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All You Need To Know Before Going On A Desert Safari in Dubai

Dubai Safari Tours

When you think of Dubai, the city oozes luxury and incredible infrastructure but the city also pays homage to its traditional Bedouin roots by opening up its culture to tourists through the dunes of the Arabian Desert. A desert safari is the ultimate experience of modern Dubai coming together with the historic desert as you experience activities such as dune bashing, authentic Arabian food, camel rides, tents in the desert, quad biking, camel safari, sand boarding and much more that keeps the culture of Dubai alive.

Everything To Know Before Going On A Desert Safari:

There are many places within Dubai where you can go for a desert safari as most of them are held throughout the year. Moreover, you can opt for a morning desert safari or a night desert safari which is accessible throughout neighbouring deserts. All of this gives you the opportunity to find the best desert safari Dubai and experience the traditional culture of Dubai at its finest, as soon as possible! 

Dubai desert safari activities are fun for just about every individual because there is a range of activities to do here that achieves nuances of experiences. Some of the most popular activities with the realm of a desert safari include: 

Traditional activities such as :

  • Falconry, 
  • Camel riding, 
  • Henna painting, 
  • Sheesha smoking, 
  • Traditional dance like the belly dance and tanoura,
  • Learning the history of the Bedouin folk through the Bedouin camps, 
  • Ride across the landscape on an Arabian Horse.
  • A buffet of Arabic cuisine.
  • Desert barbeque

Modern desert adventure activities such as :

  • Dune Bashing, 
  • Dune Buggy Riding, 
  • Quad Biking,
  • Sand Boarding,
  • A bird’s eye view of the desert from a Hot Air Balloon ride. 

It is with this perfect blend of the past and the future, that we say that the Arabic desert is perfect for anyone looking for adventure or luxurious indulgence. But making a final choice of which safari combination is best for you or your family, can get a little bit overwhelming and confusing. That’s why we have decided to make our list of all the things you need to know before you go on a desert safari. 

What Is A Desert Safari?

Since Dubai is in close proximity to the desert, you can witness scenic Red Dune landscapes unlike anywhere else. The city is also blessed with plenty of sand dunes offering locals and tourists an iconic experience. It’s no wonder that Dubai houses an array of desert safari options. When you go back home, you leave with the stories of the fun adventures you participated in, the incredible food and entertainment too. Some people go on this trip to propose to their future partners as many celebs have done, others come as a family to enjoy and some come here to unwind. This paradise has become one of the most iconic and sought after pastime activities in Dubai.

Most desert safaris in Dubai will begin at your hotel itself where you will be picked up at your stay and be transported to the amazing desert. At the desert camp, you will have a choice of different experiences and activities.  Be sure to wear loose fitting and a comfortable desert safari outfit in order to be more comfortable during this trip. 

FAQ

How much does a desert safari cost in Dubai?

A successful trip is a happy trip if all the experiences can be done without overspending or crossing your budget. So here’s a budget to keep in mind: 

Minimum-cost: US$10-20 (AED 35-70) a desert safari of  this range will cover for cheap safari, but not the cost of renting a quad bike. You can still do some cheap to moderately priced desert dune driving. 

Mid-range: US$50-75 (AED 125-210) per person, this range will cover a moderate cost when it comes to meals and desert dune driving. 

VIP: US$100+ (AED 375+) per person, this range will cover very exclusive desert safaris, all of the tourist attractions you want to see and quad biking payments as well. 

What time does desert safari start?

Desert safaris can happen at various times. During the day you can opt for morning safaris that are geared towards adventure sports with activities such as dune bashing and quad biking for you to experience the thrill that the desert can offer. Evening safaris on the hand start late afternoon and offer adventure services such as buffet dinners, entertainment shows, henna painting, sand bashing or camping and maybe even sleeping under the stars! 

When’s the ideal time to go for a desert safari? 

The ideal time for a desert safari is a winter evening. Summers are hot but they waver with mornings quickly moving from cool to hot. The evening is the most ideal time to go during the day because you not only get to catch a wonderful sunset but the afternoon quickly gives way to the night, which is much cooler.

How long does desert safari take?

Generally, a desert safari takes somewhere between 4 to 7 hours. 

What do you wear to a desert safari in Dubai?

Many people who want to go for a desert safari for the first time are often confused by this question. So here are a few quick things that will help look beautiful yet comfortable:  

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Unlike other rules  in the Emirates, you will be solely in the company of other travelers and, therefore, without dress restrictions.
  • For men: wear shorts or capris, or cotton pants and shirts. These options are ideal for a hassle free experience
  • For women: loose cotton/linen pants and basic T-shirts  will be suitable especially if you opt for sandboarding. Women can also wear long dresses. 
  • While it sounds like a mistake to wear open-toed shoes or flip-flops in the desert, it is actually preferable. As you are walking through fine sand, you’ll want shoes you can easily take on and off and dump the sand out of, rather than tennis shoes with socks.
  • Limited jewellery is recommended for all. 
  • Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with you to shield yourself from the harsh desert sun. 
  • The weather in the desert drops in the evenings so you need to carry something like a lightweight jacket or cardigan with you. 

Desert Safari Tour Types:

Morning Desert Safari

Dubai is well known for its desert safari but did you know that there is a morning desert safari and an evening one? At different times of the day, the Arabian desert landscape has an eluding charm. In the morning, the desert gives a brilliant start to your day when you are absolutely fresh and pepped up to enjoy this adventure! In addition to that, the morning sun gives a glow to the soft sand of the desert which is still cold from the temperature of the previous cold night. 

During the morning you have the opportunity to absorb the stunning beauty of the tranquil 

Arabian desert when it’s not too hot. When you are used to waking up to head to work, here you get up to leave the busy city life behind. As you drive straight to the heavenly land of a desert in a 4×4 vehicle, your journey will allow you to witness some stunning desert scenery, rare birds, wildlife and experience fun activities that you cannot do at night. In the mornings you get enough time to leisurely cover all this while the desert is still relatively cool. 

If you are worried about skipping breakfast or quickly eating one before leaving for this trip, don’t be. After the exciting desert activities, a sumptuous breakfast awaits you to pamper your stomach in the morning. Also if you are worried about morning safaris being too hot and choosing an evening one, just know that contrary to the belief desert mornings are pretty nice and cool because the slanting rays of the sun are not so harsh. Unlike the evening you have enough time to enjoy the desert activities in ample sunlight. 

Many don’t realise that evening desert safari begins in the late afternoon when it’s still very hot so it’s not really all that favourable.  Morning desert safaris make it easier for you to spot some rare wildlife like Arabian oryxes and gazelle species that venture out commonly in the morning hour. There are also some special morning activities like hot air balloon rides which are performed only as part of a morning safari. You shall also appreciate and enjoy the tranquility of the desert far more with a lesser number of tourists around you. You can eat like a king to your heart’s content at the breakfast which is part of this safari. At the end of the day, you have the advantage of getting dropped back to your place of stay and free to spend the rest of the day as per your plan.

A Typical Morning Desert Safari Experience

In a morning desert safari, a designated driver picks you in a 4×4 from the place of your stay or destination at a fixed time in the morning. Then you get driven to the outside of the city, an entirely different surrounding within the Arabian desert. A desert safari camp typically lies in the Dubai Conservation Reserve or the Red Lahbab desert. So that’s where you are headed.

  • Upon arrival, you enter the site or camp where dune bashing is the first activity. 
  • This is a fun roller coaster speed ride up and down the sand dunes by a licensed expert driver of a 4 wheel vehicle. 
  • Next, you can opt for sandboarding which is a lot of fun as it lets you slip on the sand mounds using a board.
  • After this, you can hop on a dune buggy under the guidance of your tour guide.
  • Later you can see the desert from up high with the most fascinating morning activity: a hot air balloon ride. It is piloted by expert specialists to give you an experience of a lifetime! At a height of  4,000 feet above the desert floor, the landscape of the amazing desert is absolutely mesmerising. 
  • Sit on top of a camel which is an absolute favourite with kids and adults alike. 
  • Identifying rare plants and animals is also a high point of this desert safari. To see the galloping gazelles and Arabian Oryxes in their natural habitat during the wildlife safari is highly possible during the morning safari. 
  • Next, the fun activities are held at the beautiful desert camp. The first of which is to eat and indulge yourself on the lavish and exciting breakfast spread (depending on the chosen option). A range of international and local preparations along with the beverages awaits. 
  • You can then conclude your adventurous trip to the desert and you would be safely driven back to the place of your stay.

