I find when I travel it’s hard sometimes to decide what super touristy attraction I want to do, if any. Sometimes the attractions are super cheesy and overpriced, not worth it. But sometimes I feel that there are experiences that– even though I know will be super touristy– would be a fun experience. Going on a desert safari seemed worth while and we went into it knowing that it would be full of other tourists. If you Google desert safari in Duabi you will find a million (okay, probably 20) options. I went by Trip Advisor and picked one that popped up and had good reviews, but honestly I bet they are all very similar. We went with Desert Safari Dubai, which charged us about $50/person.
The driver picked us up at our hotel at 4:15pm with an older couple already in tow, and after picking up a couple of guys, we headed out of the city. It was interesting to see how far out into the dessert the city actually stretched. The first stop was a pit stop, maybe 30 minutes away from the city center. There were three bathroom stalls and 100 people…but the line went quickly and it was amusing watching the shop workers try to sell head turbins to tourists.
Aurelien: It was crazy to see just how many SUVs full of people were stopping at this store. Safaris are massive business in Dubai, and for good reason. Its an easy way for tourists to go experience the desert quickly and without getting too much sand in their shoes. We had a very concerned older lady in our vehicle who kept asking the driver how crazy the dune bashing would be. She was very quick to faint, she warned him repeatedly. Her husband sat in the front seat and tried to ignore his wife as much as possible. Our two other car-mates were young men from the Philippines that had moved to Dubai to work; they both worked at the Burj Khalifa complex and told us a bit about their work there.
Back to Anna-Lisa: After the pit stop we kept on driving a few more miles, pulled over to deflate the tires and started our 20 minutes or so of dune bashing. Dune bashing is when the vehicles cruise through the desert sands, going up and down quickly. The SUVS in the picture below are just a few from our company, the other companies go at the same time, but at different areas of the desert. The picture might look tame, but wow, it was really exhilarating and a little scary! Our driver cruised up dunes and pummeled down them, sometimes almost flipping the vehicle over (that was my perception of course). I believe that if I tried what he did, I would of rolled the SUV, and they did have re-enforcements in place if that were to happen. It felt like a roller coaster ride and probably five minutes into the 20 minutes I started to get car sick. Really car sick. I didn’t throw up, but felt very nauseous and wanted it to be over. Somehow I endured 15 more minutes and then all of the SUVS stopped to let people take pictures in the desert.
Aurelien: Anna-Lisa and I sat in the very back, which I think makes the experience more intense in terms of getting nauseous. I didn’t get it as bad as her and the ride was really fun! I do wish I had sat in the front though, it would have had the best view! The funniest part of the trip was that while the old lady had made a huge deal about the driver being all careful and not going too hard, once we got going our Indian driver didn’t seem to care one bit and pushed it to the limit. One of the young Philippinos ended up being just as scared as her, so they were happy holding onto each other’s hands. The lady thanked him afterward for helping her make it through the experience.
Just to show how skilled the drivers have to be to do the dune bashing, one of the SUVs actually got stuck on the top of a ridge and had to be pulled out!
After getting back to the road to head to the camp we stopped to take some sunset photos, I was still in the back of the SUV trying to get over the car sickness.
At the camp they had some activities. We got to ride a camel for probably two minutes, we went around in a circle. Honestly the two minutes was enough, they aren’t the most comfortable animals to ride! Getting up and down was an experience; coming down hurt slightly! I hope the camels are treated well.
There was also free henna, a chance to try on the traditional sheikhs outfits (I opted out because I was able to wear a burka at a mosque). Aurelien jumped on the chance, I’m not sure it suits him as well as the Emiratis. 😉
Once the sun went down they had everyone get appetizers and then there was a buffet dinner. I would say that most everyone could enjoy the dinner; children, meat eaters and even us vegetarians. They had a lot of variety, most of the dishes were vegetarian, so that was nice for us. They then had an Egyptian male dancer and a belly dancer. After that we jumped back into the SUV and headed back to the hotel getting home around 9pm.
Aurelien: Overall the experience was quite fun and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t get motion sickness easily. Considering the fact that the old lady managed to get through it after being overly concerned about it, I would say most people will handle it just fine. Anna-Lisa and I do recommend trying not to sit in the way back though, as it is bumpier and jerkier back there!
We hope you enjoyed our post on Desert Safari Dubai. In case you missed it, we also have another post full of photos from Dubai!