When planning our family adventure in Dubai, one of the experiences at the top of my bucket list was a DESERT SAFARI.
I thought the deserts surrounding Dubai would be the best opportunity we would have in a long time to do something really different.
Weirdly I met with a bit of resistance from hubby and the kids; their assumption being it would be “just all hot and sandy” or “boooooring”! Not wanting to be deterred I pushed on with the arrangements and our adventure was booked in and our time and date for collection from our hotel was confirmed.
When in Dubai, there are a couple of desert safari operators however the only operator that has the true conservation of a massive chunk of desert at the core of their business is ARABIAN ADVENTURES DUBAI. Everything they have created is aimed at allowing tourists like us to experience the desert whilst protecting the wildlife and the unique eco-system.
All the guides from Arabian Adventures are highly trained; their knowledge of the wildlife, the desert itself and the history of the Bedouin tribes is awesome. And of course they’ve all had years of practice getting their Landcruisers to do all sorts of crazy things on sand dunes that no one would dream of trying on their own.
Masood collected us from our hotel at 3.00pm and we were off. During the 40 minute trip from Atlantis the Palm (our hotel whilst in Dubai) Masood gave us the run down on the events for the next 4 – 5 hours. Definitely an action packed time.
About 10 minutes of straight, flat driving on sandy roads and we made our first stop – a live falcon show where we learnt the history of the Falcons in Bedouin culture and therefore why the Falcon is so significant in Dubai terms now. The show went for about 20 minutes and every person was enthralled from beginning to end.
After the Falcon show, it’s back into the Landcruisers and definitely safety belts locked and loaded! The next 30 minutes is a combination of hanging on for dear life and laughing so hard you’re crying watching the occupants of the car as your Landcruiser races up to the peak of a massive sand dune – not really slowing down as it goes up and over – and down!
Want to check out AWESOME VIDEOS? There are loads on Arabian Adventures Dubai’s facebook page here.
I’d equate this to the longest most exciting roller coaster ride you’ll ever find … and you certainly forget about anything else for the entire time!
Masood is the lead driver for our adventure and he’s the one keeping everyone and all the other drivers on track. He knows exactly which way the wind is blowing and the precise minute the sun will set so he creates the pace. At exactly 15 minutes to sunset, all the cars park and we pile out – racing around to get the best spot for our sunset pics.
The weather is stunning; it’s the perfect time of year for this adventure. As warm and golden as the sun looks, it’s mid 20s and low humidity. There’s no wind and no insects so everyone is very happy snapping away for about 20 minutes.
Masood tells me that even in the height of Summer, the sunset is a beautiful time. He laughs and says that for those who do find the heat too much they can still enjoy the sunset through the nice clean windows from inside his air conditioned cruiser.
There’s the typical shots (like the one above) and then my kids have to cram in a few cartwheels while we wait for the sun to set …
Masood grabs our camera and ushers us all together – just as the sun is setting. This one might just become my new facebook profile pic for a while …
It’s a magical time of day for everyone. Everyone is quiet as the sun dips behind the dunes – even the go kart kite is careful not to ruin the mood of such a magical sunset.
Once the sun goes down (but the twilight remains) we jump back into the vehicles and head to camp. Another 10 minutes or so of duning and then we come into the Arabian Adventures Camp which has been purpose created to reflect the Bedouin camps from centuries past.
At the entrance, a Falcon trainer patiently allows everyone who is keen to experience the weight of his bird and inspect the sharp beak and even sharper claws up close. Everything is included in the one price which I love – no having to ask how much or tell the kids they can’t do this or that because you’re counting your pennies!
Falcons ticked off the list and we head into the village along a picture perfect sand entranceway lit by lanterns.
Masood has told the girls there will be ladies in the village who will give them Henna Tattoos. They’ve asked me for these for years and because they’re all included, they race in and we are the first ladies to be tattooed. An interesting smell and you need to not bump anything for a half hour but after that you can wash or rub off the excess and the pattern remains (well for a couple of weeks anyway)!
Once our henna is dry, Masood invites us to meet some local men from Pakistan who actually live on the Arabian Adventures desert reserve and bring their camels in so that guests on the desert safari can enjoy a camel ride. It’s not expected but it is nice to give these men a token of your appreciation – these camel rides provide their livelihood.
Everyone is then invited to grab a drink (wine, beer and soft drinks). Again, unlimited drinks are included as part of the price so you’re not searching for your wallet.
The atmosphere of the village is so special – firepits with cushions all around, the softest sand you could imagine, beautiful lanterns everywhere and long low tables under woven tents at which we enjoy a buffet dinner which includes all sorts of middle eastern delights – hommus, the freshest tabouli, tomato salads, massive bowls of olives, minted lamb, kofta, chicken skewers, flat breads and then sweet little fried pastries for dessert.
After dinner, the crowd draws their cushions close to a central area covered in beautiful woven rugs to enjoy a show of traditional dances. Amazing.
Once the show concludes, the team dim all the lights in the camp and everyone star gazes for 10 minutes. It’s incredible just how many stars appear in a sky that is miles and miles away from the bright lights of the city.
Thankfully the road home is a different road than the inbound route so there is no duning (all that on a tummy full of dinner and a glass or two of wine may not be a happy match). Just a smooth ride back through the desert and right on to our hotel.
A very quiet trip home; sleeping kids and us happily reflecting on just how much is packed into an afternoon and evening.
Would we do it again? Would we recommend a desert safari with ARABIAN ADVENTURES DUBAI?
Absolutely. It’s an experience we’ll remember forever.