“Little dune buggy in the sand, little blue dune buggy in my hand, little blue dune buggy” – The Presidents of the United States of America.
I didn’t expect this to be enjoyable by any stretch. After all I grew up near a beach in Bangor in Northern Ireland and used to slide through the dunes of Castlerock or Portballintrae every summer as a kid. Plus, I had been on quad bikes before on a mates farm and I also tried them in Tasmania when I worked in remote farms as well as in The Azores. It didn’t have such a buzz to me. But here, as tourists backpacking in Saudi Arabia (following our “work” at the Hotel Show 2018) the quad biking in the sand dunes near Shaqra served as more of a highlight than expected. I didn’t even want to do it at first.
But Marko, our group leader had hired the quad and been all over the dunes so he let me have a go on it telling me it would be worth it, and he was right! We had just toured Shaqra and Ushaiger and had a cheeseburger happy meal at Kudu (Saudi Arabia’s DickMonalds equivalent). Shaqra had been relatively boring, but the day was action packed. We also visited the UNESCO world heritage site of Dir’Aiyah and visited Salt Flats and the village of Rabat. But now, here in wilderness of only sand dunes, we were wild on wheels. I won’t do a “how to get here” and “how to find it” as I couldn’t find this place again if I tried. We were driven there by our driver on the mini-bus after leaving Riyadh, the capital city.
The cost of the quad biking / dune buggying is 30 Riyals (£7) per person for 30 minutes. At the time I thought it was too steep and not something to indugle in. Especially since there were no other tourists here, the guys were lazing around doing nothing and this is a country where oil is cheap! Out of our group of 9, most of us felt the same and only 3 paid to do it. However for the last 5 minutes or so the rest of us were allowed to try them out! So I decided to try it and was shocked by the adrenalin rush and wind in my hair as I headed through the sand! Here are some photos of this experience, which in hindsight, we should all have done it and done it for a race. Now that travel is secondary to the Coronavirus, take these opportunities and do them.
I didn’t take any video of the dune buggy experience in Saudi Arabia, but these are from the place it all happened:
Here is the video of the song Dune Buggy by The Presidents of the United States of America: