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“A great experience, with some caveats”

Ranked #8 of 33 Tours in Doha
Attraction details
Perth, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
40 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“A great experience, with some caveats”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

I ended up doing several tours through Gulf Adventures, as I came on holiday and with a conference.

Professional booking experience, although be aware staff's english may not be perfect. be patient, they work well.

The afternoon desert safari was a pretty incredible experience (with just one other passenger, and with dinner at the desert camp). Yes, the camp is staffed by very friendly Nepalis, but that doesn't really detract from the experience. I loved the tea, and the opportunity to go wading in the sea. They honestly couldn't pay their Nepali staff enough - they helped make the trip a most memorable experience.

The driver was very professional driver in the dunes, although driving on the freeways was an eye-opening experience - no seatbelt, speeding, etc. He was happy to stop for photos, and gave us some heart-stopping moments in the dunes. We did leave early (before sunset), but I didn't particularly mind - I'd had a wonderful time. the opportunity to go wading / swimming in the gulf, on the edge of the desert was just amazing.

The trip with the conference was a morning safari, followed by a city tour. We took a different route in the desert, which took us close to the border of Saudi Arabia. It was a very different, more organised affair with some 15 4WDs. Again, great professionalism in the dunes, particularly in driving slightly less extravagantly on request of the ladies we had on board, although we again had an "interesting" trip back to Doha!

The city tour was ok, we were all packed on a big tour bus. The guide was fantastic, and very professional, but I was glad I'd seen the city beforehand. It is not possible to tour and explore Doha in 3-4 hours.

All in all, I will probably return to the desert with Gulf Adventures. Yes, you do take a bit of a risk, but the rewards were well n truly worth it. I had some unforgettable experiences in the desert, and will definitely return.

TIPS - Summer is hot, but the desert is quiet. Late June was pretty good - the vehicles are air conditioned, and you can survive in 49C heat for the short periods outside.

WEAR YOUR SEATBELT - even if your driver / passenger don't. Take a mobile phone (strong signal in desert), and an extra water bottle. Enjoy it.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank Mgraffin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Geneva, Switzerland
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“A mixed experience”
Reviewed May 27, 2013

Overall a very contrasted experience, alternating great things, more disappointing elements and one outright scary :

- On the upside :
+ Very friendly and very efficient booking service;
+ Flexible and trust-based payment process;
+ Reliable on-time pick-up and return;
+ Very comfortable high-level 4x4 SUV : top class !
+ The beautiful desert itself... Amazing, as always...
+ The skilled driver who knew how to have fun driving the dunes;
+ The long swimming opportunity at the beachside;

- On the disappointing side :
+ We had to ask the driver to stop (and he obligingly did) at all photogenic places . He never proposed any of it; he was very friendly but obviously bored with it all and it showed;
+ Conversely, the one and only "Photo opportunity" stop was clearly only driven by the afternoon prayer time, as there was nothing particular to look at when we stopped and while the driver prayed. I respect this, but there is no need to try and disguise this into what it isn't;
+ The advertisement featured the much-vaunted "Inland Sea" but we could catch only a brief glimpse of it from afar - and I'm not even sure that it wasn't just the Gulf Sea, despite the driver's reassurances;
+ The "Beduin camp" is a bad joke : populated by Nepalese guest-workers, very friendly the poor blokes, but as Beduins as I am myself a Himalaya Sherpa !! I realize that nowadays Qataris have better use of their time but then let's admit to it rather than play pretence with South-Asian imported workforce : the whole thing was 1960s mass-tourism level and completely ridiculous;

- And now the really scary bit :
+ Whether he was anxious to get back before evening prayer time (it matched !) or just to go home or go out, our driver drove ABSOLUTELY RECKLESSLY on the way back : roaring at up to 160Km/h on the highway while SIMULTANEOUSLY texting / reading correspondance on 2 DIFFERENT smartphones, placing and receiving calls, meanwhile sometimes driving between 2 lanes, sometimes holding the wheel only with his knees as both hands were otherwise occupied...
+ Mind you, this is not a naive visitor's comment as I have been here for 6 months and am used to being driven around by, well, less-than-careful local drivers. But this got me REALLY SCARED and frankly it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, or worse. It is unacceptable.
+ I am not going to engage in "naming and blaming", but Gulf Adventures must urgently train and sensitivize their drivers to be reasonably careful and not do such things - and also they must systematically seek feedback from clients to learn whether this is being effective or not. In the worst case some personal decisions will have to be made before someone gets killed.

