Driving on Oman's dunes

T-Mag Wednesday 10/January/2018 18:24 PM
By: Times News Service
Driving on Oman's dunes

Driving, for me, has been a very liberating experience. When I’m stressed and want to get away from things, going for a long drive tops the list of things I do, sometimes even surpassing having a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream. I know a lot of other people for whom driving is not just about going from point A to point B. For some, it is a thinking tank, where they get inspired while on long scenic drives, the others make it a party place, blasting their music sets and for some others, it is an amusement ride that triggers their adrenaline.

One such adrenaline boost is what you get while you are on the vast expanse of Oman’s deserts. The massive dunes that the Sultanate is famous for does a better job than a roller coaster track in giving you the thrill and adrenaline rush and the shades of brown glistening under the sun provide the visual appeal that would want you to stay amidst it for longer. So I don’t see why all the nature/desert loving adrenaline junkies shouldn’t try out Guide Oman’s expeditions.

This Destination Management Company organises a number of trips and expeditions throughout the year, not just in deserts but also atop mountains, and in wadis. However, it is the desert experience that has fascinated me the most. Is it just me, or does it actually feel like the deserts are home to infinite unanswered questions and mysteries?

And imagine venturing out in the wild in your car and experiencing the thrill under controlled circumstances with all the safety you could ask for. This is just what Guide Oman offers in its tours.
“Our Desert Safaris allow guests to enjoy the thrill of desert driving, learning the skill and experiencing the challenges that come with off roading and the reward that comes from the sheer accomplishment of achievement. Our Desert Safaris have become popular due to our exceptional crew who provide 5-star catering while on a sand dune, and the 3R Crew (Relief, Rescue and Recovery) are a team with endless patience and support, with us for all the recovery and assistance that is essential with tackling driving through this terrain”, says Rebecca Mayston, manager at Guide Oman.

The Desert Safaris organised by Guide Oman are self drive experiences where you get to learn a lot while having the time of your life. All the team and 4X4s meet to traverse into the base camp, where the awesome crew conducts an orientation to familiarise people with the key skills of driving in the desert. People going on the safari are taught to understand their vehicle, learn more about behaviour of the desert, the importance of caring for the environment, and even get introduced to the bedouin cultures and traditions. Once that is done, one car leads the group and the others follow. “Our trips are much like an off road club”, Rebecca says, as the trips have such a friendly family like atmosphere.

The Guide Oman trips are made up of a variety of participants, some of whom don’t miss a single trip, others who come in and go and of course numerous newcomers who join in. “Majority of our clients are Omanis and expatriates who seek out adventure filled weekends, with GCC residents committing to the extended weekend making the drive through to join us.”

She adds, “Some say they join us because the sand in Oman is much softer and challenging than they are familiar with (so far Doha and Riyadh are holding the record for biggest commutes to the start point for guests). Growing numbers of international clients are joining, and we were thrilled on our last ladies only trip to have 19 different nationalities in participation.”

Thankfully, the Guide Oman team has a full crew, from the nurse to mechanics to chefs and support staff to take care of the needs of all those joining them. However, one needs to make sure that the safety tips are followed when venturing out in the sands, if they do not have this essential support on hand.

This is a great weekend escape where you get to learn a lot about your car and can tremendously improve your driving skills apart from learning more about the desert, Oman’s culture and heritage. Two things you will learn out of these trips will be to respect your car and respect the desert. An important part for us all is to remember to take photos and leave only footprints and tyre tracks... Guide Oman urges guests to assist them to keep the desert cleaner than when they arrived. There are rules that need to be followed and you will need to pay full attention to the instructors and group leaders while on the trip. “Being unprepared is always the biggest risk! One should never go solo into the desert, and should never go without the necessary support and equipment required,” Rebecca says. But this doesn’t mean that the trip is any less adventurous or is way too safe for the liking of an adrenaline junkie. The experienced crew will take you deep into uncharted terrain, but the key is that everybody goes together, safety in numbers.

People who have gone on such trips have loved it for a number of reasons ranging from the professional crew, the spots selected, the incredible star-gazing experience at night, or just because they get to drive in the desert stress-free without worrying about safety or getting lost or getting stuck in the sand... and some simply love to enjoy the company of the team and the delicious Guide Oman meals.

Before going on a trip
• 4x4 vehicle (unlike a lot of companies that host car-specific desert expeditions, here you can in your own 4x4. Check with the team to find out the suitability of your own 4x4)).

• Recovery Equipment – Tyre deflator, rope, spade, jack, and compressor (if you have).

• Your camping equipment: It is supremely cold now so get everything you can to keep you warm and comfy at night.

• Toiletries, washing water, and bug repellent (Sometimes they attack the smelly people).

• Sun screen, sunglasses and a cap.

• Cameras. Too many DP’s and instagram pictures await you.

Jan 11 -13 Sharqiyah Desert
Jalan Bani Bu Ali entry
Jan 25-27 Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter)
Feb 8-10 Sharqiyah Desert
Jalan Bani Bu Ali entry
Feb 22-24 Rub Al Khali
March 8-10 Sharqiyah Desert
Al Kamil entry
March 22 - 24 Sharqiyah Desert
Jalan Bani Bu Ali entry
April 12-14 Sharqiyah Desert
Khuwaymah entry

Safety Tips
• Drive with lights on at all times.
• Always offer to help someone in need.
• Although we have recovery gear with us, it will be nice to bring yours if you have it.
• Seat belts, at all times. Yes, this includes passengers in the front and the back.
• Avoid walking around plant life barefoot, some creepy crawlies have a nasty bite.
• Avoid plant life when setting up your tent.
• If you are not healthy, have back injuries or heart issues, do not participate — a doctor/first aider is not always enough.

Guide oman
+968 9803 8820

[email protected]