Doha, the capital of Qatar, is not a place that has ever been on the top of my bucket list but when planning my trip to Bali I realized I had a chance to visit this Middle Eastern capital and jumped on it. When doing research of the top things to do in Doha I kept seeing different iterations of tours offering sand duning or desert exploration so I figured it would be a good idea to book one of them. I ultimately went with the Doha Desert Safari : Camel Ride, Sandboarding & Inland Sea becausestars with more than 350 reviews as a good sign on any site and I was not disappointed.
Despite the name of the tour featuring three key activities we actually did six: camel riding, dune bashing in a 4×4, sandboarding, a visit to the Inland Sea, and sunset over the dunes plus for me, a bonus photo shoot. Let me take you step by step through my afternoon in the desert.
After an hour drive from the center of Doha past numerous housing developments, stadiums being built for the 2022 World Cup, and oil refineries we arrived at a high way stop lined with camels, tents, and ATVs. The camel ride was not very long or far – just a 10 minute walk around the tens – but for those who had not been on a camel before I am sure it was a great experience. For me, having been three camel rides totally more than five hours in the past year (here and here) I could have easily skipped this part but it was fun none the less!
After everyone had taken their turn on the camels and we sipped tea in the tents the guides partially let the air out of the tires of the 4×4’s to head to the dunes. For nearly an hour we drove up and down massive dunes and at many times all you could see was sand in any direction you looked. It was a very fun experience and scary at times especially when the cars slid sideways down the dunes and it almost felt like we were going to tip. They actually say as part of the tour, “It is not recommended that you eat 2-3 hours before the safari trip to avoid sickness during the dune bashing” and it takes less than five minutes of driving to understand why!
During the sand duning we stopped on the top of one to take photos in a spot where all you could see was sand. Luckily in my car there happened to be a photographer from the United Arab Emirates and he nicely took my camera and took a few shots of me which I greatly appreciated! Usually during solo travel I am lucky if I even get one photo that is good and thanks to this Dubai photographer I have a handful of great ones to choose from:
We then drove a bit further to a spot that was ideal for sandboarding due to the pitch of the slope and the view of the sea. The drivers, most of whom were Qatari locals, pulled two kinds of boards out of the trunks – one where you could stand and one for sitting. Since my few attempts at snowboarding did not go well I opted for the sitting which you can see below. On my second attempt I went into a full tailspin at the bottom and ended up tumbling at least 10 meters and was covered head to toe in sand!
The photo above, one girl got sandboarding down pat! After the sand boarding we drove to a dune which gave a gorgeous view of the Inland Sea of Khor Al Adaid. From the top of the dune our feet were in Qatar and the far side of water you could see Saudi Arabia. While everyone else on the tour just took in the view from the top of the dune I had read the reviews that said there was a chance to go swimming and I jumped right in. Swimming in international waters was quite an experience and it was nice to wash all of the sand off from my sand boarding tumble, however bringing a towel would have been a good idea…
^^ can you see me swimming?
After getting out of the water and climbing up the VERY steep hill back to the jeep we drove a few minutes to a different high spot to take in the sunset as it quickly set amongst the clouds. It was such a pretty sunset and actually much prettier than the one we saw in the Sahara due to the dust storm!
Would you go on a tour of the Sand Dunes of Qatar?