“Glide down a dune at full speed, break the wind, find your balance, feel the adrenaline and the freedom the desert provides!” This is sandboarding.
I was working on an article about different activities you can find in Rocky Point, when I first contacted Emmanuel Ortega via Facebook to see if I could talk to him about the little-known sport of sandboarding (well, at least here in town). I had been told he was the one to talk to, and his answer was a resounding yes.
You wouldn’t know it from his down-to-earth, relaxed, let’s get together and just hang attitude, Ortega of RP Sandcrew has been featured in extreme sports magazines, and has stood on the podium in international sandboarding competitions!
Rather than an interview, however, Emmanuel told me it would be better to live the experience. I loved the idea so we set up a time. We got together on a Thursday, May 10th, (yes, Mother’s Day in Mexico). There is no better way I could have spent Mother’s Day, along with my daughters and the desert dunes…
In the morning, after we got some supplies from OXXO, we were on our way in Emmanuel’s car down the dirt road that takes you out to the oyster farm, just off the highway towards Caborca. My daughters were, like always, chatting the entire way.
Once we got to our destination, our eager instructor unloaded the boards, which were larger than I had expected, and we walked to the top of a dune known as “Oyster farm dune”. From there you can really appreciate the desert scenery (and how steep it actually is!), along with the oyster farm, and even more dunes.
It was a hot sunny day, but our excitement easily won over!
Before we actually did glide down the dune, Emmanuel told us how he’s been sandboarding for a number of years now and how it’s allowed him to meet other sandboarders and visit other dunes, right up with those of Puerto Peñasco.
“There’s the Reina dune in the Gulf of Santa Clara, the largest in Mexico; there’s the dunes of Baja California, and I’ve also been to those of Samalayuca in Chihuahua. There are a lot of people who (sandboard), and it’s done in other parts of the world wherever there are dunes. Here, there´s the dunes near the oyster farm and those near the Schuk Toak (Visitors Center of the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve),” he explained, “the Schuk Toak dunes are more difficult to access; and there’s dunes near Sandy Beach.”
The particular boards we had for that morning were snowboards (provided by Emmanuel), but they are perfectly fit for sand.
Loaded with a sense of confidence the brief conversation with Emmanuel had left me, I glided down the dune first time sitting down. I guess I wasn’t that confident yet. It all seemed quite easy and smooth, and right behind slid down my daughters who did not stop screaming and giggling from excitement the entire time.
Ok, now it was time to finally go down standing on the board. Boots strapped on, the board, look at the camera and pretend to be brave, a hop, skip, and a jump later here we go!
As you glide down the dune you understand how people get addicted to this sort of activity! What adrenaline! Nothing touching you other than the sand and air, the ever-increasing speed, and no specific point to get to. Just go.
After my third trip down the dune (and many more falls!), and getting tired from the trips back UP the dune, it was great to sit down and have a dozen fresh oysters with salsa and lime, and some ceviche tostadas at the oyster farm right next to the dune.
This extreme sport, recreational activity, or however you like to categorize it, has no major complications. Everyone from kids to adults can enjoy this adventure, all you really need is comfortable clothes, sun-block, a nice shade for breaks, and a lot of energy (ah yes, and a board)!
So get out there, gather your friends and your family! Locally, boards can be rented directly from Emmanuel at around $200 pesos each. Best way to contact him is Cell phone: 638 384 0216.
If you’ve got your own board, that’s good too. Sandboarding is a gift that Rocky Point offers, offering natural spaces incomparable to many in the world. Yet, keep in mind – trek it in, trek it out – or rather picking up after a fun day on the dunes, making sure we keep these treasures clean and intact.
So, get on that board and jump, feel the adrenaline!