There’s no doubt that Dubai is an alluring travel destination! With it’s massive luxury malls, glamorous 5-star hotels and the finest gourmet restaurants; it’s easy to get distracted by the bright lights of the “new” Dubai city and completely miss out on an authentic desert experience! With only 3 days to spare in this iconic desert oasis, we wanted to truly experience the ruggedness of the desert first hand, and I can’t think of a better way to accomplish that than with a Desert Safari!!
We knew this was something we wanted to do even before we left South African shores, and it was already part of our itinerary for day 2…all that was needed was for us to book our excursion! Searching online and pre-booking our safari proved to be quite confusing, so we landed up booking our safari when we arrived, and through the hotel we stayed at. This was definitely worth the gamble as we found the whole process from beginning to end to be well organised, efficient and seamless!
We booked our Safari with Planet Tours, but most tours offer more or less the same experience. There are various options available and you can either book a private vehicle, or opt to share with others (maximum 6 per vehicle), but that depends completely on the size of your group and your budget! Since we were already a group of 5, we managed to get the 4×4 all to ourselves!
The tour starts at 3pm, leaving you with the morning to either explore, shop or relax (we opted for a bit of shopping)! Our jeep picked us up promptly from our hotel, and without fuss, bother or any delays; we were on our way to experience the beauty of the desert in all it’s glory and sans the luxury of air conditioning (The jeep had air conditioning though)!
It’s a bit ironic, Dubai being in the desert and all, that we had to drive a good 45 minutes out of the city to get to experience the untouched part of the desert! It was beautiful and fascinating to see the changing landscape on our drive there. How the density of big city skyscrapers became more sparse and eventually gave way to the vast, amber coloured sands that spread out like an ocean against the horizon. At one point I wasn’t quite sure what I was more in awe of; being in the middle of an actual desert, or the oasis that man was able to create in the middle of it all!
The starting point is kind of like a meeting place for a fleet of jeeps and their passengers. We disembark briefly to properly soak in the propensity of our surroundings and take a few pictures, while the drivers let some air out of the tyres which I understand is necessary for a safe ride in our new terrain.
I remember wanting to capture everything in sight despite the sweltering heat…and also that everyone else was too hot to be bothered by it at all!
Our next stop was the campsite where would spend the rest of the evening; a makeshift Bedouin village in the middle of nowhere! By now the sun was beginning to set and the weather had cooled down to bearable and comfortable, and without the hindrance of harsh sun, we were truly free to enjoy the next couple of hours in our sandy paradise.
I loved this part of the safari experience because it gave us a peek into the life of the desert dwellers before it was transformed into a tourists paradise! It completely transported us back in time and gave us a feeling of what life could have been like. How people sought refuge from the relentless heat in the makeshift tents during the day, and how the community came to life in the centre of the campsite when the coolness of the evening fell…
There was a host of clichéd Arab things available for you to do to complete the whole experience; from camel rides to handling a falcon, henna tattoos and smoking shisha, belly dancers and the mesmerising Tanoura dancers (which involves a lot of spinning and many layers to their costume. Truly spectacular to watch…you can catch a glimpse in the video below), even dressing up in proper Arab garb; it was an evening of note! And we have only one conclusion, you cannot visit Dubai and NOT do a desert safari adventure.
*Barring the quad bike, falcon handling and camel ride; everything else was included in the price of the Desert Safari. More than enough food Arabic style food and barbecue and unlimited drinks also as well!!
Thanks for reading!!