Desert Safari — one of the biggest highlights of our trip to Dubai!
Desert Safari is definitely a novelty treat. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing. Depending on the time of your visit, long sleeve for the cooler climate and shorter ones for the warmer days or nights. Try not to carry too many things with you – a sling bag is handy. And make sure that any expensive equipment is stored carefully, especially during the dune bashing and camel rides.
Book any tours for the Desert Safari and you’ll most likely be given the following list for the price of 150 AED (~SGD$50) per person!
- Dune Bashing
- Sunset Photography
- Camel Riding
- Sand Boarding
- Arabic Tea
- Shisha (smoking pipe)
- Henna Painting
- Tanura Show
- BBQ Buffet Dinner
- Belly Dancing
We did all of the above and LOVED every minute of it.
Most hotels offer brochures to these agencies who will take you on a Desert Safari. All you have to do is pick the agency that meets your needs, call and make a booking for your tour. The driver agreed to pick us up from our hotel. You can pick a morning tour (to see the sun rise) or a late afternoon tour (to see the sun set).
The Drive To The Desert
We picked the afternoon tour and began our journey at about 4pm. The driver picked us up from our hotel and we drove an hour to the desert. Make sure you take a toilet pitstop before you begin your journey, especially if you are travelling with kids below 10 years old. Also, pack some snacks in case they get hungry along the way.
This was our first desert safari so we were all very excited. Make sure you put on your seat belt in the car because the motion of the vehicle can cause serious whiplash. Sun shades are useful especially for the kids. Not just to protect their eyes from the sun but the sand as well— sometimes the breeze can blow sand into their eyes and it can be quite painful. If it does, do what you normally do at the beach and rinse it out with water. Our driver had a whole carton of bottled water for us to use.
At the edge of the Desert, our driver was nice enough to offer to make a pitstop so we could see the camels before we head out to the desert. There were merchants with owls perched on their arms. We paid SGD$20 to take a photo up close with the Owl.
The Desert Safari
Once on the desert, our driver had to stop the car to put some tracks on his car tyres so that the car will have more traction. While he did that, we took the opportunity to admire the beautiful sunset over the endless desert.
It was surreal to see yourself surrounded by miles and miles of sand as far as your eyes could see. The evening air cooled down from the scorching heat of the afternoon sun, but you could still feel the warmth of the waning sun.
We do not have any photos as the driver advised us to keep our cameras in store as the ride could get bumpy. And he was right.
It was like riding a roller coaster. The kids LOVE it!
At some points, we were concerned that the car might tip over, but it didn’t. Our experienced driver made sure we were safe, taking into account the kids’ age and how far he could go.
Dune bashing is a lot of fun, but it is not suitable for everyone. There are some safety concerns:
- Make sure your child is old enough to be properly strap in to avoid shoulder injuries or whiplash.
- Even adults can get seriously injured — according to our driver, some adults had had their heads bumped against the roof of the car or knocked against the windows of the car.
- The elderly, pregnant women and those with health conditions are typically advised to steer clear of such activity.
After 15 minutes, we’ve had our fill of dune bashing. It was time to head to the camp for the camel ride and entertainment before it gets too dark.
Camel Ride, Desert Camp and Safari Dinner
This is an overview of the Desert camp where dinner and entertainment for the evening will take place.
The camel ride was interesting. We were one of the first families to get there, so we climbed on the waiting camels and were the first to be led off on them. The kids wanted to ride by themselves and the camels were friendly so we let them. The ride was disappointingly short — about 5 minutes.
Off to our next activity — Sand Surfing. Now this has to be a highlight for my son. Sand Surfing is essentially the same as snowboarding, except that you are on sand instead of snow. My kids really enjoyed it. They had to wait their turns, but most of them went at least twice.
Then suddenly, nightfall was upon us and the Desert became pitch dark. Despite the lights from the camp, it was too dark to sand surf / board. Time to head to camp for dinner and entertainment.
Surrounding the camp fire were activities to do while dinner was in session. They visited the Henna lady who painted lovely designs on their arms and hands.
The air had cooled considerably (15 – 20 degree celsius). It was fun watching the kids chatting away and playing with one hand while waiting for their henna to dry up (last pic on the right).
Dinner and Entertainment
Dinner was surprising good!! My concerns that the kids may not eat Arabic food were completely unwarranted. After the dune bashing and sand surfing/boarding, they were famished. They lapped up their dinner and moved on to explore the sandy terrain (within sight of course).
Dinner was served in a buffet style. The menu was quite extensive. It was a mixture of Indian and international with rice, chapati, Indian curry (chicken, lamb, beef), fish fillets, chicken nuggets, and various vegetarian dishes and salads. They also served an assortment of bread. And for drinks, you have a selection of soft drinks and bottled water. No alcohol or pork were served at this meal.
After dinner, we gathered around the camp area for the entertainment.
While the performer before the belly dancer was good, she was definitely THE STAR of the show. According to my husband who grew up in Dubai and had seen more belly dancers than I have, she was very good and entertaining!!
If you ever have a chance to visit Dubai, Desert Safari is a MUST-Do on your list. What an amazingly wonderful experience!
For more things to do in Dubai with your kids, click on the link below.
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Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.