My first experience of camping years ago was in a tent with no in-built groundsheet. We slept wrapped in blankets and woke in the morning to find the inside of the tent covered in a horrifying number of creepy crawlies. Fortunately, over the years camping has become more and more sophisticated. Tents now come in all shapes and sizes, and mercifully with in-built groundsheets and insect screens. However, what do you do if you want to go camping, but you’re still not ready to sacrifice the creature comforts of home? Try “glamping” of course.
Luxury Camping in the Desert
by Gillian Gibson
Glamping—a blend of the words glamorous and camping—is a relatively new concept. “Glampers” are provided with the option to camp, but without forgoing any of life’s little luxuries. They can relax in tents, tepees, yurts, huts, cabins and treehouses, many adorned with some of camping’s less traditional amenities like double beds, carpeted floors and Nespresso machines. Glamping offers access to the great outdoors while treating guests to a host of useful facilities such as electricity, toilets, showers, air-conditioning and heating. Many glamp-sites also offer hot, cooked food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as entertainment and activity options.
In Qatar, 365 Adventures and Regency Sealine Camp offer overnight glamping packages, where glampers stay in an Arabian-style, modern resort by the ocean. Accommodation is in large Bedouin-style tents, each with a sturdy wooden door, Persian carpets, and Arabian-style wall drapes. Rooms are furnished with king-sized and single beds, dressers and bedside tables. En-suite bathroom facilities are provided for each tent, along with bathrobes, slippers, toiletries and towels. Rooms also have electric lighting, mini refrigerators, air conditioning and heating. Alongside the accommodation, communal areas for relaxing, eating and socialising are provided, such as carpeted lounge areas with comfy sofas, cabanas by the sea and a majlis round an open firepit. Kids are well-catered for with playground facilities, football and volleyball nets, sandboards and video gaming to keep them thoroughly entertained. Some tour companies provide pick up and drop off in Doha, camel riding, falcon handling and dune bashing, and stop-offs at scenic locations for photo opportunities.
If you are considering taking a trip into the desert and would like to try an organised glamping experience, check out the following information on trips and tours available in Qatar.
Tour companies generally provide pick up and drop off services within Doha city limits and can take up to five passengers per vehicle. Pick up and drop off points can be arranged when booking. Pick up is usually around 2pm and drop off around noon the next day. Arrival at the camp, after desert activities and sightseeing, is around 4–5pm.
Packages vary per company, but camel riding, falcon handling and dune bashing are often included in the package price for overnight luxury stays. Additional activities at the camp, such as football, volleyball and sandboarding are also typically complimentary.
Children aged four to six years can join in the various activities but must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Pregnant women are also advised not to undertake the more strenuous activities on offer. Dune bashing can be tailored to suit the occupants on-board, a gentle drive can be requested.
Rooms are provided with both a king-sized bed and two single beds. An additional roll-away bed or baby cot can be provided on request. The maximum number of occupants per tent is five.
In addition to the air conditioning, heating, plug sockets and lighting provided in each tent, you can also enjoy TV and free internet access.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available at the camp. Overnight luxury camping packages include a BBQ buffet and a continental breakfast. Water, soft drinks, tea and coffee are complimentary.
The cost of an overnight glamping trip varies depending on the tour operator, the type of package you chose, whether the trip is taken during the week or at the weekend, and the number of people in your party. In general, the bigger the party number, the lower the overall cost per person. For a family of four the cost for one night, half-board camping with pick up and drop off and activities is upwards of QR 3,000.
Don’t Forget: While nearly all of your needs will be covered on a luxury overnight camp in the desert, you still want to pack the following: sunscreen, a hat, a camera, swimwear and a warm jumper for the evening.
Doha Family in the Desert
We caught up with one local mum, Chantal Govender, to talk about her family’s glamping encounter in Qatar.
Why did you choose to glamping over camping?
We wanted to camp in the desert, but we didn’t have all of the equipment for camping on our own, and with one of our kids being quite young (18 months), we thought it would be much more relaxing to go with an organised tour group. Since we didn’t need to take anything other than an overnight bag, and we didn’t need to worry about pitching a tent or cooking, we were able to relax and enjoy the experience with the kids.
What amenities and services were provided at your glamp-site?
The site we stayed on was great. Stepping into our tent was like walking into a hotel room. We had a huge double bed, beds for the kids (including a cot for the youngest), tea and coffee-making facilities, and an en-suite bathroom. The campsite was clean and spacious, and we were able to swim, relax under gazebos on the beach, and when we’d had enough of the beach the kids were able to watch a bit of TV in the room. It was a very relaxing experience, and for the first time camping, I slept like a baby.
We really enjoyed the food at the site. We had a BBQ buffet in the evening, which was a great option for the kids as there was plenty of choices. The option of eating at a private table was available, but we opted for eating around the firepit with all of the other campers. It was very sociable. We met another group of families with kids, which was perfect as the kids were all able to play together.
What additional activities were available for you to do on your trip?
We visited the Inland Sea, which was beautiful. We tried out camel riding, which was really good fun. And, though dune bashing was an option on the trip, we went for a gentle drive instead as dune bashing is not allowed with very young children. Likewise, my youngest wasn’t able to ride on the camels either, but it’s something we can try again when he’s older. My
eldest (12-years-old) was able to try all of the activities on offer.
What was your favourite aspect of the trip?
I enjoyed the whole trip. It was well-organised, the site and accommodation were clean and comfortable, and the food was good. However, I enjoyed the facilities the most. Sleeping on a bed, having a private bathroom, and modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, made the trip so much easier and more relaxing than it would have been camping on our own.
What did your kids enjoy most about glamping?
My eldest loved the camel riding and sand boarding. We were able to use sandboards at the site, and he had an absolute blast. There was a small play park on site that my youngest enjoyed, but having the sandboarding option for the eldest meant that he was entertained too.
Do you have any tips for families planning to try out glamping for the first time?
Glamping is a great way to see and experience the desert, especially the sky at night—it’s beautiful. You need to take very little as everything is provided for you. However, if you have kids, I would recommend taking a few snacks for in-between meals just in case they get a bit peckish.