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Ever wanted to go sandboarding? Why not do it in Death Valley- deep down in the Atacama desert?! The Death Valley in Chile (Valle de La Muerte) is about 2km away from San Pedro de Atacama, a small city in the middle of the Atacama desert.
Tours are around 20.000 Pesos and normally start at 9am. The tour is around 3 hours. Doesn’t sound that long, but – trust me- once you made your way walking up those sand dunes those three hours feel like six.
I’ve been living in Brazil for the past two years now and as someone who loves snowboarding, it is sad to say that those snowy German mountains are not around the corner anymore. Snowboarding in South America is VERY expensive. Sandboarding on the other hand is not. And it is almost as much fun.
Did you know you have to wax your board as well before you ride down?
My tour started in a small office in San Pedro. I had walked there half asleep, but motivated to have some fun stuff coming up.
Our group was mainly guys, two girls and a family. The people were fun and easy to talk to and as most of us had our GoPros with us, we were happy to receive helmets, we could attach these to.
Each of us got a random sandboard (which is actually a scratched and tortured snowboard) handed and we made our way to the bus that was going to drive us towards Death Valley. We had thirty minutes to get to know each other until we arrived at the National Park. There you need to pay a small entrance fee to enter.
Gopro set – boots in my size found- board waxed- ready to go.
Well… kind of ready considering the walk up those sandy dunes is far away from being fun. I regretted not having done any sports during the past few days and tortured my way up to the top.
Once we arrived on top, our guide (who had by far the most amazing desert sunglasses!) gave us a quick introduction on how to ride down.
If your familiar with snowboarding it might help to say that sandboarding is kind of similar to riding through powdery deep snow. You have to lean back a little and make sure the tip of your board sticks out. Going down in curves will help you slow down as well.
Keep in mind that sand does NOT hurt at all if you fall on it.
This is actually pretty useful to know as you can ride down as fast as you like in one straight line speeding up a LOOOOT!
Hahahahaha. I loved it! First time was the best one- probably because i was too tired to be scared and just rode down in a straight line.
Walking up: not so much fun!
Going down again: YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAH!
The third time I walked up I wanted to master the sand dune and went up to the peak.
“It’s way faster from there”, someone shouted at me.
I didn’t care and rode down as fast as possible. Well … “possible” kind of means “actually not really possible” at all. I was tumbling and falling and swallowed a lot of sand. Probably because I was laughing whilst it happened.
No pain at all though. And a lot of fun.
In total I rode down five times and this was a lot I felt. I’m not exaggerating here when I say that walking up 120 meters of sand is not easy.
But I also have to say that it’s totally worth it.
I spent the last hour of our trip sitting up there on the dune talking to people overlooking the mountains. It was beautiful.
At around midday we made our way back as the sun came out and it actually got way too hot to do sandboarding.
Once you’re in the Atacama desert and can’t decide what to do, skip the Moon Valley and go sandboarding instead.
Swallow some sand, smile and be happy.