Today we went off on the Desert Safari that we had booked on Thursday. We were told that this was going to be a visit into the desert to a Bedouin village with some fun and games first with high powered motor vehicles in the desert. Sounded good to me!
We went down to the shop which had sold us the excursion and were picked up by a long wheelbase Land Rover Discovery which was driven by a small guy with a burnoose and traditional Arab headgear driving who didn’t speak much English. This turned out to be our tour driver for the day.
We first drove down the coast on the nice new, sand covered motorway past the Airport to a fenced area which had a large arched gateway with “Safari Land” emblazoned across it. This worried me a bit, because it looked pretty controlled and in a word, tame. We drove up to this building which looked like a Spanish fort from Mexico (I think it had originally been a themed restaurant) got out the Land Rover and noticed a group of about 20 quad bike riders going round in a circle, all with crash helmets and gloves, being trained in the use of the . Again my heart sank, as I had done something similar to this in Perthshire at the end of 2006 and although it was good fun then, without the tress and forest tracks I had been on in Perthshire I thought it would too controlled to get any fun in the fairly flat, featureless desert. However, our group of four were lead over to Spider buggies and asked if we wanted to try these first. So, me and Wendy in one K and dalg in another and away we went. We drove around following a guy on a Quad bike for 45 minutes and I absolutely loved it. It drove like a normal car but the gears were really loose, much like an old Ford Transit van gearbox (showing my age there). I kept trying to put it into 5th gear, which didn't exist and ended up in third. This caused the engine to roar and the buggy to take off like a bat out of hell. It was great. We were both well strapped in so no problems with us bouncing over the terrain. As we were behind dalg and K and the quad bike guide I also dropped back a couple of times so I could gun the engine and try and get some air between the buggies wheels and the ground. We didn't really manage to make it as I couldn’t get up enough speed for the low hummocks of the dunes to properly bump us up into the air and Wendy didn’t really like me trying it that much. I lost my cap about 30 minutes in, which blew off back onto the radiator behind and above us. So, I thought “No problem, I’ll just get it later”. Then about 35 minutes in, the damn engine just conked out on us; way, way out into the desert, it just lost power and we came to a stop. I suspect that it overheated due to my cap obscuring part of the radiator. I could not get it restarted and we had to sit and wait for five minutes or so until the guide on the quad bike noticed that we had stopped and came back to help us. He, of course, managed to start the buggy first time! Here are a couple of pictures of us at the start of the run.
Once we had returned to the building (Which was currently being used for a quad bike garage) we then got on a set of the Quad bikes and drove around for another 45 minutes. Although Wendy did not come with us as she does not have a driving licence and was a bit worried about what could possibly happen. I think that the Spider Buggies have the edge on the Quad bikes for sheer excitement and sensation of danger. Could not really get the Quad bikes up to any speed due to the roughness of the ground, there was a real danger of being catapulted off the bike which was not there with the spider buggies. With being strapped in, you really felt like part of the machine with them.