8. Hitting the dunes
“Hi, we’re a Dutch couple looking for a guide to take us into the Lut for some serious off-roading. Not just driving and camping, but serious off-road tracks.” This was the message we’ve send to some guides. And we found one. Our biggest adventure so far was about to start.
After unwinding a few days in an Maymand ecolodge (where we slept in caves, brought home 2000(!) sheeps from the land and ate (sheep) with the locals) we were ready for the desert. Monday morning 08:00 AM: we gather at a hotel in Mahan. It’s a funny feeling, we‘re about to go on a 5 day holiday with people we’ve never met. The group is already there: Ali (the tourguide) his wife Arezoo, Souma, Paymen, Asoumi, Bigi and Mahan. All in/around their 30s, and based on some of their clothes it looks like they walked straight from the Burning Man festival. This promises to be a good week.
Like mountains can be overwhelming with their enormous heights (we experienced this in Albania), the desert can be overwhelming with landscapes where you literally see nothing but flat sand 360 degrees and you loose all your orientation. We drive with 4 Toyota’s in a line, heading towards the dunes.
Ali’s enthusiasm about the desert and its high dunes makes us curious for what is about to come. When we stop for a lunch we can see the dunes in the distance. High sandy hills, stretching as far as the eyes can see. When we reach the dune area, we’re already sold. Everywhere around us nothing but high dunes, curving the sandy landscape combined with a nice winter sun. But the dunes are not easy. The sand is soft and Troopy is heavy. Where the other cars flow over the dunes, it’s clear that we are not only carrying our car, but also all our belongings. Many times our Troopy get’s stuck in the sand and we have to maneuver a way out of it. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s frustrating.
The good thing is that we’re with a group of professional dune drivers. They guide us, learn us how to catch a steep hill, how to come off a steep hill safely, what route we can take to not get stuck, etcetera. After a few hours, we already notice that the sand get’s less challenging, we can follow the group more easily and enjoy the dunes. Our smiles cannot be bigger while driving from a high dune, our favorite DJ track in the background and enjoying crazy dune views. At sunset, we make a camp. This group is clearly experienced in desert camping. Like “Douwe Dabbert’s knapzak” they get an enormous amount of camp stuff ( even virtual reality glasses ( a VR tour in the middle of the desert?!) ) out of their cars, and within 20 minutes we have a camp spot to dream of. Often we look to each other: is this really happening? The group, the dunes, the camp nights; we could not imagine that it would be this fun.
The week continuous and we get better and better in dune driving. But unfortunately, the dunes seem too much for Troopy, especially because of its weight. It’s more and more difficult to get to the dune tops, and on Thursday the clutch breaks down 😦 No more driving for Troopy. At first, with the other 3 cars we try to get Troopy out of the dunes. But it’s too much weight, the sand is too soft and the dunes too high. After a few hours of trying we stop and decide that we have to leave Troopy in the desert to get a mechanic and a new clutch. Being our car and our home, this is not the best news for us. But the group knows how to cheer us up (these guys just know how to make fun, no matter what happens). We enjoy the last camp night with them, and drive out of the desert together in the 3 cars on Friday. Leaving Troopy behind.