A Safari in Dubai’s Desert

When visiting the United Arab Emirates, a safari though the desert is high on many lists. It was certainly at the top of my list! The sandstorm kept deferring the desert safari and I was becoming nervous that we may not get the opportunity. Luckily the sandstorm ended and allowed us the experience.

A Safari in Dubai's Desert ©2015 HollyDayz

Each desert safari company offers different options, but all are similar. The safaris include dune bashing, camel riding, dinner at a Bedouin camp, hookah, henna, and a belly dancing show. Depending on the company, some of these activities could be included or be an extra fee. Either way it is something not to be missed!

Choosing a company was tough! There are so many and I read a ton of different reviews online. Many of them were good so that didn’t help. Between the sandstorm and many of the safaris being booked out over the next 3 weeks it became even more difficult. I suggest if you find one you really want call and reserve a head of time. A few companies were suggested by a couple of people who actually live in Dubai. After a few phone calls, we chose Arabian Nights.

From what I have been told Arabian Nights is one of the older companies that has been around and one of the largest, so getting a reservation isn’t hard. Some desert safari companies will have you meet at certain locations they choose. Others will pick you up from your hotel or apartment and take you back. Arabian Nights picks you up! We were staying in a very new apartment complex that was around the corner from a new hotel that many people didn’t know even existed. Arabian Nights knew exactly where we were, but agreed to pick us up around the corner at the hotel just in case.

I saw so many SUVs pull up because the safaris head out around 3:30pm and were showing up to pick up people at the same time. The driver found us and to my surprise picked us up in a Hummer! Our driver Mohammed was awesome! He had candy and gum and told us to take as much as we wanted. He also stopped to pick up two more people from another hotel.

Pit stop at the store ©2015 HollyDayz
Pit stop at the store ©2015 HollyDayz

From there we began to drive away from the glamours city of Dubai towards the desert. Right before we headed to the desert we stopped at the store. Mohammed was very kind and bought everyone water and juice. We too went inside the store and it reminded me of the Gold & Spice Souk. The haggling commenced as everyone was purchasing items. Everyone bought scarves in which the sellers tied on everyone’s head and around their face to protect us from the sand flying around with the wind.

Gentleman wrapped the scarf on me ©2015 HollyDayz
Gentleman wrapped the scarf on me ©2015 HollyDayz

Soon after we continued driving down the highway and then we turned into the desert. We began going over dunes and started following other SUVs. We then stopped so they could let the air out of the tires for dune bashing, which is a form of off-roading. While they let the air out everyone was taking pictures. They also had photographers and videographers going around capturing the moments.

Everyone taking pics while they took the air out of the tires ©2015 HollyDayz
Everyone taking pics while they took the air out of the tires ©2015 HollyDayz

It was pretty chilly out and the sky was grey. I happily put my fleece on as the wind was kicking up. Mohammed fixed my scarf as he put it “the correct way.” Everyone was excited to see the Hummer, as there were only 2 out there. Everyone else were in SUVs. We piled back in the Hummer and began dune bashing. It was a lot of fun and felt like a roller coaster. Everyone stopped again so everyone could take pictures as the sunset over the desert. As soon as we stopped the hummer got stuck in the sand and had to be helped out.

Standing on top of a sand dune as the sunset ©2015 HollyDayz
Standing on top of a sand dune as the sunset ©2015 HollyDayz
Hummer stuck in sand ©2015 HollyDayz
Hummer stuck in sand ©2015 HollyDayz

As we continued on, darkness set in as we arrived to the camp. Mohammed informed us that the quad bikes would cost 20 AED extra and were at our own risk to use. They would not be held responsible for anything that happens. I saw why later, when one person ran into a fence. Another hit their friend on another bike. There didn’t seem to be an age limit to use one. Sandboarding was complimentary. I tried it out, I plopped back on my butt, but if you can snowboard I am sure it is easier. There was no one to actually help you so I had asked some other people what I was supposed to do.

After I attempted to sandboard ©2015 HollyDayz
After I attempted to sandboard ©2015 HollyDayz

They also had camel rides. A lot of people screamed and some kids cried. When the camels stand up or sit down it is pretty rough as you go up and come down. Especially if you are sitting in the front. I learned that the hard way and so on my second ride I decided to sit in the back. Much better place to sit when the camel stands and sits back down!

Riding a camel, took the back this time ©2015 HollyDayz
Riding a camel, took the back this time ©2015 HollyDayz
Entrance into camp ©2015 HollyDayz
Entrance into camp ©2015 HollyDayz

After taking a couple of laps we decided to head inside and get some food. They had a few appetizers before dinner. There was also alcohol and souvenirs that could be purchased. There was an area to get a henna, try hookah, hold a falcon, and try on traditional clothing. I tried my hand at holding the falcon, which was pretty heavy. I also tried on the clothes. Then I went and got a henna tattoo on my hand.

Holding the falcon ©2015 HollyDayz
Holding the falcon ©2015 HollyDayz
Trying on traditional clothing ©2015 HollyDayz
Trying on traditional clothing ©2015 HollyDayz
Henna Tattoo ©2015 HollyDayz
Henna Tattoo ©2015 HollyDayz

Not too long after dinner was served. One line for men and another line for women and children. There was bread, rice, chicken, lamb, and some other things. Nothing was labeled so I wasn’t 100% sure what it all was. It was pretty good.

