Sand Surfing in Peru

I chose to go sand surfing during the afternoon/evening session to avoid being out in the blaring sunlight. Apparently, there is a constant overlooming cloud in the town of Lima, but once you go twenty minutes outside the city, the clouds clear and the sun can be seen. I discovered this on the bus ride to Ica and it was reinforced once we arrived in the desert oasis of Ica. Our hostel was surrounded by endless mountains of sand, or dunes, as I guess they are more properly called.

At 4:30pm, I boarded a “dune buggy” to depart for our sand surfing adventure. A dune buggy is similar to an SUV, with the doors replaced by metal bars and seatbelts that go over your head, locking you firmly in place as if you are on an amusement park ride.


Since I could never fully understand the directions given to me since they are spoken in Spanish, I boarded the dune buggy with what I thought were the necessities: a camera, water and sneakers. Looking around I noticed that everyone was wearing sunglasses. About to embark into a desert of sand, sunglasses might have been a good idea…Without warning, our driver accelerated full speed into the dunes.

From here forward the experience is difficult to describe. Imagine being in an SUV without doors, driving full speed through endless mounds of sand, with nothing else in sight. I gripped the bar in front of me with all my might as the driver accelerated down slopes approaching 90 degrees, swerving in circles over bumps that made me thank the lord for my seatbelt.

Once we were what seemed like miles away from civilization, the buggy stopped and the sand surfing began. Or rather, the sand sliding began, since once the height of the mounds of sand were seen, everyone chose to glide down on their stomachs on the board, rather than their feet. Gripping onto the straps intended for feet, tucking my elbows in, spreading my legs and lifting my feet off the ground, I took off down the hill…To my surprise, no sand got in my eyes as I glided smoothly down to the bottom, speeding up rapidly as I approached the bottom.

The slopes got a bit steeper as time went on and I’m not going to lie, I dragged my feet a tad bit on the last hill of the day, so that I would avoid wiping out.

Some engine trouble on the way back left us stranded in the sandy oasis while we waited for a new buggy to come and pick us up. At the end, covered in sand, we made our way back to civilization, exhausted from a great day.

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Older comments on Sand Surfing in Peru

Sam Sahagun
26 March 2010

I wish we had places like this in the US where we could sandboard. anyway, here’s a link to my video of my day in Ica and ending in the awesome sandboarding adventure:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at55j2En29I