One of the most interesting and inaccessible attractions is the Inland Sea of Qatar. This territory is a UNESCO-protected reserve, and can only be reached by special 4×4 vehicles. In this article, you will learn about this location in detail, where to find tours, and what challenges to expect.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites
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The Inland Sea of Qatar: general information
The Inland Sea of Qatar, also known as Khor Al Adaid, is a natural reserve that is protected by the state and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This shallow and salty lake is approximately 12 by 15 km in size. It is salty because it is fed by the waters of the Persian Gulf through a narrow channel.
There are no roads or any buildings allowed here, only desert, dunes, and water.
Interesting fact:Khor Al Adaid is home to Arabian oryx (the symbol of Qatar) and a large number of birds, including migratory birds such as flamingos. It is also home to one of the rarest species of pelicans.
- When communicating with locals, use the term “Inland Sea” instead of Khor Al Adaid.
- The Inland Sea is located 60 km south of Doha, on the border with Saudi Arabia.
- There is no specific point where tourists are taken, only a long coastline. However, for convenience, there are always many tours and tourists here: 24.57370509296725, 51.338107194624875.
Important:There are no roads to get here, only special 4×4 vehicles with special tires can make it through. Even if you rent a 4×4 vehicle, you still won’t make it. You can drive to all other tourist attractions in the country with a 4×4, but not here. For tips on renting a car with driver’s license, and for other advice and intricacies, check out our article on car rental in Qatar.
Safari Tour: dunes, sandboarding, camels, Inland Sea
The only way to reach Inland Sea of Qatar is through local tour agencies. Here’s what you need to know:
- Always book tours in advance, at least a couple of days beforehand. You won’t find them anywhere on the spot. Nobody on the streets approaches tourists with sea trips, safari tours, and so on. This business operates entirely online.
- The Inland Sea tour is usually called something like Safari, Safari Tour, Jeep Safari, Dune Safari. Well, you get the idea, the name should have the word Safari.
Important to know:Always check the tour program to see what’s included. There’s complete chaos and confusion here. I’ll write the ideal program and timing that should be there.
Usually, the whole Safari Jeep tour to Qatar’s Inland Sea lasts 4-5 hours.
- They pick you up from your hotel in Doha. Surprisingly, transfers from hotels in Qatar are almost always available and included in all programs. This is their service here. Someone might say it’s cool, but there’re several cons, which I’ll write about in the “Tips and Pitfalls” section.
- It takes about an hour to get to Sealine Beach (marked on the map above). This is where all the main action begins.
- For about 15-30 minutes, there’s camel riding and a photo session. Here’s the point where tourists meet the camels (24.859206122830983, 51.5101279394733), and there’s a huge campsite there. You can also come here by yourself in a regular car and pay to ride the dunes on a camel. Those who are on the excursion, of course, ride for free, but it’s not much 🙂
Good to know:There’s usually very little time allotted for this activity, and they only ride for about 3 minutes so they can take a couple of photos. If you want to ride properly, come to this point separately on your own.
- Sealine Beach is the farthest point accessible by road. Here, the asphalt ends and the real desert with sand dunes begins.
- For the next hour and a half, you’ll be driving along the Persian Gulf coastline and through the dunes, covering a distance of about 30 km from Sealine Beach to Inland Sea.
- The ride can be both smooth along the shore and bumpy through the dunes. There’s a stop at the highest dune for taking pictures.
- Many tour packages include sandboarding, where you can slide down the dune on a snowboard-like board. It’s cool but requires some skill. First of all, you can’t pick up much speed, and secondly, you need to know how to ride a snowboard, which I don’t. The most exciting part is that you get a rope tied to a jeep that pulls you down the dune if you can’t do it yourself.
- The final stage of the program is when you reach the edge of the desert and come to the Inland Sea of Qatar. You’ll have half an hour to walk around and take photos. It’s ideal to come during sunset, but it’s difficult to arrange. If it’s a full-day tour, they usually organize a barbecue and set up a table for the tourists.
