I have been told time and again by my friends and colleagues that I should try and go for a desert safari at least once while in Dubai. More often than not, they would say that it’s one of the best things that one can do while in Dubai. Okay, so it never really interests me because I have been to a desert before while living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and I’ve seen camels there too. And I have been to Wadi Rum in Jordan as well. Turkish belly dancing? I prefer to see it in Turkey, thank you :-) (although if truth to be told, I actually prefer to watch the whirling dervish while in Istanbul... but then that’s another story for another day)
At the request of my brother, I called up a travel and tour company one late morning and arranged for a desert safari on the same afternoon. Everything was arranged over the phone while the payment was done over the internet. Once payment was made, we were advised that someone would come over to the hotel to pick us up at around 4 p.m. The whole process to book this rollercoaster ride on the sand dunes was smooth and easy.
The pickup came to our hotel at around 4 and we met up with our driver, an Indian guy. Inside the 4x4 vehicle there was already a family, which I believe is from India as well, comprising of one elderly couple, one young lady and a boy. Consequently my brother and I had to sit in the backseat of the vehicle, which was quite uncomfortable given our heights. Anyways we didn’t complain about it and thought might as well just try to enjoy the ride. So off we went to the desert!
After about 1 hour drive, we stopped at this place in the middle of nowhere where there’s a group of 4x4s waiting. At first I thought it’s going to be a convoy into the desert or something, and that they were waiting for us. Apparently not exactly but this is the place where all 4x4s stop to release some air from the tyres in preparation for the dune drive. The temperature here was smoking hot with high humidity so much so that most passengers started to sweat the moment they got out of the vehicles even though it was already about 5 in the afternoon. So like lambs going into a slaughterhouse, most of the passengers went into the small shop to buy rather flipping expensive drinks (AED23 for 2 small bottles of drinking water, 1 small bottle of juice and 1 can of fizzy drink, go figure) :-S
After everything was ready, we left and drove for another 5 minutes or maybe less when we entered the desert area and the driver started to practise his driving skills on the desert sands. After a few minutes, the journey suddenly became an adrenaline pumping rollercoaster ride going up and down the dunes in the desert. It was probably like a scene from one of those Fast and Furious movies although admittedly: (1) the 4x4 couldn’t really go as fast enough on the dunes; and (2) none of the movies have been shot in the desert. Well, at least I think so (not a fan of F&F movies actually)
Needless to say, we have no photos to show for this because everyone was busy holding on to the railings inside the 4x4 amidst some shouting (and not to forget prayers!). I remember the old guy who’s sitting in front of my brother shouted a bit and asked the driver to slow down because he didn’t want to die just as yet! Okay, I’m bad :-D
After about what seemed like an eternity, we were driven into a campsite where plenty of quad bikes were waiting. The rides on those quad bikes would cost extra though, unlike a short ride on these camels.
There’re also some sand-boarding activities at the camp but (boring people that we are) we opted to go out of the campsite area for a bit, climbing up a dune to watch the sunset.
This is the view of the campsite from where we were sitting waiting for the sunset.
Sunset view. Not exactly stunning but it was still mesmerising, just sitting on the golden sands watching the sun went down into the desert horizon... *dreaming*
Afterwards we walked back to the campsite for some free light refreshments and sat down for some entertainment before dinner. There’re some other activities in the campsite area like henna painting, sheesha smoking, photo opportunity dressing up in local garbs, etc. We did none of these and just sat down and waited for the... ahem, ahem, Turkish belly dancing show.
The entertainment consisted of three different acts, the first was a guy who danced, or rather kept on whirling around for a good 15 minutes, with skirts, umbrellas and other things I can’t even remember because my head was whirling just watching him whirling around. Despite that, he’s good, no doubt about it. Well, any dancer who can still stand straight after such a show must be good, don't you think? :-)
The second act was a lady dancing and playing around with fire. Afterwards we were invited to queue for dinner, which was buffet style. We both were fourth and fifth in the queue by the way, having found and settled ourselves down into a strategic seat near the buffet tent :-)
Finally the belly dancer came onto the stage and did all her stuff while we enjoyed our dinner. What? Did I hear you ask for photos of the belly dancer?? Sorry but too much flesh, so they have all been censored, thank you very much ;-)
We used One World Travel & Tourism LLC for this trip, which also included a free pick up from the hotel. For more information about the company, you may visit its website here. There are obviously other travel companies in Dubai that offer desert safari packages. The more popular ones are by Arabian Adventures although the package price could be different.
Cobone.com from time to time has a promotion (usually a 50% -off promotion) for a desert safari package.