Dubai’s Desert Safari

One of the most memorable trips I’ve had was my visit to the Middle East. It was an unfamiliar world with a lot of unexpected discoveries. Beautiful discoveries. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Dubai through a local’s eyes which for me was what made it exceptional. That was priceless. However, I was also able to enjoy the more crowded and  popular tourist attractions like Burj AL Arab, Burj Khalifa, Miracle Garden, Dubai Mall, to name a few.

I also went on a desert safari excursion and loved it! Like any big tourist destinations, Dubai offers plenty of tour packages. Most companies also offer the same  tours and have pretty much the same prices. it’s just a matter of which hotel you are staying at and which company they partnered with.

I went with my friend on the Evening Desert Safari (3:00 pm to 9:30 pm). This was awesome because we were able to watch the sunset over the Arabian desert. I highly recommend this activity!

The tour typically includes:

The driver picked us up from my friend’s apartment in Sharjah. Since the SUV was for 6 people,we ended up joining a group of four other tourists. We picked up two older Indian couples at a fancy hotel in downtown Dubai. The women, particularly, were dressed in beautiful traditional saris and they were very friendly. Not to mention fancy.

Dune Bashing

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Dune bashing is a form of “off-roading” on sand dunes. It was so much fun! If you are prone to vertigo or motion sickness, this may not be for you. At one point our SUV got stuck in the sand. This was obviously a frequent occurrence, everybody knew what to do. Drivers from other cars and tours even stopped by to help. I’ve never seen  so many helpful hands. It was probably a good half hour before we were finally set free.

The journey alone was like a roller-coaster ride and those sand dunes, especially once you get deep in the desert, were unreal. It was as if we were surfing and gliding on water.

Camel Ride

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You’re already in the middle of the desert so might as well get on a camel for a complete experience. After dune bashing, the guide will drive the group to the camp where there will be entertainment, dinner and vendors waiting for tourists to spend their money.There are a lot of activities once you get to the camp. You can ride camels or ATVs, touch a hawk and have your photo taken. Yes it’s a tourist trap but it should be as expected.  I experienced my first camel ride here. It was honestly scary at first because these camels are really tall and I felt like I was going to fall off. But even for the short gallop around the vicinity and I got my photos taken, it made for a great experience.

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Belly Dancers and Performers

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The last part of the excursion included food, belly-dancing and some fire performers. I loved the community setting of the camp. There was a large dance floor in the middle of the camp surrounded by tables and pillows where we sat and ate according to our assigned group. This was a large gathering of all visitors from every  tour operator. The dinner was a buffet line of exotic Arabian food. I tried them all but I wasn’t really a fan. It was also a good way to meet other visitors!


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Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.