Good to know:All half-day tours to Inland Sea do not include food. Only water is included in the price, and there’s not enough time to eat anyway.
Finally, everyone is driven back to Doha without any stops and dropped off at their hotels.
Where to buy and prices for tours to the Inland Sea
As for where to buy, you can decide for yourself, but I can give you a website that lists all of the Qatari tour operators, where you’ll find the largest selection of safari tours. There are also plenty of excursions to other attractions in Qatar:
- Viator – the largest selection of tours in Qatar and Doha.
- GetYourGuide – another excellent tour resource for Qatar.
- Here’s a helpful article about Qatar’s tours and excursions, which ones are worth your attention, what you can do on your own, and what to skip.
How much does the excursion to the Inland Sea of Qatar cost?The standard price for a 4-5 hour safari tour is always $80-100 per person. For a full day with a barbecue or just snacks, the price is $150 and up.
Sealine Beach: where the dunes meet the Inland Sea of Qatar
Let me share my thoughts and impressions about the excursion, and the Sealine Beach will be an important part of it all. Here are the coordinates on the map: 24.851511554071788, 51.509995200756656
Starting with some general information:
- Sealine is a classic beach with sand, umbrellas, and equipped places for relaxation. You can swim in the Persian Gulf here. The beach is free. On weekends, many locals come here with their families for a picnic.
- This is the southernmost point of Qatar that can be reached by regular passenger car. Beyond the beach, the road ends and the real desert with dunes begins.
- This is where all the jeeps leave the road and drive over the dunes to the Inland Sea.
Important:The Inland Sea itself doesn’t have a particularly wow factor. It’s just ordinary sand and dunes with a semi-arid lake. It’s not different from the dunes at Sealine. But it’s easier to get to Sealine, you don’t need to buy an excursion, and you can ride camels right there.
For me, the trip to Khor Al Adaid was the highlight of my visit, with camels, dunes, jeep safaris, sandboarding, and a visit to the Inland Sea, although the latter was not particularly memorable.
So if you’re only going for Khor Al Adaid, the excursion may disappoint. It’s a three-hour trip with several stops, 20 minutes of walking along the water’s edge, and then back. But if you’re interested in all the activities, the tour is a must-do!
Tips and pitfalls:
The best time to visit the Inland Sea is at sunset. The soft light makes the dunes look beautiful, and the photos turn out great. But here’s the biggest pitfall:
- Most tour agencies have tours twice a day, starting from Doha at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s the same vehicle that picks up tourists in the morning, takes them to the Inland Sea, and then does a second round after 3 p.m.
Good to know:The locals don’t work here; they all hold managerial positions. Your driver will be an ordinary migrant from Pakistan or India, and punctuality is not their strong suit 🙂 Don’t worry about your safety, even if you’re a solo female traveler; everything will be fine. Follow the link to read about tourist safety in Qatar, what women should wear, and more.
A huge downside is that they gather all the tour guests around the city, and the guests themselves can be quite a handful. They took a wrong turn, were 10 minutes late, their cat was giving birth, they didn’t finish their hummus, didn’t have time to pray, and a hundred other reasons. As a result, I can’t recall a single time when such a tour started on time. Being an hour or two late is normal.
- Here’s a helpful article about time in Qatar: I’ll not only talk about the time zone, but also the opening hours of various establishments, the metro which starts operating at 2 pm, and the punctuality of the locals.
Important note:Keep in mind that tours which are scheduled to start at 3 pm so that you can make it to the Inland sea of Qatar by sunset, often begin with a delay of 1-2 hours. By the time you get to the inland sea, it’ll be dark. Though you can gaze at the stars 🙂 My advice is to always take the morning tour, no matter how much you want to visit at sunset.
- Check out the awesome list of all the attractions in Qatar: map, prices, operating hours, personal tips for visiting.
In conclusion, to be honest, the Inland Sea of Qatar isn’t as amazing as the Qataris make it out to be, and the Sealine beach is pretty much the same. However, a safari tour on jeeps is a whole different story. It’s an amazing activity that most people will love. That’s what I recommend to everyone.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro