Huacachina in Peru is a surreal mirage of a place. Steep golden sand dunes tower over the green lagoon where wading birds parade in the water against blood orange sunsets. Hotels cluster around the water. At sunrise, guests trek 250ft to the top of the slopes, and enjoy the view of the desert for miles around.
Growling dune buggies leap across the sand and launch passengers from their seats. My friends and I decided to tackle these giant shifting hills armed with snowboards for a more eco experience. Here are some things you should know about sand dune surfing:
1) Make yourself sand-proof
Flip flops, t-shirt and shorts might seem appropriate for this terrain, but when you are hurtling down the steep dunes on your belly inches from the sand you will regret not having an extra layer. Ask my arm. Leave your camera at home unless it has a waterproof case.
2) Be realistic
If you’ve never been able to stand on a snowboard, mastering these skills on sand is unlikely. It is possible to board if you have extreme skill, but even then it is much easier to hit bumps and dig your way into an impressive face-plant. It might not look pretty, but you will always win the race if you belly-surf like a rocket down the slope.
3) Wax up
Candle wax is an essential accessory here, so ask your guide to provide you with some. The more time you spend rubbing your board, the faster you’ll speed down to the base.
4) Stick to the plan
Listen to your guide and only hit the slopes that they recommend. My friends and I got carried away and launched ourselves down a series of 200ft dunes, before our guide told us to walk all the way back up a monstrous crumbling hill. It was regrettable.
5) Don’t look down
Some of these dunes are seriously steep, so avoid looking at the tiny ants waiting for you at the bottom. As always, it’s best to go earlier if you’re afraid of heights, and dig your shoes into the sand if you want to slow down.