If you love warm days with lots of sunshine, beautiful architecture and gorgeous beaches on the Persian Gulf, then put Dubai on your bucket list! Dubai is one, out of seven emirates that make up The United Arab Emirates. Being home to 2.789 million people, Dubai is the largest, most populated city of the Emirates. It’s located in the Arabian Desert and some neighboring countries include Saudi Arabia and Oman. An estimated 13.2 million people travel to Dubai each year to see its stunning, record breaking architecture, beautiful, sunny beaches, and desert safaris!
Dubai, an oasis in desert.
Dubai safari is very different from African safari. You won’t see savannahs full of zebras or lakes full of hippos sittnig in a safari vehicle. Instead, you’ll experience dune bashing in miles of sandy dunes, camel rides, sand boarding and incredible entertainment such as Arabian belly dancing.
A camel caravan takes tourists on the more traditional Camel safari.
The desert safaris in Dubai don’t take place right in the city. A driver will pick you up from where ever you’re staying and drive you out of the city. Typically, the drive is an hour or more but what comes next is well worth the wait! Dubai is surrounded by deserts so depending on where the camp is will determine where you will go. Once your safari is over, you’ll be taken back to your hotel or where ever you’re staying, by the same driver that picked you up. If you are seeking more thrill, perhaps you can go on a quad safari in Dubai.
A land cruiser seen rolling over dunes during a Dubai desert safari.
Desert safaris have a lot of different options. There’s morning safaris, evening safaris, and overnight safaris. Within these different safaris, are different activities so keep that in mind when booking. In a morning safari, a professional driver will pick you up from your hotel in the safari vehicle. They’ll take you through the desert dune bashing and you’ll get the chance to ride a camel and sand ski. This safari is generally two hours long. Evening safaris are a very popular in Dubai. The driver will pick you up and take you dune bashing and when that’s done, they’ll take you to a camel farm. Then you’ll have the chance to watch the sunset before reaching your camp. When you get to your camp, you’ll get the chance to ride a camel, sand board, and have someone give you a henna design. To finish the safari, you’ll have dinner and watch belly dancers perform around a campfire underneath the star filled sky. A belly dancing show is very popular among both evening safaris and overnight safaris. The evening safari is typically six hours long. The overnight safari includes everything that the morning and evening safaris include plus more! You’ll be offered traditional costumes and all food and drink is included. The campsite you’ll be staying at provides you with sleeping bags and blankets for night so you can leave your camp gear at home! All safaris offer some type of meal. Morning safaris usually offer lunch, evening safaris offer dinner and overnight safaris offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can choose to remove the meal from your morning or evening safari, which does reduce the cost, but it’s recommended that you keep the meal so you stay energized in the hot desert.
I know what you’re thinking, “This all sounds great but how can I afford it?” Let me tell you, these safaris are VERY affordable! A morning or evening safari can cost anywhere from 180-550 Emirati Dirham per person (which is around $50-$100 U.S. dollars). Overnight safaris can cost anywhere from 620-2200 Emirati Dirham (which is around $170-$600 U.S. dollars) per person. Remember, not all safaris are the same. They have different package options and are different lengths so depending on what you’d like to experience, will determine your price.
You’ll be doing all these outdoor activities, here are a few recommendations on what to wear/bring. It’s recommended that you limit what you bring since the safari SUV’s don’t have a lot of bag space within them so if you’re staying in a hotel and taking part in any safari, ONLY BRING ESSENTIALS and leave the rest at the hotel! You don’t want to be crammed while you’re going top speeds in the middle of the desert. It’s suggested that you wear comfortable clothes no matter who you are. Guys are recommended to wear shorts or loose pants. Women can wear pants and a T shirt or a traditional outfit called Salwar Kamiz. Some safaris offer you traditional clothing to wear but it is totally optional. You should only bring sandals since you’ll be in the desert and you don’t want to worry about getting sand out of your shoes!
A family garbed in traditional clothes.
Dubai does have a dress code among men and women. See through clothing is not allowed. Also, bathing suits worn anywhere but the pool or beach are not allowed. Women also need to be dressed appropriately. Yes, it will be hot but you cannot be walking around looking indecent wearing a crop top and short shorts. For men, shorts must not be any higher than the knee and a bare chest is not allowed anywhere but the beach or pool. You may be asked to leave wherever you are if you’re not dressed accordingly or look inappropriate so just be cautious in your wardrobe choice.
Desert safaris sound intense, is it safe or a good idea to bring young children or even infants? The answer is yes and no. Most safari tours will accommodate younger children and offer car seats to be rented for dune bashing. Depending on the company or tour, there may be an age limit so always double check before arriving. Dune bashing is safe and the drivers are professionals, however, you’ll be going top speeds, whipping around the desert. Younger children may get scared, cry, or even get sick during the tour. Some tours offer kid friendly activities and others do not. You may also be able to skip on the dune bashing and stay at the camp if your children do not want to participate. Check with the camp because all camps are different.
Luxury desert safaris are very common within Dubai. They offer a wide range of activities and cater to all ages. One of the most popular, luxury desert safari is Platinum Heritage. Platinum Heritage runs all year around but some of the options are only available during a certain part of the year. Your accommodation during the luxury safari will be in a private oasis called the Royal Desert Retreat within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The retreat offers a falconry demonstration and instead of dune bashing, which can be harmful to the environment, Platinum Heritage offers a safe, relaxed, wildlife spotting drive through the dunes. They also offer hot air balloon rides, helicopter tours, an astronomy experience, and of course, a camel safari.
Dubai desert Oryx.
Dubai’s desert safaris offer many different options to experience the beauty of the city. Desert safaris can either be an adrenaline rush or calm and relaxing. There is a lot of culture and fun mixed in to any of the different safaris and it’s an experience you’ll not want to miss.