April 2010 Rambles and Field Trips Season Overview

 A message from the Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator:

It's difficult to believe that the end of my first season as the Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator is coming to a close.    
 
It's been a busy season; since the middle of October we've hosted trips every weekend except for those over Christmas and New Years. I'd like to thank my co-coordinators Parag Parelkar and Bronwyn and Michael Donaldson as well as all the members of the QNHG Steering Committee. Without any of them the season would not have been anywhere near as fun or interesting. Especially, however, without Parag's support I don't know if I could have done this job. Also, not to forget, I'd like to thank all of our members and guests who have participated in our adventures. The looks of enjoyment on your faces have been priceless.
 
Although it's been a wonderful season, by no means has it been perfect; no such thing! It has, however, as always, been a learning experience. A few organizational lessons came along with a few scrapes and bruises. Part of what we've become aware of this year is the changing face of our membership. Within the last two seasons we have greatly increased in the diversity of our member's nationalities and experiential backgrounds. While this growing pool of complexity is a strength by any measure, it also brings with it a few new challenges, perhaps the most notable being the need to focus on the basic educational aspects of the QNHG. We need to make sure that all of our members and their guests know the fundamental principles of QNHG, especially how to interact appropriately in the landscapes when we travel off the beaten path, and how to effectively travel in groups. This is not only for the personal safety of participants, but also for the safety of the environment that we so enjoy, respect and wish to explore.

Even before this season is fully over, therefore, we've already begun giving thought to next season. Of course, there will be changes, but changes based on the lessons learned this year. We are not finished with this season quite yet however, in that we have three trips planned this month, as well as a great end of the season gathering in the works. We will also be meeting for out monthly lecture series at the DESS, so get out of doors as often as you can & look for your fellow QNHG members - we'll be around!


                                        ~ Exciting, fun & safe travels,
                                          John Tribuna
                                        QNHG Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator



April Overview - Details below

Friday 2nd: Ramble - S'maisma Beach Combing - east north east
Friday 9th: Ramble - Al Jassassiya Rock Carvings & Beach Trip - east north east
Saturday 17th: Ramble & Beach Pick-Up with the SustainableQatar et al - Al Khor Island - east north east


Friday, April 2nd: Ramble - S'maisma Beach Combing
east north east


Description:
    Well, it wasn't planned this way, but it looks like the last three rambles will focus on the east-north-eastern region of Qatar.
    First off, we'll start with an earlier morning walk along the beach just north of S'maisma, checking out the mangroves and seeing what's washed up with the tide, which could vary from sea turtles and sea snakes to simply trash - but we'll see what we find! There is also a wide variety of birds to check out, including those on migration, and a population flamingoes, so bring the binoculars and take a peak. I've even found dhubs not far inland, so the possibilities are just about endless!

What to Bring:
    As mentioned, bring a pair of binoculars, as we might not be able to get very close to any wild creatures that we may run across. As per usual, especially now that the sun's getting hot early in the day again, bring sun lotion, a hat, and water - lots of water - along with plenty of food. When we stop for lunch, we'll need to make our own shade, so take an umbrella or tarp along, too.
    Since we'll be wading along the shore not long after high tide, bring footwear that can get wet, but that also protects the feet.
    We will be in primitive conditions, so bring along any toiletries you may need. The facilities at your home will be the last ones we see before entering the desert.
    Any books on the flora, fauna or geology of this part of the world will come in handy, as well.
    
Other Preparations/Concerns:
    We won't be heading out into the desert or sabkha areas for this trip, but a four- wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. In any case, make sure your car is in good running condition. We will be going off onto dirt roads. There will be a chance to get into a four wheel drive vehicle, as per the usual drill, before we depart the rendezvous.
    Since we do expect to encounter wild creatures, if you bring your pets, you need to be able to keep them under control. This is not only for the wild creatures' safety, but for that of your beloved pet as well!
    A SPECIAL NOTE TO PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: Do not expect that your children will be allowed in vehicles without the required safety seating. It is a car owner’s prerogative as to who rides in their car, and the conditions under which this occurs. If you want to guarantee a seat for your child, you must bring your own vehicle.

Restrictions: Dogs, cats and pet giraffes welcome, as long as you keep them on a leash.
Date:      Friday, April 2nd 2010
Rendezvous & Times: S'maisma, 600 m from first roundabout (See directions below!)

Meet at:    7:30 AM
Depart at:    8:00 AM

Directions:

From Doha, drive up the Al Khor Road, 1A. The Simaisma/North Road exit is at the 23 kilometer mark, so be watching for the small green kilometer signs by the right side of the road and not your odometer.
 
Turn left at the end of the exit and go towards S'maisma (towards the water) until you get to the first roundabout, about 1.7 km down. At the roundabout, turn left and follow the paved road down about 600 m until it turns to dirt. Pull off to the left & that's the rendezvous - we'll organize there!

Price per Adult: Free
Price per Child (under 12 years old): Free
Organizer(s): John Tribuna, QNHG Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator – send texts to 605.6762; no calls during business hours, and none after 9:00 PM.

Friday, April 9th: Ramble - Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings & Beach Trip
east north east

Description:
    It's been a while since we've popped in to take a look at these rock carvings, so we'll head up the coast for a peak.
 
For a copy of the detailed hand-out on Al Jassasiya (or Al Jusasiyah) click here.  Copies will be made avialable at the meeting point for the trip.
    Traditionally once we've seen the carvings we've headed off to a conveniently located beach to spend the rest of the afternoon lazing there, but due to a new and large construction project, this may not be possible. I well be scouting out the situation and hopefully finding another beautiful beach where we can kick back and relax.  Updates will follow!

What to Bring:
    All the fixings for a day in the sun on the salty wet edge of a rather hot desert. Sun lotion, lot's of water, food, etc.  Shade, any shade you have or can create.
    As per norm, toilet facilities will be primitive to non-existent, so bring what you need.

Other Preparations/Concerns:
    Although the rock carvings themselves are easily accessible, those wishing to go to the beach may need a four wheel drive. I will scout out the possibilities and get back to you wit the details.
    Since we do expect to go to a public beach, if you bring your pets, you need to be able to keep them under control. Also, there is a possibility that pets will not be allowed at the beach we find, so plan accordingly.
    A SPECIAL NOTE TO PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: Do not expect that your children will be allowed in vehicles without the required safety seating. It is a car owner’s prerogative as to who rides in their car, and the conditions under which this occurs. If you want to guarantee a seat for your child, you must bring your own vehicle.

Restrictions: Four wheel drive vehicles for the beach trip, probably; watch for updates on pet restrictions.
Date:      Friday, April 9th 2010
Rendezvous & Times: Landmark Mall parking lot, in front of TGIF

Meet at:    8:00 AM
Depart at:    8:30 AM

Directions:

From Landmark Mall, we will head north on the Al Shamal Highway. The highway is under construction, so be careful - the road is twisty and rough - and people tend to drive way too fast for its conditions. Almost exactly 63 kilometers north, just 6.5 km past the Zubara exit, there is an exit on the right. Take it. Follow this around to the right. It will straighten out and head towards the coast and the back entrance to Ras Laffan, which will be well marked and on the right. Less than a kilometer past that entrance, on the opposite side of the road, there will be another intersection. turn left onto this well paved road; follow it around its twisty and turny path to the rock carvings.


Price per Adult: Free
Price per Child (under 12 years old): Free
Organizer(s): John Tribuna, QNHG Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator – send texts to 605.6762; no calls during business hours, and none after 9:00 PM.

Saturday 17th: Ramble & Beach Pick-Up with SustainableQatar et al -
Al Khor Island
east north east

Description:
       This looks like it may be the biggest trip, participant-wise, of the season, which is only appropriate for our end of season trip!
       In collaboration with a number of environmentally focussed organizations and student groups (SustainableQatar, Qatar Green Building Council, Qatar University and Education City), QNHG is organizing a trash pick-up of one of our most loved spots, Al Khor Island, also known as "Purple Island" due to its historic and ancient ties to purple dye production.
       This is a site that could really use some picking up, so we hope that there will be a great turn-out among our membership - let's face it, we'll need to show everyone else how stewardship is done!
       Although water and food will be provided by Al Rayyan and a few other companies (to be announced!), please register at the following website so that they will know how many participants to prepare for:
        (Link will soon be provided.) 
       More details on this trip will be posted as they come available.

What to Bring:
    As you know, the days are already getting warmer, so plenty of water and sunscreen. We will mostly be picking up trash, so I don't expect there to be many opportunities for checking out the wildlife, but you never know! Bring the requisite food, too, since picking up and hauling trash has a tendency to raise an appetite!
    To get out to the island, as you may remember, we need to wade across some breaks in the causeway, so bring footwear to protect your feet from the sharp shells and rocks found there!
    If you have work gloves, you may want to bring them; trash bags will be provided by the Al Haya Company, and trash pick-up will be provided by the Al Khor Municipal Authority.

    Just a reminder, there will be nothing but the most primitive of bathroom facilities, and little privacy, so make sure you go before you go!!!
     Also, WEAR CLOTHES THAT ARE COMFORTABLE, BUT THAT CAN (AND WILL) GET DIRTY! This is also NOT a place for high-healed anything, so wear sensible shoes.
    
Other Preparations/Concerns:

    No pets. There will be a great deal of people from many different backgrounds, heat and stress. Putting an animal in the middle of that mess would be inhumane; but we can do it to ourselves, and our children.

Restrictions: Any kind of vehicle is fine, but no pets.
Date:      Saturday, April 17th 2010
Rendezvous & Times: Al Thakhira road at the “five billboards intersection” (See directions below.)

Meet at:    8:00 AM
Depart at:    8:30 AM

Directions:
    It takes at least 30 minutes to drive from Doha to Al Khor on the Ras Laffan Highway, barring delays, so please plan accordingly.
    You are going in the direction of Al Thakhira and we will rendezvous at the “five billboards intersection”.

    •    When approaching Al Khor from Doha, Go straight across all of the six Roundabouts (RA)!!
    •    Pass through the AL Khor Gates (the two large stone columns at either side of the road)
                  then watch for the petrol station on the left (the Coastal Petrol Station).
    •    RA #1.     Just past the Coastal Petrol Station - Go STRAIGHT
    •    RA #2.     At Big LULU billboard - Go STRAIGHT
    •    RA #3.     Palm Trees in Middle - Go STRAIGHT
    •    RA #4.     Intersection with Al Khor Corniche - Go STRAIGHT
    •    RA #5.     At end of small Industrial Area - Go STRAIGHT
    •    RA #6.     At turn off to Al Khor Community - Go STRAIGHT

    •    Continue on for 1km, then take the turn on the right (This is the first turn on the right after the last RA).
    •    Pull onto the gravel, 50m around the corner. This corner has five small billboards. The prominent one says amongst its notices:

“Qatar Real Estate Investment Company, Mansell, and ALCAT”


Price per Adult: Free
Price per Child (under 12 years old): Free
Organizer(s): John Tribuna, QNHG Rambles & Field Trips Coordinator – send texts to 605.6762; no calls during business hours, and none after 9:00 PM.