Having spent virtually my whole childhood driving dune buggies and racing through desert tracks in video games, a desert safari was something I could not leave without when in Qatar for a week-long work trip.
Being a lone traveler I prefer going about exploring on my own, which I did on the last day of my stay, to rejuvenate myself after a hectic week of work. After enquiring from a couple of people and the internet about local renting companies, I rented a car to drive away from the bustling Doha city to the heart of the surrounding desert.
I got lucky in obtaining a car as there are regulations regarding tour guides and solo safaris and didn’t mind the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is well equipped for off-roading, but proved a bit costly as it is meant for 4. Anyhow, it was worth the experience of driving around in solitude. I set about with a little packet of dates, lots of water and some famous Arabic Samuli bread left from breakfast. In a few minutes, I had left the futuristic landscapes of the city, meeting the horizon across the flattened lands and smattered oil refineries. The setting sun too seemed to be bidding me farewell.
I drove for a couple of hours in the sandy expanse and saw a few cars dune bashing in the distant. As for me, I preferred my less adventurous and calmer ride. Going ahead, I came across a camp of sorts where a group of tourists was getting ready for their camel rides. I refreshed myself with some sweetened Arabic tea available there and headed towards my first ride on the animal which was dressed in vibrant blues and reds. The slow lazy walk was across the golden dunes which were changing their contours with the cool breeze as night approached.
I got down, sent back the camel with the tour guide and made further into the heart of the desert on foot. A few minutes later, I came across an inviting sand dune and lay down atop it to rest and captured the panoramic view in my mind as well as my camera for I didn’t want these memories to fade with time.
The song Sea Of Dreams by Oberhofer played in my ears as I lay under the star-spangled sky twinkling in the vast darkness. Feeling indeed like a horse with no name, alone and away from the buzz of life I felt one with nature, with the universe. The sprawling sandy expanse, the cold cold wind, and the silence mingled with the singing dunes leaving my soul content. The groups of crescent-shaped dunes hummed from the grains of sand that slid down the slopes. The sound reverberated for miles across my mind and the desert.
Having rested a bit, I consulted my map and compass and walked on to reach the coastline of the Inland Sea. The famous Khor Al Adaid, whose stretch of water separates Qatar from Saudi Arabia, which can be seen across the channel. The sand dunes behind me in Qatar were a stark contrast to the rocky, arid landscape of Saudi Arabia in front.
The clear water reflected the pale bright moonlight and illuminated a few crabs skittering about the shore. I spent some time ruminating on the seashore till my stomach grumbled and I made for the traditional Bedouin tents I could make out in the distance. I ate at the hot barbeque there with a group of tourists and smoked some shisha whose smoke wafted around, hazing my view of the already shimmering sea.
I made a mental note to journey through the desert with a tour guide in order to experience I may have missed this time. Anyhow, my night at the desert was truly an exhilarating experience, calming and rejuvenating my mind and soul.