Head Out for a Thrilling Day of Dune Boarding in Morocco
When one thinks of Morocco, it immediately conjures up images of vast stretches of sand dunes, an oasis encircled with palm trees giving relief from the desert, and friendly locals who move about this land of smell and color. And while most try to get out of the desert, there are those adventure seekers who find the sand dunes to be an attraction and come to Morocco with their snowboards in hand. And even though snowboarding is not an option here, their snowboards are used for dune boarding.
Sand dunes, as their name clearly explains, are hills that are made purely from sand. Wind interaction changes the size and form of sand dunes and the forming of a sand dune is called the eolian process. Ergs, or dune fields, can have a variety of differently shaped sand dunes. Coastal sand dunes are formed by nature as a wall of protection against storm dangers. Most inland dunes are formed on ancient dried up sea beds or areas where lakes once covered the area with water. Because of the slopes in the desert being made from sand, dune boarding is a little different from snowboarding.
The best area for dune boarding in Morocco is in the Western Sahara. Most dune boarders stay in the Hassi Labied village, near the sea of dunes. The sand dunes here are some of the largest in the country and Hassi Labied is also the only village in the middle of the desert that has a ski shop. Here visitors can either buy or rent the necessary equipment to take on the dunes. Who would have thought that a shop that sells snow skiing gear would be successful in the Sahara Desert.
There are few things to remember before hurtling down the dunes though. Firstly, choose the steepest dune possible. This will assist in picking up speed, as sand causes friction and isn’t as smooth or as hard as snow. Skiing enthusiasts and snowboarders will have to take note not to lean forward when traveling down the dunes. This is a technique that is taught to skiers and snowboarders to keep them upright, but on a sand dune it will cause the board to nose dive into the sand. It is therefore critical that boarders lean back on their way down. Wearing a Berber headscarf might not be the most fashionable piece of clothing, but it will keep sand out of boarder’s ears and mouth. And one more thing, dune boarders should be reasonably fit, as there are no ski lifts and the climb to the top of the dune is a long and slow process, but worth it.
When a hard day of climbing dunes and gliding across their surface has come to an end, there is nothing more beautiful to witness, than the sun setting behind the large sand mounts. The shimmering tones of browns, oranges and yellows are a spectacular way to finish a perfect day of dune boarding in Morocco.