Morning Desert Safari Tips

  • Casual comfortable clothes would be an ideal choice for a morning safari as it can get too hot and you’ll miss out on enjoying all the fun activities there.
  • Opt to wear open shoes, flip flops or sandals footwear because you are getting in and out of the vehicle frequently onto the sand.
  • Sunglasses are very helpful as it is going to be sunny and the sand tends to get into your eyes which can ruin your experience.
  • The sun is very strong in deserts so apply sun lotion and reapply sun lotion and carry a cap if possible.
  • Dune bashing is like a rough roller coaster ride type experience. Avoid dune bashing if you are old, or have a small child or have any other health issues.
  • Listen to your instructor carefully before performing every activity and don’t forget to ask any questions you have in mind. 

Evening Desert Safari 

Dubai offers sky diving which is highly known to get the adrenaline pumping but so can the desert safari experiences in the evening. Since morning desert safaris get hotter and hotter when they trail into noon, evenings present the best time to go for a desert safari. During the later hours of the afternoon, when the sun has already started its descent, it gives you the opportunity to discover the magical ambience of the desert. The early humid heat of the desert slowly recedes to make way for the cool breezy evening. This is the perfect temperature for all the fun activities like sand boarding, quad biking, and more. With ample time at hand, unlike a morning safari, you have the entire evening to relax all the way to the night stars. 

With an evening safari, you can exit the city’s noise and head out to the boundless desert in a 4×4 vehicle. You start your journey in the late afternoon enjoying the thrill of dune bashing. As you climb up and down the dune, you begin an expedition that celebrates the essence of desert life. Next, you find yourself in the middle of never-ending soft sand dunes glistening with an orangish red tone. With this backdrop of the sun setting in the amber sky you are free to absorb the amazing beauty of the Arabian sky and click fantastic photos. This is why one of the best times to witness the spirit of desert is the evening time. Later you can enjoy a traditional evening marked with belly dancing etc, gazing at the stars in the cool comfort of the  Bedouin Camp, relishing a spread of traditional as well as continental delicacies. These are some of the things which come only with an evening desert safari.

Enjoy a perfectly relaxing evening under a star laden sky is the perfect way to complete the day. 

A Typical Evening Desert Safari Experience

An evening desert safari offers a cooler and distinct way to experience the desert. 

An evening desert safari typically begins with the option of pick up from your destination. A desert safari camp typically lies in the Dubai Conservation Reserve or the Red Lahbab desert. So that’s where you are headed.

  • Upon arrival, you enter the site or camp where dune bashing is the first activity in 4 wheel drives such as a Hummer or Land cruiser. 
  • An expert driver will  you on an adrenalin pumping adventurous drive over the sand dunes.
  • Absorb the ambience, click some amazing pictures in the night sky. 
  • Enjoy other adrenaline pumping activities like riding a quad bike, driving a dune buggy or simply loving the sand dunes with the perfect time to do some sandboarding.
  • Enjoy the famous camel rides. 
  • Falconry, the ancient tradition of falcon hunting is something you need to experience here. 
  • The most relaxing and entertaining part of a safari though is kept for the last. The traditional dance forms like tanoura and belly dancing keep you thoroughly enchanted, mesmerized and making you feel like you have to try them at home! 
  • Your lavish dinner buffet is a great spread of 3 course meals with a range of traditional and international cuisines. 
  • Participate in traditional henna painting on your hands or taking photoshoots in traditional attire.
  • Lastly, you call it a day with unforgettable memories of an amazing evening as you are dropped to your place of stay. 