Visited May 2013
10 Thank DemandingGourmet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

the tour guide was fantastic!!!
excellent tour itinerary!!
great value!!
great price!!!.
on time!!!
great lunch!!!
it was a perfect day!!

Visited March 2013
1 Thank lizzyarizonapr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
292 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 242 helpful votes
“Shocking negative experience”
Reviewed December 28, 2012

We were picked up by the driver from our hotel and he introduced himself by mentioning his name. Not a word extra, not a welcome, not any explanation about the tour. We started driving but first the driver drove around in blocks around our hotel. Stopped at a gas station. Moved on and later stopped at another gas station. All the time again he did not say a word and we did not have a clue what was going on (it showed he needed gas – we found it strange that he had not prepared himself better). The non speaking attitude continued the whole tour. Not a word was said by the driver about what we are going to undertake, not a word with information about Qatar, not about the surroundings, the desert etc. Only when we asked we got a very short answer before he continued talking in his walkie talkie or in one of his various phones (who were ringing all the time and which he answered while driving). If he was not talking on the phone he turn on very loud music on the radio. As guests in the car we were not able to talk to each other. At two occasions (during stops) we turned the music lower but as soon as he re-started the car the volume was turned on again. At a certain moment we asked if the music (a kind of pop music with a hard boost) could be softer and if he had any other entertainment. Arabic pop music was then put on in more or less the same volume. The three hours in the car resulted in a headache and were no fun at all (despite the fact that the driving in the sand dunes was fun).
In the offer watching the sunset was promised. We arrived just before the sunset at Inland sea but left again just before the sunset in order to drive to the camp. If we had not asked ourselves to stop on our way we would have not been able to make some photo’s of the sunset. Very strange.
Due to the fact that nothing was explained also some misunderstanding arose. We left some of our belongings in the car understanding that the same driver would return us to Doha. One of the staff member said this was the case, one other said the opposite. It was also not clear what we exactly could do at the camp.
At 19.30 (while we were still having a relaxed time with the other guests at the camp site) we were asked to prepare for the return (we were surprised about this early timing but thought that the drive to Doha would take some hours). On the way back to Doha the same driver this time put on very loud Arabic speeches (which non of the guests did understand). We again had to ask if the sound could be lowered. This was done but again not understanding that this was totally not appreciated. At 20.30 we arrived at our hotel (one and a half hours before the tour should have been finished).
After the tour we complained in writing. The reaction was most shocking. The company had investigated the case and had found out that the driver had never stopped at a gas station and that we ourselves had asked to depart early from the camp. No apologize, nothing! We were flabbergasted how reality was turned up side down. In conclusion; the tour offered for 400 R. per person was a very disappointing experience and no value for money. We booked a tour but we only got a driver who was not at all adjusting to the wishes and needs of his guests. This company is not able to deal with complains and is very unreliable.

Visited December 2012
10 Thank JAEMH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naestved, Denmark
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Fun trip to the dessert with Shah!”
Reviewed February 20, 2012

Shah picked us up at the hotel and was in high spirits all day! He listened to our wishes and helped ensure that everyone had the perfect day of dune bashing! Shah was a terrific host, answering questions and teaching us phrases in Arabic along the way! After a couple of hours of dune bashing we were taken to the camp for some R and R - and a terrific BBQ in the dessert! One peice of advice - Bring LOTS of layers and more clothes than you'd expect - the dessert gets cold once the sun sets!

Visited February 2012
4 Thank Ann H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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