There is no way words can do this justice. An overnight camping trip in the middle of the desert is something that needs to be experienced, not read about, but I will do my best.
Towards the end of our Eid break, a group of 14 teachers set off on an adventure into the desert. A few of the group had previously been on the evening safari, and encouraged the rest of us to join them for one that lasts overnight. So, Friday afternoon, around 3 o’clock, we met at our hotel and piled into 3 Land Cruisers. These vehicles would not only be our transportation, but also one of the best parts of the trip.
Dune bashing is one of those things you read about, watch videos of, and hear about before you get to Abu Dhabi. It terrifies some people, but I was extremely excited to go. I was careful to jump in the truck with a group that had been before and had asked for the craziest driver. We drove for about 30 minutes to get out of the city, and then the caravan of vehicles stopped to let some air out of the tires before we hit the actual desert. After that, we went off the road, into the sand and onto the dunes.
I can’t take credit for that photo…a friend who actually knows how to use his SLR took it, and it’s better than any I took. It captures the best part of dune bashing…sliding sideways down the dunes. The drivers are trained to go up, down, and over the dunes at relatively high speeds for off-roading, and the results are pretty freaking amazing. I really can’t describe it, you just have to experience it.
We stopped twice during dune bashing, and at one stop we finally got to see something we had managed to miss in our month in Abu Dhabi…camels! We are all living in the city, and you just don’t see them as much here as in Al Gharbia or Al Ain.
Right after the last picture, the camel bumped us with his head and we both ran. Those things are known to bite!
We stopped again for some pictures, and that’s when we discovered that Rihanna’s backup dancers were on the safari with us. She was in town for a concert.
This is an absolutely amazing group of people. I feel so blessed to know them all. I think we have 5 different nationalities represented in this photo. It’s so great to watch connections be made and bonds formed among people who are from such different places and cultural backgrounds.
We did a bit more dune bashing, then arrived at our home for the night. A huge fence surrounding a stage, low tables and pillows, and tents for sleeping.
The tour company has many activities to choose from: camel riding, sand-boarding, henna, 4-wheelers, and trying on traditional clothing.
Riding camels with Katie.
As the sun went down, we sat down to eat and watch a belly dancer, Of course, one of Rihanna’s backup dancers joined her on the stage, as well as some other members of the audience. At this point, most of our group had moved away from the main area to a back corner to smoke shisha.
We ended up being the only group to stay overnight, so we had the entire place to ourselves. We stayed up most of the night talking, smoking, listening to good (and some bad) music, and watching the guys attempt to play soccer in the sand. It was a surreal feeling to be sitting in the middle of the desert, with the full moon as the only light, having great conversations with people I’ve only known for a month or less. This was one of the many times that I’ve felt like I am where I supposed to be in this season of my life, meeting people who are placed in my life for a reason.
We got a little bit of sleep (it was surprisingly cool), woke up, ate breakfast, and headed back into the city. If you’re ever in Abu Dhabi, this is on the “must do” list. It was extraordinary.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl