Last month, Zach and I finally convinced my dad and brother to come and visit us here in Doha. The one request they had for our trip is that it be casual without any plans or schedule.
So like any good daughter, I read between the lines and planned out their entire trip, hour by hour. Surely that is what they wanted, right?? Haha
The third day that they were here, I had planned a special trip where a skilled driver would come and pick us up directly from our tower and take us out to the dunes. We were so excited and woke up extra early, ready to roll…..and that is when we looked outside…. and saw that for the FIRST TIME SINCE WE HAVE LIVED HERE (10 months) it was POURING rain and the city was literally FLOODING.
Because of the extreme-dry climate, there simply isn’t a functioning drainage system and so all of the rain that came down was pretty much stagnant. Not only that but buildings here aren’t exactly airtight so they were cracking leaks and even the brand new airport looked as if it were raining inside! All of the schools and many businesses shut down, not to mention, wet dunes aren’t exactly safe (or fun!) for our adventure so we had to reschedule.
Luckily for us, Qatar Inbound Tours completely accommodated us and rescheduled our trip for that weekend. When THAT day finally came, the fam had been here for a while so it would take a little something to impress them at this point. I think everyone was excited when our driver pulled up in his classic, Arabian style land cruiser and full head to toe dish dash. His name was Amir (which means king in Arabic) so we joked with him that he was the king of the dunes.
We all piled in and headed straight out of the city, past the towers, towns and even oil refineries until all that we could see was golden sand. Living in the heart of the city, it is so easy to forget that this is what all of Qatar used to look like, even just a few decades ago. It wasn’t long before we had reached our destination, a bunch of camels!
This part was just a cherry on top, two by two, we got to take a little ride and I will just go ahead and say that camel riding is SUPER SCARY. On TV line in Sex in the City, it looks glamorous and cool but in reality, those things are TALL– and they have a bit of a mind of their own when it comes to walking around. As you can see, many of them wear these muzzles and that is actually because they tend to clamp down on human heads and crush the victims jaws!! Scary stuff — but the scariest (and funniest) thing that happened during our ride, was the moment when they set us back down on the ground. It is a long drop and they kind of just do it on their own timing so it feels a big like “the Superman” at six flags where you sit at the top of the ride holding your breath for it to drop. Dad nearly got flung right off of the thing!!
Next, we relaxed with some Arabic sweet tea (this stuff can seriously rival Texas sweet tea– and that is saying something!) and laughed about dad’s near death experience.
Once the entire pack had taken their camel ride, we all loaded back into the land cruiser with Amir and headed further into the dunes. We learned that these kinds of trips usually go in caravans of at least 3 cars as a safety measure. We also learned that having an experienced driver is ESSENTIAL not only because of the real danger of dune bashing, but because of how easy it is to get lost out in the desert. Cell phones lose service and the drivers actually revert to old school walkie-talkies to communicate between the cars in the caravan.
We quickly realized that Inbound Tours did it up for us and had us with Amir because his is their lead driver, with over 8 years of experience!
So we headed right out, bumps here and there as we went. None of us really knew what to expect as it was our very first dune bashing tour so with every bump we would squeal a bit, you know, letting Amir know that we were having fun….. THEN, WITHOUT A WORD A WARNING, Amir took us to the top of a dune and then began ATTEMPTING TO FLIP OUR LAND CRUISER!!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!!
He swerved hard left and I know we must have been on two wheels, then back right and the car literally spun OUT OF CONTROL!! The sand has little traction so with each movement we just went spinning!
I literally felt like the roll cage inside the car would be the only thing that could save us. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN and ONE OF THE SCARIEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE. Literally, BETTER than a roller coaster!!!!! People always said it was fun but it was SO MUCH MORE than I was even expecting– I’ve got to give all of the credit to Amir for that one.
Even when we thought we had gone through the craziest part of the tour, he went and found the tallest dune, I am talking slanted on one side and DROP OFF on the other. So okay we go up there and we are all on edge like omg at any moment we could fall off the edge and die THEN Amir pushes just a little too far AND WE START TILTING TOWARD THAT SIDE.
ALL OF A SUDDEN OUR ENTIRE CAR STARS SLIDING SIDEWAYS DOWN THE DUNE! OOOMMMG
Somehow, after screaming the entire way down, we survive.
At the bottom we looked up and then the next car in he caravan starts sliding and we realized that it was all part of the ride.
Holy cow. I was definitely NOT expecting that.
The fun continued until we got to our first stop, a perfect photo spot with another great hill.
It looked like so much fun so off with the shoes, we went to go jump in too!
The sand was warm and soft and we had the best time playing around in it. Afterwards, we drove a bit further and reached the boarder between Qatar and Saudi Arabia! It was really cool to see so we stayed for a while and enjoyed some drinks.
Finally, we headed to our final destination, the Inbound Tours campsite where people (who choose full day or overnight packages) stay for some BBQ on the beach and camping.
We just chose the 1/2 day so we headed from there back to the city.
What. An. Awesome. Day!
Zach and I agreed that dune bashing would not be able to be a one time event for us. We decided that it would at LEAST be a yearly tradition and we both already can’t wait for our next trip. The other thing that we know for sure is that Inbound Tours and Amir specifically, will forever be our guide of choice! All hail the King of the Dunes!