Full moon kayaking in Doha
We head out on the water in search of the great Qatari outdoors 1 Comments
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It’s a balmy beach evening. Around a bonfire a group of people learn to play African drums, the trance-like rhythms and laughter drifting far into the night air. Others soak in the warm moonlit waters of the Persian Gulf which shortly before engulfed the red sinking orb of the sun. Out at sea a few adventurous folk kayak – their neon bangles sway as the swish-swish sounds of their paddles glide through the water. And then: a flying fish breaks the surface of the water.
Who can ask for more? After living here for a while, the abnormal can so easily become the new normal – the long working hours, the suffocating heat, the crazy traffic, the crowded shopping centres, the eating out, the constant stress. What one’s body yearns for, is a break. A total break.
Fortunately there is no need to fly elsewhere, because for every weekend that falls closest to the full moon Steve Rhodes from Entalek Adventures now offers a night out in the Qatari nature.
‘We believe that people need a spiritual connection with the natural world,’ he explains. ‘We are passionate about the environment and sharing it with people.’
That’s why they find the most beautiful coastal spots and provide people with the opportunity to enjoy them stress-free. And provide they do: on the soft sand a few tents and carpets have been placed, drink and snack-laden tables are on standby and a row of barbeque fires leisurely create coals for the dining highlight later on. There’s even a discretely placed porta-loo further inland! Trips are organized through the mangroves, with camps set on the more off-the-beaten-track beaches, giving kayakers a chance to see a part of Qatar that’s far and away from the Doha streets.
Kayking is something most people can pick up fairly quickly, especially when done in the open kayaks offered by Rhodes. Although it can be tricky to learn to do it well, most people can pop in a boat and go. Being in a human-powered boat also gives you the opportunity to get up close with nature in a way you can’t when motors are involved. Participants in the past have spotted some of the 150 fish species in the Gulf and the 100 bird species like reef herons, terns, sandpipers and flamingos, and even the threatened Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.
In addition to kayaking, participants can also learn traditional African drumming: before dinner, Patrick, the South African teaching West African drumming, must finish the laughter-invoking lesson with the 30-odd novice players. All of whom are learning that drumming is hard on the hands. The kayakers arrive (‘it was fantastic out there!’) and we settle down on the carpets around the fires - a truly mellow way to make food, and new friends.
Due to popular demand, Patrick wows the crowd with yet another drumming session, others head back into the kayaks and onto the water, over which the moon is now shimmering. We are from all over the world, and a group came specially to celebrate a few birthdays, thus the drumming master teaches us to play a Ghanaian “happy birthday” (the ‘Nana’ praise song in the Gha language).
‘I started kayaking in Qatar seven years ago because it was too hot to do anything else except get on to the water,’ says Steve, as a flock of black cormorants fly over in a V-formation. ‘When I paddled under the moonlight, I dreamed of having other people sharing the experience with me and now it is happening. I love it!’
It is only in the early morning hours that we finally find a place for our heads, on one of the carpets. The children and some other people have long gone to tents, or found a comfortable, quiet spot to dream under the stars to the sounds of the lapping water. For some already their second night out as they came on Thursday evening to really make a weekend of it.
Sunrise is magical, even though a few extra hours of sleep are needed by the late-nighters. But a quick dive into the water takes care of the Sandman, and soon most people are kayaking, fishing, snorkeling at the small coral reefs or lounging in the water. Depending on the outing, yoga lessons are also on hand to help ease any remaining tension.
‘Everyone always thanks me and comments how these type of experiences are missing in Qatar,’ adds Steve as he explains that Entalek’s main focus is taking people out through the Qatari mangroves any time of the month. The company also aims to develop experiential education opportunities for the Qatari youth so they can grow to love the incredible natural environment. ‘This makes me feel it is all worth it, especially when I see children dance around the campfire to the beat of drums. I’m simply glad that my children will also have these memories.’
The price of the full moon night out includes the equipment, trained guides, food, soft drinks and drumming/yoga lessons. See www.facebook.com/entalek for more information, call 3311 6249 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to Entalek’s weekly newsletter with all their events.
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