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Gareth Leonard

Dune Buggy Adventures in Natal

Natal-BuggyTour-Sand

Imagine yourself shrunk down to the size of a Lego man and thrown into a giant sand box.

You’re too small to get out alone, but big enough to enjoy all the toy cars.

This is what it feels like to experience the giant sand dunes of Natal.

My journey into the sandy playground began bright and early Monday morning when I was picked up by a local guide (Felipe) and three other tourists (a Spanish couple and a Brazilian girl). We drove about 20 minutes outside of town while the weather tried to hinder our plans.

The only downside of riding in the shell of a car is that when it rains, you’re involved.

Fortunately, by the time we cut through the side streets and entered into the park, the sun began winning the battle for the sky.

Natal-BuggyTour-Start

With a simple “hold on,” our driver downshifted and pointed the aging dark purple vehicle directly up hill.

Like a rollercoaster, we climbed, dropped and twisted our way across the dunes. I thought we were in for a flip on a few occasions but our driver always seemed to be in control.

He was definitely enjoying himself because he accelerated a little more with each scream.

While the girls remained seated for most of the ride, the Spanish guy and I had a great time playing chicken in the back seat. First one to sit down lost and neither of us would fold.

Our grips loosened every so often when there was a river or lake to cross. Felipe drove the buggy onto a platform where two men would push off the ground with large wooden sticks to guide us across.

Natal-BuggyTour-River

Some of the lakes we would cross and continue, while others we would stop for a swim or snack. It was interesting to see locals prefer the calm, shallow lakes to the ocean. I guess when there are beaches everywhere; you can take your pick.

Natal-BuggyTour-Lake

It was difficult to sit still after such an adrenaline-pumping activity, so our driver took us to another part of the park where they setup a number of different “thrill-rides.” There was a giant slip-n-slide, a zip-line and a waxed-up sled that all hurled you downhill and into a lake below. I could have spent all day there.

Natal-BuggyTour-SandSlide

In between lake hopping and dune riding, I inevitably had to get out of the buggy a few times to explore the space. Like a pile of fresh snow, you could run and jump off big hills and land comfortably in the sand below.

Natal-BuggyTour-Jumping

As the sun came down and sand cooled off, it was time to head back after a great day in the sand boxes of Natal.

Natal-BuggyTour-CityView

Now I understand why Lego men are stuck with a smile on their face all the time!



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