Evening Desert Safari Tips

  • Avoid wearing formal clothes during an evening safari. 
  • Carrying a thin jacket or a thick scarf during an evening desert safari as the deserts tend to get chilly at night.
  • Opt to wear open shoes, flip flops or sandals footwear because you are getting in and out of the vehicle frequently onto the sand.
  • Sunglasses are very helpful at the start of the evening as sand tends to get into your eyes and can ruin your experience.
  • The sun is very strong in deserts so apply sun lotion and reapply sun lotion and carry a cap if possible.
  • Dune bashing is like a rough roller coaster ride type experience. Avoid dune bashing if you are old, or have a small child or have any other health issues.
  • Listen to your instructor carefully before performing every activity and don’t forget to ask any questions you have in mind. 

Camel Safari

What is a camel safari?

You cannot leave Dubai without a desert safari, accompanied by a camel ride experience. A camel safari is a type of desert safari that offers you a different experience as you kick it old school and take a journey through the windswept desert on the back of a camel, and enjoy the view of the ancestors of the city. A camel riding safari is not just for adults, it is also for kids. Anyone can sit on the back of these amazing bears and enjoy the adrenaline that instantly kicks into your stomach as soon as you get high off the ground. Plus, you get to live the life of the Bedouins who traveled across the desert in ancient times, and afterwards, indulge in traditional activities like henna painting, hookah, traditional falconry, and belly dancing. A camel desert safari will offer you a traditional dinner including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for a real Arabian feast. 

A Typical Camel Desert Safari Experience

Get a pick up from your hotel in a 4×4 vehicle. You then drive into the desert and commence your desert safari. 

  • You can begin by diving straight in for some dune bashing
  • Post that, you are typically taken to a Bedouin camp, where you can pick from a range of activities to try out- quad biking and sand surfing. 
  • At the venue, your expert guides will teach you the dos and don’ts of camel riding. Your guides will make sure that your  ride is smooth and carefree. If you are afraid of riding a camel, don’t be because camels are calm animals. When you climb aboard the camel’s back, just sit back and enjoy the view.
  • Next, you return to the camp and check out how the traditional Bedouin people entertained themselves, by smoking hookah and applying henna. 
  • Do indulge in a traditional Arabic feast, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, as you enjoy a tanoura dance and belly dancing performances, before you are dropped back to your hotel.

Morning Camel Safari

On a morning safari, you get to start your morning right by taking a camel ride in the middle of the desert. With guides available to ensure your experience goes without a hitch, you will have a lovely experience in the desert and spot other wildlife with the height advantage. 

Evening Camel Safari

In the evening, you get to ride the “Ship of the Desert” which is an old nickname given to these strong animals. After this time you can enter a  Bedouin camp and experience a wide variety of desert activities such as sand boarding, henna hand painting and hookah smoking. Be entertained as dancers present a show of Belly dances, Tanoura dance and Haridi dance

Camel Ride Safari Tips

  • Please have your lunch early as the desert safari and camel ride, in particular, involves a lot of sudden movements.
  • Carry a thin jacket or a scarf because the deserts tend to get a bit chilly at night.
  • Casual, light, comfortable clothes are ideal when going for a camel safari in Dubai because you will be hopping on and off. 
  • Listen to your instructor carefully before performing every activity and don’t forget to ask any questions you have in mind. 
  • Opt to wear open shoes, flip flops or sandals footwear because you are getting in and out of the vehicle frequently onto the sand.

What is usually included in Desert Safari Dubai?

This is a general checklist of popular desert safari activities in Dubai. Even though a personal experience may vary, here are a few typical things that happen. In short, you can go from rising dune buggies to bashing sand dunes to tasting an Arabic spread to watching traditional belly dances and sleeping under the stars. Other traditional activities are falconry, camel riding, henna painting and shisha smoking. Every age group will find activities that caters to their needs under the range of experiences and activities on offer at a desert safari in Dubai. 

A typical desert safari begins when you get picked up in front of your building by your safari guide. You will then leave the city and enter the desert camp, usually in the Red Lahbab desert or the Dubai Conservation Reserve. At the desert, the first experience is usually a wild session of dune bashing in a 4×4 – picture riding in Hummers, Land Cruisers and Range Rovers. While you are safely secured inside a 4×4, an expert driver will take you for a thrilling ride over the sand dunes in what can only be described as a new way to experience a rollercoaster in the desert.

