It's been a few weeks since our last post - we've been hosting my family here and staying busy showing them all the sites of the UAE. My older brother and mom came over on his 34th birthday and he was ready to explore. The only real wish was, "I gotta see the desert." So we did that! Safari-style.
A desert safari in the UAE is a huge tourist attraction and rightfully so. They're typically a half-day (or even overnight camping) experience. You can hop on one in the morning or take the afternoon option for stunning sunset views. Jon insisted on picking one where we would see the great Arabian sunset on the dunes and we did just that. I booked online at about 60 bucks a person and Iqbal, our driver from Kerala, India was assigned to pick us up outside our apartment around 3pm.
A 7-seater SUV pulled up, and there was Iqbal sporting a Las Vegas baseball cap and ready to take us out on our adventure. Sidenote: he's never been to Vegas, but he reallllllly wants to. We picked up an Irish couple along the way once every seat was full - we were ready for the dune bashing.
Dune bashing is this:
And then holy shit, this:
You roll along the dunes for about 45 minutes all together with a stop in between at a camel farm. Here's what I'll tell you - the camels are out in the open. Don't be an idiot because they can kick. Also, you'd think sandals would be the best option for walking around on the sands and it is! Until you get to the camel farm. Then you're walking around a desert FULL of their poo. Never thought we'd be discussing poo on the blog here, but there was SO. MUCH. POO. And it's gross when you're walking around in open toed shoes trying to get a camel selfie. So yeah, bring an old pair of sneakers.
Next up was the Bedouin style campsite you remain at for the rest of the evening. Set up in the middle of nowhere (nowhere being the Rub’ Al Khali Desert), Iqbal parked the car and took us to our table in the sand equipped with pillows and all the water and soft drinks we would need. Beer and wine were also available at a separate charge. Before dinner, you have the options of sand boarding (think: snow boarding, yeah?), riding a camel, hopping on a 4-wheeler or simply walking up the dunes to check out the setting sun. The views are breathtaking and definitely a bucket list item to check off your list. Activities like henna tattoos, falcon holding, shisha and sipping on traditional Arabian coffee are among the other activities you can enjoy in the camp.
Dinner was served shortly after sundown and you get your mix of fresh salads, hummus, pita bread, tabbouleh, pasta, chicken and beef BBQ. It was delicious, a true Middle Eastern plate of munchies. Entertainment was provided by a certified bellydancer and the night concluded under the most visible star gazing you can imagine. If you visit the UAE and don’t include a safari on your itinerary, you definitely did it wrong.
We booked online through Emirates Tour and Safari LLC the day before – easy!
Wear or bring a pair of close-toed shoes for the camel farm stop.
Dress in layers – it can be warm during the day, but the desert does gets chilly at night!
Take a shower afterwards – you will find sand everywhere. Your ears, even!