Abu Dhabi: The initial 20 minutes of driving was what we are all so familiar with …highways, horns, buildings, and drivers who seem in a rush to get somewhere fast.
But, a sudden change of scenery and lack of man-made machines was a welcoming sight as we began a journey into orange coloured territory of sand and bushes. Soon enough, the terrain further changed into what one would expect in a dune bashing journey — lots of sand dunes.
A desert safari with dune bashing is one of the attractions that make the UAE a stop for thrill-seeking world travellers.
This outdoor activity enthralls locals and foreigners alike.
The UAE offers some of the world's most exciting safari adventures, featuring sensational landscapes, and one of the world's most picturesque wonders of oasis and deserts in the Rub Al Khali region.
Dune bashing, driving up and down rollercoaster dunes provided the Fun Drive participants with a superior adrenaline rush to those seeking adventure, and a captivating experience irrespective of nationality, background, social status or gender.
Participants also had the option of driving their cars or renting 4x4s with or without drivers.
Many people are veterans. But for most, this is the experience of a lifetime.
Despite living in the UAE for 15 years, Javed Bharde joined the Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive for the first time.
"We thought, let's try something adventurous, so we have come over here to explore the sand," novice driver Bharde, who came with his wife and kids, said.
"It's been a great experience. We are learning new things over here such as how to have patience and how to drive in the desert."
Bharde said this time he was able to give some justice to his ever-reliable companion — his car. "Normally, we drive our four-wheel car only to the office. Now we're using the four-wheel in the right way," he said.
"I had little appreciation of the skills required to navigate through uncharted sand mounds. A few hours in the desert and all dunes begin to look alike. It is very difficult to know east from west, where we came from and which direction to go," said May, a first time participant.
For Emirati Gaith Al Falasi, offroading is something he has been doing for a long time. In the Gulf News Fun Drive, he joined right away when he received his licence — something he and his father had done together many times before, but dad then was the only driver.
After the day-long drive, people gathered at the campsite for dinner and entertainment looking forward to watching a belly dancer and having a sumptuous dinner.