It’s a wonder my right hand is not tightly gripped to the Toyota 4×4 south of Doha. I always think of myself as the adventurer sort though off-road was never on my list of things to do. No doubt it’s a control issue for me especially if I’m not driving. Don’t misunderstand. My aim is never to control people, but when my safety is involved, I want to be in the driver’s seat.
That said, exploring Qatar is delightful especially if you’re partial to desert landscapes. Being a desert dweller myself, and having grown up in Tripoli, stark arid landscapes feel like home to me.
This day the Inland Sea topped my list of things to do in Qatar. If you’re unfamiliar, the Inland Sea (Khor Al Adaid) is where the Arabian Peninsula encroaches deep into the heart of Qatar’s desert and sand dunes. The inland sea can’t be reached by a direct road. Instead, the expanse of water can only be reached by crossing the rolling sand dunes. It is one of only a few areas like this in the world.
One popular activity in Qatar is dune bashing. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what dune bashing meant until the driver lowered the air pressure in the tires, got back into the driver’s seat, then revved the engine and raced toward the dunes. This is the point where my right hand grabbed the car door’s armrest. When I let go, I don’t remember.
Given the dune bashing video, which you can view above, you’d think I’d expected a driving thrill as my GoPro was attached to the engine hood. The opposite is true. I had placed the GoPro to capture the entire journey and stunning Qatar landscape.
To be honest, I still tense up while watching the video. I go right back into the passenger seat of the 4×4.
To provide a full-on show for the action cam, the driver revved the engine a bit harder and drove a lot faster than normal. He wanted me to have the best possible video. That’s all well and good except the rambunctious driving caused a hard bounce onto the ground which cracked the car’s radiator. No one could have predicted a stalled 4×4 in the middle of the sand dunes of Qatar but this is what happened. I look at the incident as good intentions gone awry and part of the adventure.
Good fortune was on our side and a fellow driver passed through about forty-five minutes later. With a rescue at hand, I did indeed see the Inland Sea, an incredible sunset and I made it to the airport in time for my flight to Bali.
What is dune bashing?
Dune bashing means driving at increasing and decreasing speeds over sand dunes. As the surface of the sand keeps shifting, it takes a special skill and a special type of car to navigate the terrain – usually a sports utility vehicle (SUV). Expect a stop to let the air out of your tires as reducing the pressure gives the vehicle more traction against the moving sand.
What to expect
The experience starts with pick-up at your hotel, followed by a 45 minute to an hour-long drive out to sparse desert landscape where there are no city noises to obscure your hearing and no towering buildings to block your view.
The dune bashing part of the trip is a bumpy and thrilling ride that lasts about an hour. You will experience the slipping, sliding, the skidding and the spinning – all punctuated by sporadic seat-gripping. And sand, lots and lots of sand!
Map Showing Where Dune Bashing in Qatar Takes Place ::