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Travel Namibia - Sandboarding in Swakopmund

NAMIBIA | Thursday, 10 October 2013 | Views [6688]

The Challenge

They say that you should do one thing each day that scares you. I couldn’t agree more. Or as I like to say, if not scares you, challenges you.

I love putting myself out of my comfort zone. Often. I find that each time I do, I discover something new about myself. You take a further peek into understanding what you’re actually capable of. The barriers of your comfort zone get pushed out to catch up to your new newly conquered challenge. You grow and now have a new benchmark. You also discover that you can actually do something you never thought you really could and survive in one piece (well sought of one piece). Going sand boarding in Namibia was one of those experiences for me.

You see, although a free spirit who thrives on adventure, I’ve haven’t learnt to surf or snowboard and I’ve only been skiing once (as someone who gets chilblains in moderate Sydney winters, I’m not a huge fan of the cold).  So I was really excited about the challenge of sand boarding under the hot Namibian sun over Namibia’s famous sand dunes. It was even more exciting as I had the coolest Namibian champion sand boarders giving me my introductory lesson. They were just like the team from the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ except that they were from Namibia (not Jamaica) and they conquered sand dunes, not bobsled tracks.

Finding my Feet

After a short lesson from the team I got to testing out my new skills on some of the smaller dunes. We all thought that the small dunes are where my challenge would start and also where it would end. But to my surprise and everyone else’s, I actually had balance! Who knew? It was also to everyone’s disappointment I didn’t actually fall and experience the true meaning of the word “Sand-which”… yet!

After conquering the first few dunes, I was completely buzzing, my adrenalin had kicked in. I was exhilarated and having the time of my life. With each bigger dune, I wanted to push further. I was fired up and I wanted to feel that kind of fear that makes you scream so much that you lose your voice and makes your heart beat so hard it feels like its going to jump out of your chest. The kind of fear that makes you feel incredibly alive. That fear you seem to experience so much more when you’re a kid. By now the smaller dunes felt like an awesome warm up, I wanted a bigger buzz.

The Big One

When we first arrived at the dunes we trekked past a HUGE dune called “Big Mamma”. It was ridiculously steep, I mean really ridiculously steep. Big Mamma collected speeds of 80km. On arrival I said there was NO WAY I would attempt to conquer Big Mamma. Especially because the boarders said this wasn’t a dune for beginners. Putting myself into that position and danger, at this stage, seemed pretty stupid. But somehow in my excitement, my adrenalin and my hunger for feeling that kind of fear, I found myself at the peak of Big Mamma ready to take her on and far out she was big!

To add to the craziness of this experience, I wasn’t taking on Big Mamma dune with any ‘real’ gear per-se. The team handed me a thin wooden sheet which had some slippery wax smeared  underneath it. Yep, here I was, face down, lying on my stomach on a thin wooden sheet smeared with slippery wax, tilted over the edge of Big Mamma dune, in Namibia, headfirst. In retrospect, it looked like a serious accident waiting to happen.

As I pushed myself over the edge, I was petrified. I was so scared, but I wanted to do it. I wanted the challenge and now I had it. As I started flying down the dune, I was screaming so hard that it felt like my voice box was going to pop out! As I continued to drop, it felt like it was going forever. Cutting through the wind, sand hitting my face I had to close my eyes from fear until it was over because this ride seemed to have no end. It was the exact same feeling of when you’re on a roller coaster, losing your mind but loving it at the same time. However, on this ride there was no belt or safety bar, so anything could happen.


Flying down Big Mamma dune at 80km with my eyes shut I didn’t see the flat base of the dune approaching. Not that anyone told me what to do when I did. The next thing I knew, with intense speed and the echo of my excited fearful screams, as my body hit into the flat base of the dune, my head smashed against the wooden sheet and the hard floor beneath it. I smashed my chin painfully hard. But I didn’t stop. I just kept gliding over the sand, going and going. I could hear what was the echo of my screams of exhilaration and fear become the echo of my painful moans.

I could then hear the crew calling out asking if I was OK as they ran over. I had to take a moment to breathe it all in before I could respond. I could hear the sound of the wind and see the open space of the dunes, it was so tranquil. I touched my face, my chin was swelling and throbbing but I wasn’t bleeding. I rolled over and looked back at the dune I just conquered. It was huge, even bigger than what I realised. I was so exhilarated and excited and proud of myself, I couldn’t believe what I just did. I never saw myself as someone who could do that sort of extreme and risky sport. I didn’t know I had that in me. Once I had conquered Big Mamma, I also realised how much worse things could have gone! Broken teeth, a broken neck or something even worse.               

But I didn’t give myself the chance to think of those risks in the excitement and the euphoric energy before taking on the dune, because the risk isn’t what adventure is about. It’s the thrill, the excitement, the journey, the unknown and the discoveries you make along the way. My literal double chin that had swollen to the size of a small ball was a token of conquering Big Mamma. It ignited a hunger in me to do more extreme sports like it. A wise man once said, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” On that day I’m so glad I was both of those things. And its my intention to do my best to keep it that way.

- Sussan Mourad

Want to watch more of Sussan's adventures in Namibia?

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Tags: action, adventure, africa, crash, fun, namibia, sandboarding, sports, swakopmund, travel

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