Dubai desert safari experience

Photo Credits: Haris Khan / Unsplash

If you ask me to list down the things you cannot miss in Dubai, the desert safari experience is listed for sure. I landed in Dubai aiming to stay in the world’s tallest building, skydive, and experience a dune bash in the desert. Although I was able to stay at the Armani hotel and take part in a desert safari tour, I was not able to skydive. To be honest, I was simply too scared.

Dubai is a special place among all other cities because of its insanity. From the world’s tallest building to the only 7-star hotel in the world, Dubai has a lot to offer to the ones who are as crazy as the city itself. After a short drive away from modern Dubai, you’ll find dunes of golden sand that beautifully amalgamate the preserved culture and traditions of the city with its craziness. The desert safari tour is a must, during your visit to Dubai.

My experience

After experiencing the luxury Armani Hotel, the next thing on my list was the desert safari. I browsed online and found a guide who picked me up from the hotel in a Land Cruiser and headed towards the desert. I chose the evening package so that I would be able to enjoy the sand dunes from every aspect. The journey started at around 3.30 pm and we drove away from the busy city till we reached the mandatory stop area to refresh before going into the deep desert.

The driver deflated the tires and we were ready for the very first activity, dune dashing. The thrilling 4×4 dune dash felt scarier than a roller coaster ride. But I didn’t have to worry much, since my driver was an experienced person who has been doing the job for more than eight years. We made stops on top of several tall dunes that showed us nothing but more dunes of sand. However, the 4×4 alone wasn’t enough for me as I wanted to experience riding. Therefore, I opted for a quad bike ride too.

After surviving the extreme rides across the desert, we landed at the VIP camp for some refreshment. We had Arabic coffee known as ‘Gawwa,’ along with some delicious traditional sweets, and dates. The camels were waiting to take me for a relaxing spin around the area, and I was able to take some pictures for Instagram as well. I then got into the Arabic traditional outfit, which is the thawb and the scarf, and headed towards the camp to indulge in the traditional activities.

I sat on a comfy couch and started off with a shisha (hookah) session while listening to the romantic Arabic tunes. The feast included a wide spread of BBQ and other Arabic food such as naan and kebabs, and I’d say the food was just amazing. While enjoying the meal, the belly dancers appeared to show their talents, and the performance was followed by an astonishing fire show that looked as if the person breathed out fire.

After a busy and exciting day, it was time for a post-meal drive across the desert, and back to the hotel. It was around 10 pm when I reached my hotel.

Which time is the best?

There are many tour companies that offer a variety of services ranging from a mere dune bash to an overnight stay in the desert. Whether you love to see the picturesque moments of sunrise over the golden sands or witness the sunset from the dunes, there are packages that offer each experience.

Morning Tour

The morning package is ideal if you are looking for a quick glimpse of the desert. It starts at around 8 AM and usually lasts for around 4 to 6 hours, depending on the activities you choose. However, there is a sunrise package that starts earlier. The morning package focuses mostly on thrilling activities like dune bashing, along with traditional breakfast and sweets. Regardless of the times, the skilled 4×4 drivers and the other staff delivery a truly unique experience that is hard to forget. The desert is mostly empty in the mornings and it would be ideal for a disturb-free 4×4 ride.

Evening Tour

If you are someone like me, eager to squeeze out every bit of excitement, the evening package is what you need to go for. The exhilarating voyage includes pickup and drop-off services and heart-pounding activities. You get to experience the Emirati culture as well. I believe this is rather the authentic Dubai dessert tour. After the adrenaline rush, you could relax by the camp sipping a cup of Arabic coffee with some high-quality dates, and enjoy the rest of the traditional offerings. Once you have collected enough memories for the night, the guide will drop you off at your hotel or place of stay.

Overnight stay

If you want to go the extra mile just, the overnight package is a must. This tour offers you the privilege to mesmerize the stunning sunset and sunrise. After the heavy dinner and entertainment, it’s time for bed. But how about a chill 4×4 session on the dunes before going to bed? You will be taken to the highest dunes in the Lahbab desert and will experience the cold breeze that wipes away all the remaining stress.

All the sleeping gear will be provided by your tour guide and all you have to do is say goodnight and count the stars before you fall asleep. The next morning you wake up to the stunning sunrise and wrap up the tour with breakfast.

Arabic traditions

After you have finished exploring the desert, it is time to encounter the cultural activities first-hand. This includes henna tattooing, a temporary body art that is mostly used by women. You could also enjoy a chill shisha (hookah) session, wear traditional attire, and watch the belly dancer’s performance. The vibrance is further enhanced by the amazing fire show which too makes you go WOW! While you are delighted by the performance, the organizers prepare a traditional spread of meals along with BBQ that makes your tummy full.

What are activities to take part?

4×4 bashing

Dune bashing is the most anticipated activity in the desert. The insanely skilled drivers will rev up to the hills and suddenly glide down in their Land Cruisers or other 4x4s. It’s an experience that is hard to be put into words. The safari jeeps are fitted with mods that give them the extra power to deliver the thrill. The ride usually lasts for around 40 minutes but the event will be remembered for your life.

Quad bike riding

If 4x4s are too extreme, you could opt for a quad bike session which allows you to maneuver it through the thick dunes of sand. You need not worry about safety as long as you are above 16 years old.


Similar to snowboarding, sandboarding is yet another activity that allows you to slide down the sand dunes by standing on a board that is fastened to your feet. It’s an exercise that tests your balancing skills.

Camel rides

Camels have played a major role in transportation across the region in the past, and the rides portray the life of Emiratis before discovering oil. In addition to the shaky ride, taking photos with the convoy of camels is a great souvenir.

Tip for a smooth experience

  • Don’t go with a full stomach or drink too much water as it would be uncomfortable during dashing.
  • Charge your phone and don’t forget you camera, because you will miss a lot of valuable memories
  • Make sure you listen and adhere to the instrucitons given by the guides, especially if the culture is new to you.
  • I recommend wearing loose clothes that cope with the warm weather, and make sure you wear a pair of sunglassess to prevent sand from entering your eyes.

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