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During our visit to Dubai we were keen to get out into the nearby desert, so we pre-booked a half-day trip with a company called Arabian Adventures, who run a daily "Sundowner" tour. We were picked up from our hotel by a 4WD that seated 6 (plus the driver), stopping off at a nearby hotel to pickup the rest of the group. On the way to the desert, we swung by Sheik Mohammad’s Palace - well, drove down the entrance road towards the palace, where we could see loads of peacocks strutting their stuff.
Then it was off to the desert, about 30 minutes drive away. On the way we learned that our car was one of around 40 that Arabian Adventures had out that day, and that we would be driving in convoy once we hit the sand.
Arriving in the desert, we had to wait for most of the other cars to arrive, which gave us time to scramble up a small sand dune and take arty photos of sand, and some camels in the distance. Soon is was time to head off for some fun driving on the sand dunes - like being on a roller coaster but no corkscrews.
The duning was fun, and thankfully no one in our car got sick (I drugged up before hand), nor did we get stuck in the sand or have any other incidents to report. After a couple of stops along the way - for photos, camels, and sunset - we arrived at the desert camp where we dined in Bedouin tents (on surprisingly tasty food) and were entertained by belly dancers.
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Sheikh Mohammed's Peacocks
One interesting thing we did during our time in Dubai was to have a sneaky peak at the front of Sheikh Mohammad's Palace. We were on the way to our desert safari, and the driver said he would take us on a slight detour to drive past the residence on the way.
You can't actually go into the palace grounds, but can drive up the private road to the gates. The main draw card here is not the palace itself, but the large number of peacocks that line the private road. I have never seen so many peacocks in the one place, strutting their stuff.
This seemed to be a popular place for a drive by for all the tour companies - there was a constant flow of gawkers like us. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any good photos as I was sitting on the wrong side of the car.
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Desert Safari...and other tours.
Anyone who has been to Dubai will most likely recommend this activity. Its, no doubt, touristy but no to miss.
Especially if youve never seen desert before and you like to get a roller coaster ride in a 4WD between the sand dunes.
The tour usually include transport to and from the desert, visit at a "beduin" camp with food, bellydancing, henna tattoing, shisha smoking, a visit at a camel farm, short camel ride at the camp and maybe there will be dune buggies available...
Here is a bit of guidance of which company to chose:
Ive done the tour twice but with different companies.
My boyfriend repeated the first chosen company, "East Tours" because of our first time experince. Our guide, and managing director, Ali Solaimani explained us about fauna and anything else we wanted to know about. He was friendly and informative.
The bellydancer was better with "East".
However, my second experience with Knight tours was less succesful. still good, just not AS good.
Reason why is that the guide hardly spoke english, it was almost impossible to ask questions he understood.
Then the company had told me a falcon show would be included - all there was was a glaring falcon, no show.
Dont expect to get a 4WD to your selves - they are filled up most of the time. If interested in doing sandboarding or skiing request it with the tour operator, and bring proper shoes.
Vegetarian food is available.
Remember that the desert can get cold at night....
Other trips to Hatta and the East Coast can be arranged, overnight safaries, horseriding, sailing and city tours.
Prices vary depending on the season. You can even bargain a better price during the summer low season.
Judge for yourself!
East Tours: 04-3555677 www.holidayindubai.com
Knight Tours: 04-2686555 www.knighttours.net.ae
Arabian Adventures: 04-3034888
Desert Rangers: 04-3402408
Desert Tour - Dune Bashing with the professionals
My mother is a tour guide and whe usually gives me some "insider information". Understandibly, with the recent boom in tourism there's a lot of work for her!
Most tour operators organize an pretty exciting variety of excursions & tours around the Emirates & Oman, for large groups & invididuals, sight-seeing tours in the cities & even ocean cruises. Check with your tour operator to assist you with your choice of hotel, and also in case you need to apply for a visit visa.
Most agencies run the "standard tourist programs", but prices tend to vary by quite a bit, so it pays to "shop around" & compare.
Many tour operators offer Desert Safaris (only camera shots!) eiter for 1/2 days, full days or overnight stays with dinner & entertainment in their respective desert camps. If you get sick easily, bring travel-sickness tablets... it gets rough & bouncy! :-)
A typical Desert Safari will start in the afternoon with some driving through the dunes & end at the respective organizer's desert camp where you will be treated to a buffet dinner, sand boarding, camel riding, music, drinks & belly dancing. For example: We have spent New Year's Eve and various other events at the SNTTA Camp & had a great time! (Don't worry: there are fully functional toilets with tiled floors & wash basins.)
Here's a list of reputable tour operators:
SNTTA Emir Tours:
Tel +971-4-282 9000
Arabian Adventures: (part of Emirates Airlines)
Tel +971-4-303 4888
Tel +971-4-224 2800
Tel +971-4-266 6655
Do you want to take the wheel into your own hands?
