Let’s explain two things first. One: Dune bashing is riding dune buggies or, in Doha, Qatar, luxury SUVs on massive, shifting mountains of sand, with the wild abandon and excitement of a video game, but with real sand blowing in your face. Two: Where in the world is Doha, Qatar? Doha is the capital of Qatar, which is a small, but wealthy country located on a piece of desert jutting into the emerald green waters of the Persian Gulf.
Now that we have the definitions and geography established, let’s talk about the experience. How often have you seen or read about a place or experience, but when you got there or did it, you were disappointed because it did not live up to the hype? Dune bashing in Qatar is just the opposite! Everything about it—the size of the dunes, the thrill, the location, and the people—will exceed your expectations.
A 45-minute drive from Doha delivers you to a unique setting, where sand dunes three to four stories high end almost in the beautiful waters surrounding Qatar. Along the road to the entrance of the dunes you can find an amazing variety of food trucks and small restaurants, offering everything from hamburgers, gelato, fried seafood, and traditional Middle Eastern cuisine like kebabs and humus. You can even stop to watch a camel race.
Although you are certain to enjoy the culinary options, that is only a prelude to the real fun awaiting you once you enter the dune recreational area and start pumping your adrenalin. The entrance to the dunes has you drive over a flat area, where when the winter rainfall creates shallow lakes abundant with sea birds. At first you think“ What’s so special?” Then you see the massive dunes in front of you, around you and soon behind you, surrounding you like you are on the set of the Dune movie. Massive dunes as far as you can see, with the natural architectural beauty that the ocean winds are constantly carving and redesigning.
The sheer size and vertical rise of the dunes makes you wonder “How can a vehicle climb to the top?” But then you see a two-person dune buggy with no windshield, but goggles on the driver and passenger airbags, zooming and vrooming up the sand. Then you see another buggy racing horizontally across the dune with the buzzing sound of a massive mechanical bee. You wonder how that is possible, and either swear you will never do that or are excited to get in a dune buggy to do the same thing.
Getting into the dune buggy you have a realization that the vehicle is so light that the only protection you can depend on is the roll bar. But the thrill of racing up, down, and across the dunes eliminates any safety concerns.
The rush of driving down the first three-story dune, racing up another dune, and then riding on the narrowing edges of the next dune, until you have to make a split-second
decision on which way to descend 50 feet to the flat sand is exhilarating. You have done the seemingly impossible and survived. You cannot wait for your driver to start up the next dune, repeating the adventure, always on a dune of a different shape and height.
The anticipation pays off.
If you want to take a break from the excitement you can take a five-minute drive down to the beach to get a bite to eat and a drink, see some Arabian oryx, the antelope with scimitarshaped horns that are the Qatari national symbol. But you will certainly be back on the dunes shortly after the peaceful break because there are other dunes to conquer, more adrenaline to pump, and more smiles on your face to make.
If you are interested in dune bashing in Qatar, or any of the other exciting activities in Qatar, effective June 1, Qatar Airways operates the only nonstops from Atlanta to Qatar.
By Brandy Drusch