Tandoori Dancer ©2015 HollyDayz
Tandoori Dancer ©2015 HollyDayz

It was getting really cold and I was very happy to have a fleece on. Even with the fleece and the two other shirts I had on underneath I was freezing! I also looked around and saw other people were cold. As we sat and ate a tandoori dancer came out and spun in circles. His outfit even lit up as he twirled and then brought up others to try it out with him. Afterwards a belly dancer came out. She too allowed people to come up and try some moves out with her.

Belly Dancer ©2015 HollyDayz
Belly Dancer ©2015 HollyDayz

After the performances it was time to go. We were cold so we were happy to get back into the warm car.  Once we piled in the car Mohammed handed us pictures and a DVD. He said the picture was from him. Earlier in the day when they were going around with the cameras we took pictures with him. He had gotten the pictures and handed us all one. He then handed us a DVD from the day. I thought that was an amazing touch to end the night. Such amazing keepsakes to take back with us.

See more of my experience first hand!

Have you ever taken a safari in Dubai’s desert? Or in the U.A.E in general? How was your experience if so?

30 thoughts on “A Safari in Dubai’s Desert

  • April 17, 2015 at 6:05 pm
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    WOW! This is so beautiful. My husband wants to visit Dubai. I would love to go too. If the trip happens this will definitely be on our list but I am not holding a falcon! Nope, can’t do it.

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    • April 17, 2015 at 6:13 pm
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      Thank you! It was so much fun! You both should visit, it is an amazing place that I would love to get back to soon. No falcon lol, why not? It is the national bird, he just sat there.

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  • April 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm
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    Dubai is definitely the place to go. My sister went and she had so much fun. I hope to visit soon. Thank you for the sneak peek of whats to come.

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    • April 18, 2015 at 12:08 am
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      I am glad she had a lot of fun! It is a great place. I hope you get there soon.

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  • April 19, 2015 at 2:53 am
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    Aww I did a desert safari in Dubai for NYE 2 years ago. It was a blast. This brings back memories!

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  • April 19, 2015 at 5:15 am
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    It looks like you had such a great time! I also would like to visit Dubai and head on a desert safari. I personally haven’t been to a desert before, so I can only imagine the intensity of the experience. I like your henna tattoo as well!

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    • April 19, 2015 at 10:50 pm
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      Thank you. I really liked it too. I should go get another, I was sad when it went away! I had an amazing time!

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  • April 19, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    That sounds like an amazing experience. And good tips for riding camels for anyone who wants to go to UAE or other desert safaris.

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    • April 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm
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      Thank you. Yea the camel was no joke. Everyone’s faces were priceless.

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    • April 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm
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      Glad it is on your list, hope you get there soon!

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  • April 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm
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    Just posted an article with video today about my own experience of a desert safari, dune bashing in Dubai, back in February. Had a brilliant time.

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    • April 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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      It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.

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  • April 24, 2015 at 8:44 am
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    Idk if I can take a Camel lol!! I bet that sunset is gorgeous though. You really got me wanting to book a flight this year

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    • April 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm
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      You have to try it!. The sunset was amazing!

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  • April 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    I haven’t been to U.A.E but love your tips about camels, I’ll be sure to sit at the back if I get a chance!

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    • April 26, 2015 at 9:39 am
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      The front was scary going up and coming back down. So many people were scared. I hope you get the chance soon.

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  • April 25, 2015 at 10:57 pm
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    Wow.. hadn’t heard of Dubai as a place for camel riding safaris.. they seem to have everything over there! Looks like Arabian Nights was a good choice!

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    • April 26, 2015 at 9:41 am
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      Yup, it is very popular!! They do have everything over there!

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  • April 26, 2015 at 12:05 am
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    OOooh I did this! Also went with Arabian nights and loved the experience; did the henna tattoos and the camel rides; I traveled way back in 2010 but your photos bring back vivid memories. Glad to hear you had a great time! – Meg Jerrard

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    • April 26, 2015 at 9:42 am
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      Awesome! There were a great company. I had fun. Glad you got the opportunity to go with them too!

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  • April 26, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    I have been to Dubai so many times, but sadly we never did a desert safari! We were always going from India and just wanted to soak up the beautifully air conditioned malls, western grocery stores and pristine markets! It’s on my list to go again as a traveler!

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    • April 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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      Hopefully next time you will get the opportunity to have that experience.

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  • April 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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    This is so much on my to do list.. Looks amazingly adventurous…. Bookmarking this for my trip to Dubai )

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    • April 28, 2015 at 7:10 pm
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      Awesome! You will have such an amazing time.

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  • April 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm
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    Looks amazing! It’s on my list to do a safari or desert trek in my lifetime. I’d love to ride a camel!

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    • April 28, 2015 at 7:12 pm
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      It was amazing! I hope you get the opportunity very soon. The camel ride was a lot of fun to me.

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  • May 9, 2015 at 11:44 am
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    Wow what an amazing experience! I’ve never been to the dessert, but this actually looks fun.

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    • May 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm
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      It was a lot of fun despite how cold it became.

      Reply

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