by Trudie Broekmann
Here’s our suggestion for a super-fun day out for the whole family in one of the most beautiful environments around Cape Town – plus, it’s a bit of an undiscovered treasure. Various adventure tour companies offer organised tours, but it’s even more fun to make your own sandboards and try sandboarding at your own pace.
R45 entry fee for kids and R65 for adults – best to take cash.
Picking a date:
Check the weather report beforehand – it can be very unpleasant if it’s windy.
Where to go:
If you don’t know the area, put Atlantis Dunes Gate into Google Maps and you’ll find the spot – approximately, 36 km from Cape Town CBD.
Once you get there, you need to get a permit for each person from the Ticket Office, which opens at 8:00 am and is equipped with decent restrooms. Leave your car in the parking area and walk through the gate, where you will need to present your receipt. About 200 m past the gate, you find yourself on the crest of a breathtakingly high dune, where you can get your board out to give sandboarding a whirl.
Who can participate:
Rookies and pros are all welcome. This activity is ideal for kids aged 5 and older. Note: You need to be fit enough to climb a dune and be willing to get a bit dirty!
What to pack:
Sunblock, sunglasses and a sandboard between every two or three participants. A tin of floor wax e.g. Cobra and an old cloth to apply your wax to the sandboards. We recommend wearing old clothes – the experience isn’t complete without taking a tumble. Pack your phone to take lots of photos and videos (there is cell phone coverage on the dunes). Keep a cool drink in the car for your return.
It is a bin-free environment, so please make sure you bring all of your rubbish out with you.
Making your own sandboard:
Get a pre-cut piece of hardboard at a hardware shop – our recommended dimensions would be about 600 x 1200 mm. We added a 6mm plywood layer glued on underneath (rough side of the hardboard glued to the plywood), but it’s not necessary. Ideally the board should curve upwards a little in the front – you could achieve that by placing a weight in the middle of the board and encouraging the edges gently upward.
How to sandboard:
Lug your board to the top of the dune (it doubles as a handy climbing aid if you wedge it into the dune in front of you, then use it to pull yourself up in steeper areas). Apply wax generously to the bottom of the board, especially to the area at the foot of the board, where you will sit.
Find a route where the sand is firm, without ridges or footsteps and the dune is steep enough to ride.
Direct your board down the slope in its length, hardboard side upward if you have a plywood layer on your board (if using only hardboard, the smooth side is underneath). Sit down on your board with your knees bent, lean backward, wiggle a bit till you start moving. Steer by trailing your hands behind you in the sand. Any steering will slow you down, so avoid contact with the sand unless you’re going off course.
You can try crouching on the board once you get more advanced.
- Wax your board each time between rides.
- Two riders on one board go much faster than one. The lighter person needs to sit at the back.