All cleaned up after our dip in the Persian Gulf and full from another mixed meze plate, we get a call from the Dune Bashing agency. Anand Raj from India is our tour guide. He picks us up in a white Land Cruiser. For some reason I offer to sit in the far back seat. He tells us the schedule: Dune safari, belly dancing, camel riding, dinner, all included. That sounds good for 25-30 bucks.
While we head out on the highway to the dune bashing site Anand hands us a pamphlet detailing the trip and some possible upgrades. We can also rent quads and bust around the sand dunes on them. Sounds fun but they are more pricey than the whole Safari trip itself. It comes to about fifty bucks for twenty minutes. Kind of expensive. “Have a think about it”, “First one to see a camel buys a round of beers”
The dunes shift from white to red about 30 mins into the drive. I can finally see the sky. It’s been obscured by dust and maybe overcast since we’ve been here, but out over the sand dunes there is a patch of blue.
We get to a rest stop where we meet up with other Dune Busters and people can use the bathroom since it’s 2 hours to the camp we’re going to. The place is filled with annoying vendors though, trying to push scarves and shit on us. I decide to wait outside. I’d rather take the heat than air conditioned soliciting.
“This hot wind is like a mack trucks exhaust”, “Well they’re leaving the cars on to keep the AC going”, “Oh so this really is car exhaust haha.” I step to the side. No the wind is still hot like car exhaust. Oh, the Land cruiser is still running and the doors are unlocked. Might as well wait in the chilled air instead.
The other group getting picked up here is from Vietnam. Doesn’t seem like they speak English and I certainly don’t remember any Vietnamese from our trip there. Kelvin brings us some pistachio and cashew ice cream bars. Narmz, thanks!
We go up the road a bit and then pull over by some red sand dunes. “Ok we need to change the tire pressure and then we’ll Safari. Please put on your seat belts.” Anand gets back in, looks back and smiles, “Ready?”, “Yes!”, “We shall see…”
Things start pretty tame but soon turn into a total roller coaster. Anand is gunning it up the sand dunes and cranking the wheel at the top, spraying sand up over the Land cruiser. We come back down the dune sideways, drifting like we’re on ice, wheels pointed up the hill but going the opposite direction. He spins the wheel to correct and when the tires gain traction we’re rocketed up another dune. This is rad as fuck!
Watching the other Land Cruisers drift down the dunes is mesmerizing. I’ve got a huge grin the whole time, Peter and I are giggling like stoned leprechauns.
Sometimes Anand crests a dune and you feel the drop in your stomach. Sometimes we’re just skimming the edge like we could go over and flip. We’re bumping and thrashing, I hit my head on the roof a few times. It’s got a reinforced roll cage. Sometimes we’ll rush up one side of a dune then switch to another dune then another like a ski slalom. Fuck I wish I was the one driving right now!
Anand is a good driver, there’s obviously some skill to this. He’s getting the Land cruiser into dangerous angles. We could have flipped it a few times there. We’re off on another topsy turvy dune romp. Kelvin starts coughing then holding his nose. Oh fuck, is he getting sick? Haha shit he is! “We’ve gotta stop here! He’s gonna throw up!”, “Really?” Anand stops and Kelvin whips open the door just in time and harfs into the sand below with a huge gwaaaaaaarwk! We can’t help but laugh. C’mon man, it’s not thaaaaaat bad haha. Poor guy.
We bash a few more dunes and then pull up to a break spot where we can get some pics. The desert scape is so cool. Can’t see anything but sand. Nothing living, the odd tree maybe, no animals or bugs. Just red sand and the designs the wind have cut into it. We hop out w Narcopiggy and get some shots.
We’ve picked up 2 older Japanese girls now from another vehicle. They don’t wanna talk or maybe don’t speak English. Doesn’t seem like dune bashing is their thing, they look shaken and terribly uncomfortable.
We cut away from the dunes and find a sand swept roadway. Desert roads w sand drifting across half of them and we’re weaving from one side to the other in another slow, sandy slalom to avoid them.
We come to a square fort in the middle of the desert. “This is Camp Al Aweer”, Anand tells us as we are getting out of the sand blasted Land Cruiser, “you will have dinner, drinks, and sheesha here. There will be dancing.”
Sounds good to me!