At the camp, you can participate in other desert adventure sports such as dune buggy riding where you can drive over the dunes in a specially designed vehicle; quad biking and sandboarding, a sport that resembles snowboarding but on sandy desert dunes instead. Even though kids can enjoy these activities in the company of an adult, their absolute favourite attraction at a desert camp is camel riding. Certain desert safaris also offer you the unique experience of falconry where you can experience the ancient tradition of falcon hunting.

As the sun sets, you will ease into an evening of entertainment and dinner. The dinner served at desert safaris is usually 3-course buffet dinners with local and continental dishes. While you enjoy your dinner in the open desert air, dance entertainers will showcase their amazing belly and tanoura dance skills, bringing the evening to a close.

Please keep in mind that one can also choose from either night desert safari or a day desert safari both wonderful in their own way. While the morning safaris allow you to witness a golden sunrise, the evening safari lets you catch a glimpse of the sun setting into the dunes. A morning or evening desert safari will include the following:

Hotel pick-up and drop-off

Almost 99% of the desert safari tours will pick you up and drive you to the campsite so there is no need to wonder how you’re going to get yourself into the Dubai desert,. You will be picked up from your destination and dropped back after the experience. Since transport is taken care of, all you have to do is worry about selecting your activities when you get there. 

Food

Dubai’s desert safari boasts a wide array of traditional activities – mainly the buffet dinner and an entertainment show. As the night sets in, indulge in a delicious dinner buffet while belly dancers keep you entertained along with a tanoura dance, puppet and horse dance or even a fire dance!

Dune Bashing

Dune bashing takes off-roading to the ultimate level! A classic Dubai sport, this is the most popular sport in the city. Thunderous 4X4 vehicles thrash through the sand dunes in a series of twists and turns. Often, the dune bashing leads to impromptu races giving passengers a complete roller coaster ride! With sand spraying in the air and the ground slipping underneath, dune bashing is a total adrenaline rush. The experienced drivers know the desert territory like the back of their hand and will make it seem like nothing. That’s mainly due to the fact that they are skilled professionals. The whole convoy follows the squad leader (with a small flag on top of their Cruiser), who is generally the most experienced and knows the desert well.

After 20 mins into the ride, the convoy will halt for a short while to cool off the engines. This is the perfect time to stop on the dune peaks and capture the terrific moment with your loved ones on this unforgettable ride! Take photos of the panoramic images of the desert and photos with the Falcons that are carried around by locals at this point.

Quad Biking

A Quad Bike is a 4 wheel petrol powered bike that  is very well adapted to the desert terrain. They are the ultimate machines built for the purpose of adventure and thrill. These bikes are all-terrain vehicles that are at home on the sandy dunes of Dubai. These bikes offer a roller coaster ride as they climb up and down the slopes in an adrenaline inducing fashion. The Quad Bikes are something you’ll never forget and are even novice riders can easily drive on these dunes. Every single ride is supervised by trained instructors who guide newbies through the trails and ensure safety. This is definitely not for the weak hearted and the power of the vehicle can be overwhelming and a true adventure experience!

Dune Buggy Riding

Want to have an adventure of a lifetime? Then look no further than the Dune Buggy! This awesome monstrous and rugged looking machine is an open-air 4X4 vehicle that seats up to 4 passengers and a driver. A ride in this is guaranteed to thrill and get yourself screaming with joy with your friends and family. On the buggy you get to go dune bashing and climb over incredibly high sand dunes. Then you can stop at the dune peaks and enjoy the stunning desert vistas for a moment in tranquillity. The Dune Buggy is only driven by expert licensed drivers who know the terrain and know how to offer the best adventure ride of your life!

Fat Bike Riding

Cycling through the desert is not impossible any more! The Fat Bike is a special support bike for cycling through the sandy deserts of Dubai. This is an exciting adventure sport that involves a Fat Bike or a bicycle with thick tyres. The Fat bikes are built to travel across snow and sand giving the rider the ultimate thrill of traversing uncharted terrain. The large size and almost endlessness of the desert throws a challenge to every rider in endurance. The fat biking tours are conducted by experts who will navigate the terrain and help you get in touch with the desert in a completely new desert transport!

