They call them “singing dunes”, dunes that sing, and if you turn off the engines of the 4×4 that takes you to the desert of Qatar, a few kilometers from the capital Doha and you remain silent you can really hear a song, which comes from afar.
Marco Polo in the thirteenth century described this natural phenomenon as the signal of the evil spirits of the desert. We now know that this is no longer the case, but not for long, actually.
The “singing dunes”
Only recently scholars have begun to understand how the “song of the desert dunes” is created, but physicists still have strong doubts.
In practice, the grains of sand slide in unison from the dunes, rolling against each other. Each clash of grains creates a small jolt. If millions of jolts occur altogether, under the right conditions, they can create a sound that can also be heard distinctly by the human ear.
At this point, the dunes act as if they were huge loudspeakers, spreading the sound in the air even kilometers away. The different sounds that each sand dune produces are the result of the size of the grains of sand that form it. Thus, the circumference of the desert grain of sand is also able to determine the frequency of the sound and the synchronized movement of the grains is what gives life to the song.
A phenomenon that is incredible and that only in a few other places in the world is it possible to experience, such as in Death Valley where there are the Eureka Dunes.
The best time to witness the “singing dunes” phenomenon is on windy days. If you take a holiday in Qatar, therefore, keep an eye on the weather and organize the excursion when it is windy. If the wind blows very strongly, you will hear someone whistling from a distance, making the experience even more mysterious.
A unique sunset in the world
Being in the desert dunes at sunset is the best time of day to visit it. You can observe the large ball of the sun, which fades from yellow to orange and red, slowly descending behind the dunes. One of the best spots to watch the sunset in the Qatari desert is near the Inland Sea, Khor Al Adaid, a Unesco site.
You can suddenly see it among the very high dunes of the white desert and it is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of Qatar. It is the largest nature reserve in Qatar, formed by a series of lagoons and brackish marshes between the desert dunes, one of the few places in the world where the sea creeps deep into the heart of the desert.
Inaccessible from the road, this peaceful stretch of water can only be reached by crossing the high sand dunes. The Inland Sea is close to the Persian Gulf and, on fine days, you can even see the Dubai skyline. Being close to the sea, with a little luck you can spot turtles, flamingos, and dugongs, as well as Arabian oryx and camels, the classic desert fauna.
Natural roller coaster
One of the most incredible experiences to do in the dunes of the Qatar desert is to drive a 4×4 on the dunes, especially in the Inland Sea area, where they are very high and very steep. We do not recommend driving the car independently, but relying on expert drivers who organize this type of excursion.
The jeep travels to the top of the dune, poised between one overhang and the other, and already there, it feels like goosebumps. Then suddenly it drifts and bends at 45° (if not more) and at full speed it runs along the side of the dune, with the passengers who, with their belts fastened and their hands firmly on the handles, let themselves be thrown and try not to overbalance so as not to overturn. the car just as happens when the roller coaster of the amusement park twists.
And, finally, the jeep stops on the top of the milk-white dune to prepare the passenger for the thrill that is about to arrive: at this point, the driver points to the hood of the car and stalls, and lets himself slide faster and faster. attracted by the force of gravity: at this point, the slope of the dune is at least 70°.
If you have experienced the thrill of a roller coaster in amusement parks, between jolts, speeds, folds, steep climbs, and thrilling descents, the dunes of the Qatar desert offer the same kind of sensation.
There are also those who love sandboarding by sliding with a board down from the top of the very high dunes until you stop naturally. Surely you are tossed less than the passenger compartment of the jeep. They say it’s a lot of fun, but you have to take into account the fact that, after the descent, there is also the ascent, to return to the starting point and slide across the dunes again. Under the scorching desert sun, it is not necessarily always a good idea. Or you can go to the desert on a camel’s back, aboard a quad, dune buggy, or an All-terrain vehicle (Atv). Whatever means you decide to use, an excursion to this desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.