The one thing that was on my list months before visiting Dubai was to head out on a Desert Safari. And not just anyone. Out of all the great Dubai excursions to choose from, I wanted to go on the best desert safari Dubai I could find (which is why I did a lot of research prior to the trip). I had read in advance that different travel companies would take you on tours where you’d get to go dune bashing, camel riding and more – followed by an amazing dinner out in the desert, and knew that I had to go on one of these excursions while I was in Dubai.
Of course, there are loads of other Dubai excursions too, such as day trips to Abu Dhabi and days out where you can get scuba diving certified (read about my experience getting certified here). One of the Dubai excursions I now wish we would have gone on includes getting to spend a day on a luxury yacht (this one!). However, we went for what, in my opinion, was the best desert safari in Dubai.
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Our Experience booking our Dubai excursions
We booked an Evening Desert Safari with a company aptly named Desert Safari Dubai. When you book you get to pick between having a private or a shared car. As there were three of us, we opted for a private car. Either way, the car picks you up from your hotel (which is super convenient, and one of the reasons we were so happy with the Dubai excursions we ended up picking). We paid 1,100 AED (approx. 300 USD) and felt like this was completely worth it considering all that was included.
Please note that prices depend on the season and availability, and can of course change since our visit. With the Dubai excursions company we chose you have to contact them for a quote. You can find their website here, or book one of the many desert safaris below! I do recommend booking in advance to ensure availability.
(The Best) Desert Safari Dubai: Our experience
As mentioned, we were picked up at our hotel by our private car, and also dropped off there at the end of the night. This was a big plus in our books, as we didn’t have to bother with transport and addresses. I believe this is the case for most of the Dubai desert safaris, but do confirm it as you book to be sure.
Our driver, whose name sounded a lot like Shere-Khan (I actually asked “like in the Jungle Book??”, but he just laughed at me, so we’ll never know), was incredibly helpful. He told us at the beginning of the 40-minute drive out to the desert that we could ask him anything we wanted about Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and their culture, and we did.
When we made it to the desert we were supposed to wait for the other cars, but Shere-Khan (and ourselves) couldn’t be bothered to waste time. So we hit the dunes, and boy was it a bumpy ride! We screamed and squealed and had a couple of minor heart attacks along the way. It was incredibly scary, and at one point the front of our car hit the ground hard on the way down a steep hill.
I asked if that could be considered a crash, Shere-Khan answered “No, that was only bumper.“
(And thus he ended any confusion we may have had about the incident during our Dubai excursion in the desert)
Amidst trying not to pee ourselves and holding on to our seats for dear life (seriously, it was so bumpy) we took in the stunning views of the desert. It was such an incredible feeling to be surrounded by nothing but sand, and I got proper Aladdin vibes throughout the drive, and as the sun started to set.
We stopped to take photos as the sun started setting, and our driver was incredibly patient as we tried to get the perfect jumping shot in the desert. I’m sure he was judging us hard, but at least he wasn’t showing it (one of the reasons I dare call this the best desert safari Dubai). I’ll admit I was feeling a little queasy from the drive, and it was also nice to have a stop to get some fresh air and relax a little before we drove to the camp for the evening.
Also, excuse the poor quality of the photos. This was before my obsession with Instagram became serious.
Side note: Do consider booking one of the many fun Dubai excursions if you have time. If you are only in the city on a stopover, here is a great guide to Dubai in a day!
Once we got to the camp, we quickly learned that there were camels there. Participants of the different Dubai excursions (there were several excursions sharing a camp, it seemed) got to greet them and pet them, and also ride them. This was optional, and those who chose to ride the camels were led around in a circle with the camels all tied together in a train, which I must admit was a little disappointing. It felt (and looked like) like a bunch of 10-year-old at riding camp, in my opinion
Update added: It has been a few years since my trip to Dubai, and I have since taken a strong stance against any form of animal tourism. I do not encourage anyone to participate in camel riding activities, and looking back I cannot say that we were convinced of the welfare of the animals (even though they looked healthy). When I book a desert safari in the future, it will not be one including camel riding if I can avoid it. So don’t @ me in the comments, I know animal tourism is bad.
Then, we entered the desert camp, where we would be served a traditional buffet with unlimited soft drinks. Shere-Khan quickly gave us our table number, told us where we could get drinks and informed us of where we could find him if we needed anything. During the buffet, he also brought our table extra spring rolls (not all the food options were traditional to the Emirati culture), which was a great plus in the eyes of three hungry girls.
The entertainment during dinner consisted of an Egyptian dancer who spun around in a colourful skirt and a belly dancer. I have later learned more about the spinning number and learned that this is called Sufi Whirling, and is a form of active meditation. It was definitely more interesting in hindsight, so if you do go on one of the Dubai excursions that include Sufi Whirling, read up on it before you go.
The belly dancing was great fun to watch, and definitely fascinating, and received loud cheering from the male part of the crowd. Not that we weren’t transfixed as well, those women had skills!
Dinner was, as mentioned, in form of a buffet, and it wasn’t bad at all. My favourite part of it all was when my friend faceplanted in the sand with her plate of food in front of the entire queue of people. It was priceless, and I wish I had my camera for it. In the end, our driver actually brought her food to the table (he really was the best).
After dinner, we were taken straight back to our hotel (we stayed here) and concluded that it had been a very successful evening. My favourite part was definitely the dune bashing and sunset photo-op! I now have a Facebook cover photo that rocks, and it may or may not be the background photo on my iPhone as well..
We had such a great day doing the desert safari, and it was definitely my favourite of the Dubai excursions we chose (here’s all about our day spent at Atlantis The Palm).
I would also like to extend an apology to Shere-Khan, as I am sure that is not at all how you spell his name (and probably not what it is either). We had a great time, thank you!
Here are some great Dubai excursions to chose from for your trip!
Make sure to book your tour in advance to guarantee a space.