Kiteboarding: a new but familiar challenge for the skateboarder

Not be in the papers and top sports blogs in the same way that football, ice hockey, tennis, and car racing are, kiteboarding has nevertheless been growing in popularity over the last few decades. Not only is it a sport unlike any other that requires agility, strength, and flexibility in addition to something of an adventurous spirit, it also provides quite a few enthusiasts a sound excuse to get out of the sofa and see the world. If you’re new to the sport of kiteboarding,  you’re in for a rewarding hobby but there are more than a couple things you’ll need to take under consideration before you start travelling the globe looking for the perfect wave.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, one needs to bear in mind that kiteboarding is not always the safest of sports when considering that fact that it is always done in nature. And like other sports performed outdoors—like sailing, skiing, skydiving—changes in weather, especially sudden ones, can led to fatal outcomes if proper care is not taken. But I don’t want to discourage the would-be kiteboarder because most of the time kiteboarding is perfectly safe. Do however bear in mind that you should have a thorough weather forecast before starting out for the day.

Even before you get to the water, if you’re first-timer you’ll probably want to have lessons. As dull as it can sound for adrenaline sport junkies, kiteboarding shouldn’t be taken lightly and you’ll want to have an experienced kiteboarder with you. Although the sport incorporates skills common in other sports you may already know how to do, like sailing, surfing, or snowboarding, it is a sport of its own and should be treated thusly.

As with any sport, it has a large fanbase and quite a few people enjoy travelling to large tournaments like the international the Kiteboarding World Championships. With events held in France, Italy, China, and Egypt during the 2016 championships, it’s no wonder that kiteboarding is a favourite of travel lovers.

But before doing that—competing internationally for rank that is—you might be wondering how long learning will take you. The good news there is for the complete beginner it doesn’t require too much more than a couple of days’ investment—usually 10 to 20 hours in total— before one learns the basics. As with other sports were balance is crucial though, the steep learning curve usually means that there can be a lot of potential for injury—don’t try this sport without an expert—and you’re probably going to fall a lot.

Nevertheless it’s usually possible to get the basics down, especially if you’re an avid skateboarder, since so many of the skills are transferable.

My top five picks for an adventure holiday

1. Dasht-i-Lut. This desert in Iran might be only the 25th largest in the world at 51 000, but it’s one of the hottest and driest places on the planet. The highest recorded temperature in the desert in western Iran, on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, was about 70 C, making it one of the hottest (and the hottest by some measurements) places on the entire planet. With such extreme conditions, survival is tough which means that the bit of land has remained unchanged by humans for the entirety of human history.

2. Colorado River. At La Poudre Pass in the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado (a bit northwest of the state’s capital, Denver) an unassuming stream begins its journey to the the Gulf of Cortes between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. By the time the stream reaches its destination it will have carved through the Grand Canyon, a testament to the ancient courses of the river. Although the river flows through a developed country its territory is pure wilderness. Rafting now the river would be an exhilarating treat.

3. Mt Everest Base Camp. In the Nepalese and Tibetan Himalaya one finds the worlds highest mountain. As exotic and synonymous with adventure as Mount Everest is, the base camp itself has become something of a tourist hotspot. While journeying to it may seem remarkable—and it’s no small feat—most people in reasonably good health should be able to make the journey provided they have enough time. The journey on foot takes roughly a week from Lukla, the highest point in the valley to land safely and easily reachable from Kathmandu. With teahouses and Buddhist temples as accommodation along the way, it’s a cultural adventure as much as a nature one.

4. Scoresby Sound. Not for the light-hearted or the cold-blooded! This inlet that cuts into Green just north and east of Iceland has icebergs in its water throughout the year. Kayaking through it proves a challenge and only for those with enough courage to brave the elements. For those brave enough for a northern paddle, they will be rewarded with schools of orca, as known as killer whales, seals, and possibly a polar bear or two. You wouldn’t be the first human to set foot on the shores though, as this area was first inhabited by Vikings some 1000 years ago. Remnants of their camps can still be found today.

5. Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an adventurers classic. The highest peak in Africa is no walk in the park, especially when considering the possibility of altitude sickness, but for a reasonably experienced hiker making the summit shouldn’t prove too challenging. Along it’s located inside Tanzania, the nearest city to fly into is Niarobi, Kenya and then make the journey overland into Tanzania. Beyond the trek itself one is bequeathed the opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous wildlife—and sadly, wildlife that might only be round for a few more years.