Honestly don’t do this. It’s f*cking horrible.
For those who have never spent any time in the Middle East in August let me paint a picture for you. It’s fabulous. The sun shines high in the sky for 15 hours of the day, burning the life out of any living thing it can get it’s rays into, from the comfort of air conditioning we gaze out at the scorching sun and thank our lucky stars we are inside.
On the odd occasion that there is a need to be outside the air conditioning we run like idiots for our cars, firing up the engines and collapsing in the drivers seat while the AC cools itself down to a manageable temperature. You touch nothing outside, it will burn you. You accept the ridiculous amount of sweat pouring down your back as being quite normal by drinking 10,000 liters of water a day, which inevitably leads to multiple loo trips which generally means navigating some sort of public Ebola hazard as no doubt a gentleman before you has liberally sprayed the cubicle with all manner of bodily fluids….I digress, summer is very hot, so generally we stay inside. Simple. Picture painted.
This year (2019) Lexi and the boys went to the U.K. for a week in August to catch up with family, having just been away on holiday real life caught up with me and I stayed in Doha for a week. This left me alone for a weekend at a time of year when no one is Doha, I will do my best to refrain from using the word literally too often but Doha is Literally empty.
So I started hatching a plan for a solo desert camping mission, something only an imbecile would plan in August. It’s just too hot, but I am intrigued by that kind of thing, like being told not to touch a plate by a waiter. I had to go and see how hot it really is.
After moving house it was also a good chance for me to get my camping equipment store sorted out, freshen up my various supply boxes and get in the frame of mind for a mini adventure. Laying out everything I want to take with me is something I find hugely helpful, as it means when I forget something (See Camping Packing list Blog) I can’t really blame anyone else. Forgetting things is pretty normal, I am just getting better at not forgetting the important things.
Off I set pointed West in search of a magnificent sunset and a westerly Breeze hopefully providing some respite from the relentless heat. As I crossed Qatar laterally heading for Zekreet the temperature gently rose to a heady 45 degs on the car thermometer. I pushed on.
Airing down at Zekreet mainly to try and smooth out some of the bastard corrugations that the Dukhan Peninsula is famed for I realized sweating was going to be a theme of this trip, but I was determined to both enjoy a good sunset and to test my new drone.
The landscape on the western side of Qatar is extraordinary. No where I have ever been does it feel more like a mad Science Fiction set in the world. The lunar landscape is jaw droppingly beautiful at sunset, and worth a visit to anyone who lives in Qatar. Just don’t go in August.
Yes I was all alone, and the solitude that provided was magnificent, but the punishing heat was relentless and brutal, as the sun started setting I had a decision to make. Bail out and head for home, or stick it out in the hope it cooled off as the sun set – I stuck it out.
Setting up camp was relatively simple, when you are on your own a table, chair and a camp bed is all it really takes. So before long I was playing with my new DJI Spark Drone and watching the sun drop below the horizon. The sun sets quickly in the Middle East and the batteries on my drone ran out equally quickly, so I was left with only a cool box of beers and the prospect of knocking up a Chicken Curry from scratch to keep me busy. Despite a nice breeze from the West I just couldn’t cool down, so ended up stripped to my under crackers cooking curry and staying lightly refreshed from my cool box.
At about 10pm I turned to the camp bed to get some sleep, I knew the sun would be up early and despite shading myself beneath a cliff from the rising sun, once up it would start cooking me fast so I had to get some rest. What I had not realised, not taken into account at all, not even considered was the amount of Dew that would come down over night. As I lay under the stars with only a thin Kakooi to cover me I was suddenly dripping wet. The combination of beer, tiredness and inexperience meant I was completely confused, how could I possibly still be this hot?
My pillow soaked through, I kept ‘sweating’ through blankets, T shirts and as the night wore on I became more tired and made a promise to myself never to camp when it is this hot ever again. Morning eventually came and with it a realisation of my idiocy – I hadn’t been sweating at all. Everything was soaked with a heavy dew all I would have needed is a tarpaulin above me to protect me from the majority of it, and I would almost certainly have had an excellent nights sleep…we live and learn!
After a quick coffee at camp I set off for the beach to have a morning swim before it got too hot, a stunning isolated beach (that probably has a permanent camp during camping season) allowed me a very isolated dip in the sea before I began the trek home via the incredible East West Sculpture by Richard Serra. There is a well trodden route guided neatly by Google Maps to the sculpture, so it is a popular Tourist Attraction. Sadly some mindless bellends have decided to graffiti the almost spiritual installation, which is as depressing as it is annoying for anyone who makes the trip.
The track leading home takes you on a bouncy, bumpy, corrugated vehicle killing route to one of my favourite landmarks in Doha – Camel Crossing 7. For anyone taking this route the salt flats 400m to the east of Google Maps track allow a softer easier 60Kmh+ route to the crossing.
I can’t wait to solo desert camping again, I’m always searching for the wildest parts of Qatar, I just won’t do it in August. I recommend you don’t either!