Sand boarding

The sun and sand, that’s all you need for an adventure filled day out in the desert. The towering desert dunes are the perfect playground for some fun. Sandboarding is like snowboarding but it’s done in the desert. It involves rushing down from the sand dune peaks on a board. The sand boards made especially for this activity are suitable for attaining a safe speed as well as a thrilling experience. This is a unique activity and can only exclusively happen on the largest dunes of the Arabian Desert. The Hajar Mountains create the perfect backdrop for the desert and provide the perfect photo opportunity for you to climb up to the peak and slide down in euphoria!

Hot Air Ballooning

Watch the sunrise over the undulating desert landscape from a bird’s eye view, 4,000 ft up in the sky! A hot air balloon is the best way to soak in the sights of the desert. Take pleasure in the soaring sensation of gently floating to a height of 4,000 feet. As the desert landscape is dotted with sand dunes touching the horizon; you can look out for desert wildlife including camels, Arabian oryx and gazelles. As you are propelled higher up by experienced hot air balloon experts, the calmness of a smooth ride will give you the best view of the desert. As you watch the sunrise on the horizon, you will feel an adrenaline high like never before!

Traditional Bedouin Camp Experience

Once you are done with the adventure activities it’s time to sit, unwind and enjoy a pleasant buffet dinner with live Traditional Tanoura Dance performance followed by an entertaining Belly Dance show. The buffet dinner will have international cuisine from BBQ Platter to traditional Arabic cuisine like hummus, fattoush, lamb kebab, chicken kebab etc. You can also enjoy the complimentary Shisha. Almost all camps have the photoshoot option for you to try out the traditional Kandura dresses for men and Abaya for women.You can also try out a complimentary henna painting. 

Adventure Desert Safari Tips- Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s: 

  • Do wear loose and comfortable clothing when you partake in adventure sports in the desert. 
  • Do carry sun lotion and apply sunscreen and carry a cap and sunglasses to avoid the sunlight during the morning safaris. 
  • Do carry a lightweight jacket to avoid a chill as the temperature in the desert drops in the evening
  • Do wear open shoes, flip flops or sandals footwear because you are getting in and out of the vehicle frequently onto the sand.
  • Do listen to the instructors who are experienced professionals. If you have any medical ailments or previous medical history please tell the instructors. 
  • Do bring along your camera and take photographs as you will have many opportunities to stop and take pictures.
  • Do carry some money to shop for some souvenirs or to partake in additional desert activities like henna painting if it isn’t complimentary. 
  • Dune bashing can be a bit bumpy, so eat early in the day and avoid drinking too much water. Do adhere to the safety instructions before venturing into any adventure sport in the desert to prevent any encounters with any kind of accident.
  • Do avoid going for desert safaris during the months of Ramadan as you would not be able to see entertainment activities like Tanura and belly dance, smoke shisha or order alcoholic drinks during this time of the year.
  • Do call the police if you are stranded on police rescue number: 999

Don’ts:

  • Do not carry any valuables along with you as some cash and a camera is all you need for a fabulous time during a Dubai desert safari.
  • Do not wear flowing fabrics as you don’t want them to get caught in the adventure vehicles. 
  • There is no restriction on the type of clothing but don’t  wear formals as they are not comfortable. 
  • Do not be alarmed or stressed by short camel camel rides because they are animals and cannot be stressed beyond a point. Please be considerate towards them.
  • Dune Bashing, Quad Biking and Dune Buggy Riding can be physically demanding so do not eat a heavy meal prior to the activity or limit yourself to a light meal to avoid an upset stomach or motion sickness. 

Dubai is more well known for being the city with the tallest building in the world, the tallest hotel in the world and for the Miracle Garden- the world’s largest natural flower garden and so on. But to truly experience the modern infrastructure advancements, you need to step back into the history of the Arabian desert with red dunes climbing troughs and crests of ever shifting natural infrastructure that has indubiously influenced the city.  

The large desert, the camel rides and farms, the Bedouin camps, the traditional dances and photoshoots with the Kandura and Abaya are the traditional activities that will teach you more about the life the locals lived in the desert. On the other hand, you have all the modern amenities, adventure activities, dinner and entertainment which show you a different Dubai. Nothing defines Dubai better than this, and the photos you capture will do the same. 

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