The waves of heat rolled over me as I struggled to climb back up the 40 foot sand dune weighed down by a 7 pound sandboard and 2 pounds of sand in my shoes. Realization dawned upon me as I understood why the guide had told us we’d only have 1 and a half hours to sandboard instead of the 4 hours we were promised.
Carving it up: Sandboarding in Dubai
It was May and the weather was just starting to heat up. In the city the temperature was pleasant. But in the desert it was scorching.
This was my second trip to Dubai on a $274 round-trip airfare deal from Los Angeles to Dubai.
“You’ll have 1 hour and 30 minutes on the sand dunes.” The tour guide/driver explained after picking up the last passenger in our group. The four of us (three adventure seekers and 1 tour guide) were on our way to sandboard in the Dubai desert. Exactly where in the Dubai desert none of us knew, only that we were in the hands of our tour guide.
The tour guide didn’t explain why we’d have less time and no one asked. But having the tour cut in half turned out for the best. If this were a movie, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen would have been the perfect song for the drive back to our hotels.
If the way our guide drove the 4×4 on the Dubai streets was any indication of how he’d drive on the 4×4 portion of the tour, I was ready for the tour to be over, now. We hit every pothole and dip head-on at full speed. Brakes were only used to stop suddenly at lights. Whiplash anyone?
After a 40-minute drive that included roundabouts and highway speed bumps with a driver who thought he was on the Autobahn, we finally arrived at our destination: a nondescript stretch of Dubai desert across the street from Al Ramool Motorcycle Rentals.
Several small shops lined the entrance to the sand dunes. Snacks, gutras (headdresses also known as keffiyeh and kufiya ), and souvenirs were available for purchase. We stopped at the first shop to deflate tires and have a restroom break.
Then we were off roaring and twisting up a sand dune. 15 minutes of turns and twists that rivaled any roller coaster ride at Disneyland or Six Flags Magic Mountain and we were at the top of the dunes.
Don’t try to film yourself sandboarding with your iPhone. Not the best pictures.
And when you wipe out, sand gets everywhere. Thank goodness for Lifeproof! Next time I’ll bring a GoPro.
Sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding. But it’s a lot harder to carve through sand than through snow. And it’s exhausting.
But when you fall, sand is a lot more forgiving than packed snow. Climbing up is a lot harder than going down because you have to carry the board back up. And the loose sand doesn’t give you any traction.
After 4 runs I was spent! I wanted to keep sandboarding, but the thought of hauling myself up the dune again was enough to keep me at the top of the mountain with both feet firmly planted in the sand.
You can book a sandboarding tour separately or part of a desert safari tour. When you book it with a desert safari tour, you only get 20 minutes to sandboard. Depending on the size of your group, that could mean only 1 run. And the sand dune the tour operator takes you to in the desert safari tour is only about 5 feet high.
I paid $60.27 for a 4 hour sand boarding tour. You can pay $27 for a combination desert safari tour. But you only get 1 run and the tour starts in the afternoon and ends in the evening. I wanted multiple sandboard runs and choose to go first thing in the morning because the weather is cooler (theoretically) and my flight was leaving that night.
If you have more time you could book a tour that includes a camel ride, quad bike tour, sandboarding and visit to a camel farm. Or a private overnight safari with sandboarding, a camel ride, belly dancing, and dinner.
Would I go again? You bet. But next time I’ll go in the winter when the weather is cooler.
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Sunday 10th of July 2016
[…] Each ticket was booked directly from the travel agency’s website. Not only were the flights cheap, but I also earned United Airlines miles. If that wasn’t awesome enough, I was able to do a status match: United matched my American Airlines Executive Platinum status to their United 1K status. So not only did I get to fly for cheap, visit some great places but I also earned a ton of miles. I also had a little fun and in Dubai when I went sandboarding for the first time. […]
Monday 6th of October 2014
[…] ghostwriter and editor flying over 150,000 miles a year. Her articles cover adventures from Dubai to Denver. Among other publications you can find Debra’s articles in the San Diego Reader and […]
Monday 29th of September 2014
Exhausting - that is exactly the word I've always thought of when I hear about sandboarding. I think I'll stick to snow!
Wednesday 1st of October 2014
Agreed. Chair lifts make all the difference.