Go on! Rent a 4x4 car & be daring!
Click here for info & safety tips:
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Desert Jeep Safari
You are picked up in a 4WD vehicle and transported to the sand dunes where you are taken on a hair raising jeep ride complete with wheel spins and turns! There are photo stops to admire the sunset before you are driven to the desert camp for a buffet meal (soft drinks are free, but alcohol is usually charged for) complete with belly dancer, camel rides, dressing up in traditional outfits, quad-biking (extra charge), falcon interaction, sand-boarding and henna tattoo painting. Activities do vary between companies.
Companies that I have used are Arabian Adventures - www.arabian-adventures.com
and Arabian Nights - www.arabiannightstours.com - both of which were very good.
Tours run daily and you can be picked up at your hotel or any known landmark here in Dubai. We were picked up around 2.30pm and were back at our hotel around 9.30pm. The desert safari is probably my favourite touristy thing to do here in Dubai and I highly recommend it.
DESERT SAFARI - A MUST
For travelers who have never seen the desert before...this is a must.
The best thing is to book an excursion from the hotel or one of the tour operators. They usually pick you up from the hotel around 0300pm and take you on a four wheel drive in the rolling dunes through the Dubai Desert.
They will give you time to stop and see the camels and bed wins. And later on take you to the traditional Arabian camps. The atmosphere is amazing and so relaxing. Enjoy the aromatic shisha & Relax on conformable low cushions, have your hand painted with henna, take pictures with a traditional Arabian costume. And sample the traditional Arabian food. The desert is so beautiful; I never saw so many stars in my life!!
Dunes for dummies!
This is a popular and dare-to-do thing in Dubai.It's an adrenalin pumper,a stomach churner and thrill seeker..especially if your jeep driver is a daredevil!We hung out of our seatbelts,over our sides and our faces were inches away from the sand outside of our windows!
This is the Arabian Adventure Desert Safari tour that takes you a dune ride into the desert to watch the sun set.It's beautiful and breathtaking!
you visit a camel ranch on the way and finally spend the rest of the evening enjoying a Bedouin style buffet dinner in the heart of the desert.A wonderfully agile bellydancer entertains and amuses,while one can get henna tattoos done,talk to the falconer,or perhaps even ride a camel into the darkness....
Just enquire about this at your hotel once you get to Dubai.It's famous!
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My most memorable activity in Dubai is - sorry you're wrong it's not shopping but - desert safari. I booked the tour through the hotel and in order not to favour any company in here, I will not provide any telephone number nor a Website because I've been to various hotels in Dubai and there's absolutely no problem in booking a desert safari. The hotels offer this tour!
The tour includes a hotel pick-up drop off. Don't be dismayed if the vehicle is a van or maybe a car. Tour agencies dealing in desert safari have been in the business for ages so nothing to worry, everything will turn out fine.
The right number of guests - as to location of the hotel or as to grouping (families or friends) - will be assigned to this type of vehicle which will remind you of Ferrari's speed and the temperament of the Arab drivers. Well the driver may not be an Arab but just the same, the desert itself will remind you of UAE's beauty.
The travel agent has a program that will make the desert safari spectacular - at least to many. After seeing some beautiful Flamingos along the highway, you and a couple of other groups will travel to the desert and will comprise the Fearless Convoy of the Moment. You will not believe how fast and how high those vehicles can go, stopping abruptly at the edge of the hill when you least expect them, making the vehicles hang like a weighing scale trying to find its equilibrium. There will be a number of stops where you will catch your breath and when you think you're about to die, the drivers bring you to a height where everything around you is orange - the sand, the sky and their faces too. Sunset in the UAE, truly awesome - you have to see it. And when you think you want to pay the Travel Agents more because of the highs you've just had, they bring the entire group to another place where some camels and tents await you. Those who just threw up during the trip may decide to look for the bathroom or to just have photos taken with camels or in Arab clothes. Others, specially the women, will have their hands painted with henna for free, the men will most likely grab the water pipe and those who could not care less about the things I mentioned will follow their noses to the great-smelling buffet that has been carefully set for them.
And when everybody's almost tired of chatting while watching the stars and the sky - comes the music and lo - a beautiful bellydancer! I was totally happy during this experience but now when I look back - I am wondering why there was no male bellydancer? Well, at least there was tea, coffee and Baklava before we started our way back to the city.
What I regret about the desert safari is that I did not have a digital camera at that time. And if I do the tour again, I'll make sure I won't eat anything one hour before.
Cost of the tour per person is around US$ 55 (all-inclusive). Pick-up is around 3:30 p.m. and drop-off is around 9:30 p.m.
