Dubai Safari Experience

Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.

I’ve read a couple of fiction novels set in the desert in the past couple of years. Suddenly that all feels like some sort of preparation for this moment. I wasn’t expecting to get to experience being in the desert at any capacity anytime soon and was content with just reading about it, so just imagine my excitement! If I had to pick one favourite attraction from this trip, this would be it.

It would be a mistake to leave this emirate without going on a Dubai Desert Safari. I’d love to come back for other sand activities. I really would.

In a nutshell, the desert is one of the most unique locations I’ve ever been to, and the safari most definitely employs one of the most unforgettable methods to get there. If you’re planning to embark on a desert safari, I would suggest preparing yourself for one heck of a ride. Literally. Especially for first timers, I think you will find the journey quite something.

Standing in the desert was both different and at the same time exactly how I imagined. I am filled with awe and wonder, trying to compare the things I’ve seen in movies, read in books, from the actual sprawling terrain before me. In both versions there are camels slowly lumbering about, but here’s where reality gives a clearer picture of things: the ground isn’t a single earthy colour but a sometimes-red-sometimes-yellow-tinged sand so fine it melts through the spaces between your fingers.

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It seems like the sand is alive and moving along with the whims of the sun, and it makes me think all the more how similar this place is to the open sea. Obvious dissimilarities aside, water may reflect the sun’s rays to make it shine like spilled diamonds, but the sand… Well it seems to copy the sun’s mood more than anything.

I did a little light reading about geography so I have a bit of an idea about sand dunes or slipfaces and stuff like that. The sand dunes become more impressive the deeper into the Arabian desert you go, usually where the wind blows more fiercely. Enjoy the dune buggy desert safari Dubai.

We’re lucky to experience the desert in what Dubai refers to as their “winter”. That is the first thing that pops into my head as I take my first step into the desert, feeling the cool breeze brush against my cheek. I am positive I would hate to be here in the summer. We ride on paved roads from the city for about 30 to 40 minutes until we enter the area where concrete meets sand.

‘This is the real beginning of the desert adventure,’ I think to myself. Of course, I was right.

Our destination is an Arabian camp somewhere in the middle of the desert, but before that we get to have a feel of the place as we park at one of the designated stops. Actually this is where our drivers prepare the van for the safari.

Our rides are small 4×4 vans that can fit 6 people, plus the driver. Before driving out to the desert the wheels are seemingly deflated to be able to handle the bumpy and soft terrain a little better. Wheels that are firm enough for city roads simply will not do here.

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At the start of the safari, the sandy terrain is rather even and the ride is rather calm, but the deeper you go into the desert the wilder the ride becomes. I’m talking about your butt floating a few inches above your seat in some instances. Imagine riding an enclosed roller coaster that hurtles left and right rather sharply at every turn. You have to hold on to your seats and make sure you strap yourself in. I wouldn’t call it scary, but I’m not going to lie: You might need a doggie bag just in case you get major nausea.

I think you’ll get a better idea of what I’m talking about if you watch my travel video down below. The desert safari is at the 3:50 mark.

The drivers are fantastic at navigating the terrain, but it can be an extremely dizzying experience. Just remember to take deep breaths until you get to another pitstop. I find if you look out to the distance and watch the other jeeps fly through the terrain you’d be shocked that you just drove through those major humps and dips as well! It’s like watching an ant climb up and around half a ball.

The second stop is way deeper into the desert already. I can’t remember clearly but it must’ve been at least 20 minutes away from the last stop. In this one the driver let us stay a lot longer so we can “play” before the sun sets. Nothing extreme like sandboarding or biking, but more like running up the slipface of a sand dune and sitting on top, posing for photos. Haha!

By the time we left stop #2, the sun was quickly fusing with the horizon. Hurriedly we boarded our vans and drove towards the camp. This third stop isn’t as far as the first two thankfully, and by this time I guess I was beginning to get used to the way the car jerks me about. The return trip was nothing. (I’m starting to sound like an adrenaline junkie.)

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AT THE CAMP

I had to capitalize on the very last of sunlight that was left when we arrived at the gates of the desert camp at overnight desert. I remember I had a tough time taking decent photos of the horizon and the camel.

The camel-ride is totally optional, and I didn’t bother with it though it was nice seeing a camel up close. It smelled not so nice but what did I expect? I was more excited for the camp though. It’s such a great immersive idea to be there, I think.

Inside the camp it feels kind of like a fair. There are long rows of dining tables set atop a long carpet with pillows for chairs. At the center of the camp is a stage. There are booths/huts for food and coffee (and booze), one for henna tattoos, plus an open area to smoke shisha (with juice!) to your heart’s content. Actually it feels like a fair and a mini-community at the same time.

Can you imagine what it might’ve been like in the old days, when the locals engaged in these sorts of activities in this kind of setting too? I’m always the sort who fills in the blanks with my imagination so sometimes I end up more enthusiastic than other people, which is always a good thing when traveling.

At this point I can’t help but feel like I’m stepping into one of those desert stories.

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