• Monday, July 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Daring the desert dunes

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At 100 kilometers per hour, the Toyota Land Cruiser GXR V6 seems crawling on the smooth six-lane Sheik Zayed Road. The driver who pays less attention to his front, bothers himself with the adventure ahead of his passengers.  With eyes  half fixed on the road, hands barely on the starring, his mind is with the expectant occupants of the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), who he often look back to cheer amidst thrilling stories of dessert safaris.

“Who among you have experienced bungee jumping or skydiving”, Mervyn Dabare, the Srilankan-born driver and guide, asks the passengers who did not respond for lack of such adrenalin-packed experiences.  Thrilled by the expected response he explains: “We are going for a 10-kilometer mind-blowing ride on sand dunes that will make you feel the pulse and life in the dry desert”.

After a 35-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, the SUV veers off the highway to an imposing rough-looking iron gate that tells less about the scenes happening behind it.

As the gate opens, it unveils a land expanse of desert sand dunes covering over 65 acres. “Welcome to Arabian Adventures Desert Safari”, our driver and tour guide says while heading to an automated pressure pump to reduce pressure of each if the four tyres of the SUV to 70 psi to ensure they do not  get off the vehicle while bashing the desert sand dunes at between 100 to 300 feet.

But the many SUV waiting to reduce their tyre pressure tell how popular the desert safari has become in recent time to visitors to Dubai.

Like the pilot, he warns passengers to wear the seat belts, which some ignored.  But after drive about 200 meters into the desert and increasing to 40 kilometers, the recommended speed, the those without seat belts had rough contacts with the opposite seats and some parts of the vehicle because of the swift movement, forceful forward and backwards thrusting of the vehicle while maneuvering the resisting desert sand dunes. The experience is better felt that explained as the violent maneuvering keeps the heart panting, the mind skipping and the whole body shrinking.

Both ladies and guys in the vehicle were all shouting for safety, calling on the driver to stop, especially on climbing a 250 feet sand dune. But the shouting for the driver confirms the passengers are having fun and also encourages him to accelerate further. A lady even throw up, but the adrenalin rush, the swift movement and mind skipping sensation of the safari ride did not allow other passengers to see to her plight. Some  who wanted water desperately slow their fast breath end up throwing the water in one corner of the vehicle because the persisting undulating movement of the vehicle on the sand dunes, though in sporty manner.

“Friends it is for a few kilometers, enjoy it while it lasts”, the driver and guide urges. While the SUV moves swiftly against desert’s undulating landscape, it raises fast spreading dust that impaired visibility. When it clears, you can see the many SUV that dot the several kilometers sand dune bashing route like a car rally fiesta.

On getting to the 8th kilometer, the driver stops and park for the passengers to catch their breath, take pictures and mingle. Other drivers also park, littering the place with over 50 Toyota Land Cruiser GXR V6. Over 200 adventure seekers litter the desert dunes for beautiful photo shots, light refreshment and networking. Some even promise themselves not to enter the vehicle again immediately it stops for rest and photo session, but it is even more dreadful to walk on the dessert, an endless sand dune. There is a helicopter hovering around, to ensure visitors are given fast attention during emergency, which often occur during dune bashing ride.

“Arabian Adventures has the capacity of hosting from two to 5,000 guests per day on the desert dune bashing ride”, the driver says.

At this point, some passengers engage their calculators. Having paid $100, (about AED360) multiplying the amount with 5,000 visitors per day means a lot. But the experience is worth more the money because it also covers watching exciting Falcon Play, Carmel Ride and an ultimate desert safari Belly Dance show. But those experiences are for another day because of their spectacular excitement.

OBINNA EMELIKE