An alternative to a desert safari is sunset camel trekking. Costing AED400 it includes pick up from your hotel or residence, cold water, the 1 1/2 hour trek on the camels, and then a BBQ dinner at a Bedouin camp with a belly dancer, shisha pipes, and henna painting all thrown in. Alcohol is also available for purchase at the camp.
Although I enjoyed the camels, I prefer dune bashing! It's a good alternative for those who don't like to be thrown around in a 4WD but who still want the desert experience. It is of course a completely touristy thing to do but hey, we all need a little bit of that every now and again!
Trips to the desert in groups can be a great way to meet other people. The 4X4 action can be rather rough, so it's better to inform you about it, before you get starting. The best is to take the half day safari, they will pick you up from your hotel in the afternoon,and a barbecue dinner in the evening is included.
One of the main tourist attractions in Dubai would have to be the Desert Safari. At around AED 170 it is quite good value for almost a whole day out.
The tour (in a 4WD) will pick you up from your accommodation around 3pm and from there you drive around 40 minutes into the Desert. All drinks and snacks are provided.
Depending on your tour the following is usually included in the tour:
Dune Bashing in a 4WD (not for weak tummies!!)
Sand Skiing (very fun!)
Visit a camel farm
Visit a goat farm
Desert camp - includes BBQ dinner, henna painting, shisha pipe smoking, local coffee and delicacies and a belly dancing show.
All drinks and snacks.
The tour will finish at around 11pm and will leave you feeling happy, tired, sandy and with a feeling of doing something worthwhile.
I definitely recommend this!!
There are many tour companies that run this tour daily. Shop around to find the one with the best price and deal.
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Desert safari trip - part 1
This is a must do activity for a tourist. If the weather is good (not recommended during summer months) then you will enjoy this very much. Plan with a group or as a couple and u will come back feeling the money and time worth spent. But since i am alone...nothing much to complaint hahaha..i got the driver as my personal guide since others are so much attached to their other half...hmm...anyway it was great fun..It started at 4pm.Driver cum guide picked us up at 4 pm from each of our hotel, then drive to the desert safari area. Took about an hour to arrive there at the start point where all other drivers also will wait there for others to arrive. After half hour or so...we kick off with sun daze where the driver will show off their skills driving on the desert sand...its an experience not to be missed...feels like in the roller coaster and feel your stomach wana throw up...so please remember do not eat too much before you go...
This is some activity that I recommend to everyone.
It is lots of fun to hop in the 4x4 and ride on the dunes.
In our case, we were recommended Lama Tours and that is the agency we used but there are more and everyone of them offers different things.
Ours included a trip on the dunes and a dinner and party in a "bedouin village". Unfortunately, as it was Ramadan, the party was quite contained and some things like the belly dancing or the music were supressed.
Quite a shame but I still enjoyed it, we had a fantastic BBQ, we could have a henna tatoo and ride a camel and as I say, overall is an enjoyable experience but it is not much of a party if you go in Ramadan, so bear this in mind when you book.
The cost was aprox. 40 GBP per person.
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There are some agencies which organize half day desert safaries with 4x4's. You only call them them at least one day before and tell them the hotel they stay. They appear at about 3 pm and take you with the 4x4 jeeps.
The whole tour takes about 6 hours. Dinner with the belly dance show is included which happens in a sort of bedouin settlement in the middle of the desert.
In our case the organization was Planet tours. We paid 250 UAE dirhems which is about 70 US $'s. The jeeps were Toyota Land cruisers. It was worth and fun but the organization had problems like the people who were in our jeep wanted the whole jeep for theimselves for a reason which only god knows why. so we were transferred to another one and on the way back also we were a victim of our jeep drivers courtesy to our share mates. He wanted to drop them first to their beloved shopping mall and we had an unvoluntary Dubai tour for about 1 hour.
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Sand dunes and Milky Way
If you are in Dubai any time except during the summer, make sure you plan to spend at least one day in the desert. For the most basic formula, ask you hotel concierge to get you on a desert safari. It basically involves you joining an organised tour for a day out to the desertic area South East of Dubai.
You will be picked up form your hotel by a 4x4. You will then be driven to the desert where, after a bit of dune bashing, you will have the opportunity to take pictures and basically enjoy the place. You will then be driven to a bedouin camp for the evening meal of Arabic mezze. The evening also involves a belly dancing demonstration, sheesha pipes and the opportunity to ride a camel. The most amazing moment, at least for those used to city life and temperate climates, is when all lights are switched off to enable you to see the starlit sky and the Milky Way, being away from any articficial light and under a completely clear sky.
If you want to do something more than just get this quick introduction to the desert, all tour operators have an extensive array of options to choose from, such as overnight stay in the moutains, sand surfing, etc. However, for those, they will usually require that you be in a group of at least 3 or 4 people.
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