harsh winter weather everyone has been enduring.  Each time I say “goodbye” to someone on Skype they always offer to send me some snow.  My retort is, “Great! And I’ll send you some sand.”

Right now summer is going strong in the southern hemisphere and it feels like we will never see the end of it.  But I’m not complaining because I am willing to take the heat over being cold any day.  A few Christmases ago I was back in Baltimore and I tagged along with my brother and his friends on a snowboarding trip.  Though I thoroughly enjoyed it, my enthusiasm only lasted about half a day.  Once I was cold AND wet I called it quits and then retreated to the lounge to sit by the fire and read.  I think Tommy and his buddies had to be chased off the mountain around 10 o’clock at night.
This Christmas I put my skills to good use when I went sandboarding in the Namib Desert.  Sandboarding and snowboarding involve similar abilities, but there are a number of differences.  Sandboarding is hot, you know, since it is in the desert.  Also, when you fall the sand gives, unlike ice.  So, while I had a bruised rear end for a week after snowboarding I did not have that problem this time around.  Sandboarding requires a lot more effort than snowboarding when you are going up the hill/mountain/dune.  There is no gondola to take you up; you have to haul your board back up the dune all by yourself.  In reality you expend a lot more time trying to get back up the dune that down it.  And because you are spending so much time walking up the dune you get in a lot fewer runs.  In three hours of sandboarding I think I only had about five or six runs.  Nevertheless it was great.  I loved it.  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to risk ruining my camera by getting sand in it.

The day after sandboarding some friends and I climbed Big Daddy which is the highest dune in Namibia.  Here is the view on the way up:
And then me sitting on top of the dune:
Climbing the dunes at Sossusvlei is one of the major tourist activities in Namibia.  Here is the Cliff Notes version: it is really hot, you get lots of sand in your shoes, you empty your shoes, put them back on, take two more steps and then there will be more sand in your shoes.  Rinse. Repeat (for about four hours).  Though I will not miss constantly emptying my shoes of sand I really enjoyed the dune climbing and sandboarding. 

No comments:

Post a Comment