Fun & Weird
There’s a First Time for Everything
I’m pretty adventurous, but I never dreamed I’d be “dune bashing” in the middle of a desert, nor that my first time riding English would be on an Arabian across the dunes. But one of the many things I loved about my 3 night stay at Al Maha were the interesting complimentary desert activities.
“Dune Bashing”, officially called a Desert Drive is “a more extreme 4×4 drive in the dunes” at 8AM. They encourage you to skip breakfast beforehand just in case. I get terrible motion sickness, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a possible sideways drive across the sand.
They take you outside of the resort/game reserve boundaries, which is where the fun begins. Starting the small dunes, the lead hotel car carves a path in and around with all the others following closely behind.
Then we got to the big dunes where you can apparently really have some fun.
It was fun, and the views were breathtaking, especially at the stopping point.
I hiked up the top of the dune behind us which had even more breathtaking scenery.
And while we were stopped we observed the slightly more reckless antics of other individuals.
Before going I had taken dramamine an hour in advance and was wearing motion sickness bracelets. None of the car movements felt particularly bad, but by the time we got back to the resort I was feeling a little queasy. Totally worth it though!
Horseback riding was another activity that really caught my interest. All the descriptions advised it was only for experienced riders, so I talked to the field guides before signing up. I grew up riding western, this stable was english. The field guide offered to put me on their calmest horse and we could go from there. I chickened out after reading others reviews of how spirited the horses were, but rebooked for my final morning.
At 6:30 another guest and I were driven out to the stable. I was put on my horse and since I didn’t know what length my stirrups should be when riding English, was declared good to go by the groom. I certainly felt comfortable on the horse, but it got a little ugly (for anyone watching me) the first few times we trotted and I realized posting in a western saddle was far different.
Despite trouble finding my seat and having to learn the opposite of neck reining, it was an amazing experience. The scenery was gorgeous, the morning was cool and there were even hot air balloons rising in the distance. And I was riding an Arabian across the sands!
The best part was the horses. These are not your typical nose-to-tail trail ride beasts, they all hand minds of their own and were clearly eager to run (we didn’t). So while I heartily recommend signing up for the riding if you can, steer clear unless you have at least several years experience.
More from this trip
Etihad First Class Checkin & the New Etihad Lounge at JFK
Flying in the First Apartment on the Inaugural Etihad A380 JFK to Abu Dhabi
Thanksgiving Dinner 40,000 Feet Above the Atlantic
First Impressions of Dubai in Pictures
Sunset Camel Treks & Champagne Toasts
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