Unlike UAE and Oman, Qatar does not have mountain areas that can provide wonderful opportunities for camping. Yet, camping is a popular option for weekend breakers in Qatar. Camping gives you the chance to explore new places, to explore and assess the quality of friendship (if you want to know the quality of friendship and the true characteristic of your friends, ask them to join in travelling and camping!).
In Qatar, you’ll find many great camping spots are around beaches such as: Fuwairit beach (including area near Al Ghariya), Zikreet beach (and Ras Abrouq), Inland Sea, though you can opt to set up a tent in the middle of desert. Camping around the beach is preferred as you have alternative for activities i.e. fishing, swimming, snorkeling(?), you have a source of water, and of course sea view.
When I say camping, I’m not talking about big Arabic tent with generators such that you can temporarily install air conditioning units. A big no no for me. That’s not the true camping for me.
What to prepare for camping? The following is an unedited camping guide that I copy and paste from Qatar Natural and History Group (http://www.qnhg.org/Rambles/Camping_Guide).
Sleeping: We recommend you bring a tent and sleeping bags or blankets. Self inflating mattresses or sleeping pads will make it more comfortable; same for pillows (or you can fold some of your clothing to make a pillow). A groundsheet is nice to put under your tent for extra protection. The standard nickel plated tent pegs or aluminum that come with most of the tents these days are good for soil only and useless in rocky or sandy ground. In soft sand, long rebar pegs can be useful. If desired, rock pegs can be found in several shops in the old souk, but are of a larger diameter then needed for the typical tents we all have (they are made for the large canvas tents used by the locals; 12-mm and larger rebar). If you can find some 6-mm or 9-mm rebar cutoffs (300-mm lengths) in a local construction site, they would be more useful, but remember to bring a heavy hammer to drive them into the ground (or precut and preshape them at home with loops on the end, or a 120º bend at the top 5 cm). Bring thin nylon rope or twine to tie your tent to these pegs (if they are too big to fit the loops of your tent tie-downs; better to check these dimensions at home to avoid any surprises onsite), and possibly to a local tree or handle of your nearby car for stability. We tend to put our bags and things into the tent (which is a typical simple self-supporting tent) to provide ballast and not bother with the pegs, which does fine as long as a strong wind doesn’t come up. To each their own; prepare to your own comfort level!
Food/ Cooking: Plan your meals/snacks according to what you have to prepare it with: stove, cookware, etc. Keep it as simple as possible. Sandwiches are fast and easy. Disposable BBQ units available at Carrefour or charcoal and a grill are other good choices. LPG cookers can be bought in a number of varieties; some use re-fillable tanks, others are single use. If planning to buy a re-fillable version, remember to find out where to get it filled before coming.
Precooked meals, salads, tomatoes, carrots or celery sticks are great. Fruit or fruit bars, crackers, cheese, chips, nuts, dates, etc.. If you have items that need to be kept cool then you will need some form of cooler with frozen icepacks or ice (ice too can be a bit more difficult to find in Doha, but is available). It’s nice to eat off the ground, so camping chairs (table as you wish) will add to your personal comfort (we do not recommend sitting on the ground at night). Don’t forget your firelighter blocks, BBQ starter fluid, lighter or matches as appropriate. Cheap kettles are available in the souk for boiling water. Cooking implements are handy, but stick to the basics.
Water: Very important! Bring a minimum of 1.5 L water/person/day. Add some pop or soda to provide glucose. 10-L and larger plastic water jugs are available in the souk, and are great for drinking and wash-up water.
Protection: The sun is already hot and you will be exposed for many hours. Bring sunscreen, hat, sunglasses. Loose tops with long sleeves offer great sun protection.
Night Visibility: Bring a flashlight, rechargeable camping light, or LED headlamps – the latter are nice to keep your hands free for other functions. If you have a gas lantern, bring it, but we wouldn’t recommend running out to buy one unless you plan to do frequent camping.
First Aid kit: In addition to the basics, remember your own medications, contact lens care, etc..
Bathrooms: There will be no public bathrooms or running water, so bring toilet paper or wet wipes and the means of proper disposal (maybe a small shovel to dig a hole – paper only please).
Clothing: Midday Heat: Light loose cotton or natural material is best for sunny days. Long sleeves, long pants provide easy protection when the sun gets hot. The sun burns and you may not feel it as easily with a breeze.
In winter it gets cold at night. Carrefour sells inexpensive fleecy blankets that are handy to line your lighter-weight sleeping bags with. Bring sweaters, hats, or whatever will keep you warm at these temperatures, as it can be damp at night.
Footwear: We recommend closed shoes. Sometimes you do not see the threatened desert creature that attacks out of self-defence. If someone gets hurt, it will spoil the experience. A little common sense and prevention can go a long way. Bring walking shoes if you plan to roam outside the camp site.
Campfire: There may be a bit of dried shrubs, but not enough for a campfire. Do your bit to conserve Qatar’s fragile biomass and not touch the local vegetation. Everyone should bring a bit of wood to add to a communal fire (non-painted, non-laminated please). Again, visit the local construction sites, remembering that hard wood will burn longer.
Garbage: Bring empty grocery bags to take your personal garbage back home. Leave the desert as you found it or cleaner
Final Notes: Carrefour has a decent selection of camping gear, as does The Giant store in the Hyatt Plaza. Some interesting gear, most of which has been imported from Saudi, can be found in the hunting shops in the old Souk.
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