January 11, 2008

Qatar Sand Dunes Adventures

During my early days here, one of the things I really want to experience is Sand Dunes Bashing (also known as desert safari) but we didn't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle then. Also, I am not aware of any tour operators doing such tours during that time. Then, as I got busy with work, I've forgotten about about it already

When we went to Dubai in 2006, we finally had the chance to have our first Sand Dunes Bashing experience. It's a one of a kind experience and we had a lot fun. But after that, I wasn't sure I'd like to do it again until my brother's visit last December.

The day before Christmas, my husband arranged a desert safari tour from Qatar International Adventures. We decided to have an afternoon trip. We met our driver/tour guide at the agreed the pick-up point at 2pm and we headed south of Doha to Mesaieed. We made our first stopped in the Sealine Beach Resort area to prepare the vehicle for our Sand Dunes adventure. While the driver is deflating the tires, my brother and my uncle enjoyed a short camel ride for Qr 20 (each person). You can consider it a tourist trap but if you really want to experience a camel ride and have a photo-op, just pay QR 20.

After our brief stop, we drove to the in-land sea and to the Qatar-Saudi boarder together with two other cars. Trips are usually done in groups for safety reasons. Along the way, the driver did some driving tricks but not as adventurous as the ones we experienced in Dubai. But we're glad that he is concerned about our safety. Besides, his car is not equipped with roof cage to prevent the car from caving in passengers in case of overturn.

On our way to Qatar-Saudi boarder, one of our tires was damaged. We stopped to change the damaged tire. I believe we're very near UAE because our mobile phone had Etisalat's signal. The drivers of other two vehicles also stopped to give a helping hand to our driver. This is why trips has to be in groups so that if any of the cars needs assistance, somebody can help right away. The tire looked scary, isn't it?

After changing the tires, we headed to the beach at Qatar-Saudi boarder. The Emir has a big tent near the shore. This time, our mobile phones had a Saudi signal. The beach was AWESOME! There were some folks fishing at the bay. We were told that they can catch big fishes there. Fishing and overnight camping for our next trip would be a great idea.

The last stop is at QIA camp. They have a nice big camp complete with facilities such as arabic tents, bathroom, etc. This camp is used for overnight camping in the desert. However, desert safari tours with overnight camping can be arranged for minimum of 30 people.

In Dubai, desert safari tour is a popular tourist attraction. Usually, large group of cars do the bashing all together. Then after the dunes bashing, everyone gathers in a camp for camel ride, barbecue dinner, unlimited drinks (soft drinks, juice, Arabic coffee), shisha, henna painting, pictorial with national costume and sand boarding. The highlight of the night is a belly dancing show. All these are included in the tour price. There are also souvenir shops and buggy rentals. While dunes bashing in Dubai is a lot more adventurous and more organized, the in-land sea and awesome beach at Saudi boarder can only be experienced in Qatar. So if you are in Qatar or planning to visit Qatar, do have a Qatar Desert Safari Tour.

Here are video clips of belly dancing in Dubai.

Qatar Dune Bashing Photos
Dubai Dune Bashing Photos: Part 1 - The Adventure, Part 2 - In the Desert, Part 3 - Belly Dancing


Chris said...

Hi Nina!
How much did you pay for the Sand Dunes Adventures? Is it safe to bring a 4 year old kid with us? And can you make reservations for only 3 people?

Nina Lumberio said...

Hi Chris,
We paid around QR175 each x 5 person. My colleagues also had a desert safari tour but they book the tour from Arabian Adventures and they were charged QR 750/vehicle. I think the going rate is QR 750 - 850 per vehicle.

The 4-wheel drive we used for tour apparently was only rented by the tour company. My husband got the number of the driver. If you are interested, I can give you the number just contact him directly.

I think it's safe to bring your daughter as long as you won't do dangerous tricks.

What you can do also is drive to Mesaieed (you don't need 4x4)up to the sealine area and rent buggy/ATVs for about QAR 100/hr.