For The Best in Dubai Dessert Safaris
Updated: Jan 31
A private chef, a personal butler, à la carte meals and a spot of volleyball played on sand speckled with gold dust are the least you would expect from a desert safari....
...In Dubai, a destination, famous for converting its desert sands into a glitzy garden of high rise buildings. From the iconic to the infamous, to the most luxurious, to the unbelievable, it's all in Dubai. Skiing, skydiving, zip-lining over an urban city are all ordinary everyday list of attractions in this Emirate.
Adding lustre to the list must be the not-to-be-missed experience of an Arabian desert safari. With this being Dubai, these are the grand dames of desert safaris. Where a Range Rover is the transportation de rigueur and having your own private chef is as ordinary as spotting oryxes.
Ahmed (our driver) arrives ten minutes before time. As the vehicle's door opens the unmistakable scent of oud rides out on a traditional Arabic rhythm. He greets us with ice-cold bottles of water, an unplaced accent and Oxford University's English.
Forty-five minutes into the drive and there is a world-renowned city skyline somewhere behind us but there is nothing to show for it. Instead, the bronze sands of the Arabian desert sprawls like a lazy morning in bed and endlessly like the farmlands of the Canadian prairies around us.
Ahmed tells us we are nearly there and the exhilaration gauge rises but nothing compared to the moment the shemagh was wrapped on my head. It feels as if the shemagh is the genie that makes it all happen.
A quick photo stop as the sun begins its final descent. Even as the sun begins to set, the heat still carries it's drunkening effect.
A climb to the top of a sand dune only ten feet high in the drunken heat and the sinking sand underfoot results in an unwinnable race but barrels of laughter! This sand dune summit is achieved and the reward is - an ocean! An ocean of sand dunes! Save for the haze in the distance, the picture in the frame is a pristine, undulating landscape of golden sands.
What was approximately a ten-foot climb on one side is a descent double that on the other side of the dune. The sun glints a smile at the top of the dunes and each dune, in turn, casts a shadow on the dune behind it!
'The sun sets quickly at this time of the year' says Ahmed as the 4x4 climbs it's the first dune.
I am unsure if the statement was made as an initial distraction. As the next twenty minutes was spent, eyes shut, relocation of the stomach to the mouth and an unforgiving bashing of the dunes.
Sat in the next seat all that time, was the younger version of myself squealing with the thrill of each stomach-churning, spaceless drop where I dared not open my eyes, mouth or even breathe.
'Try the sandboarding,' he said 'You will find it much more fun!'
It must have been beginners' luck as the first attempt was a glide through like the 'Usain Bolt' of sandboards. The magic carpet was pulled after that, as it simply fell apart. What followed was no end of face plants, belly flops and cheese rolls. For all that, it truly was very entertaining for those watching.
It is the middle of the desert, the sun has now set and the air, comfortably cooler. The glow from the lamps in the distance become more prominent. A melodious tune wraps around you as the smell of barbecue hangs in the evening air. The magic carpets pulled earlier are now covered with seats and cushions on the desert floor and a campfire crackles nearby. An inviting seat for the Arabic coffee and dates that followed.
Another party takes a seat on the adjoining carpet. The campfire lights up each other's faces with each hysterical recount of the others' sand dune and sandboarding endeavours. The atmosphere becomes rousing! Or could it have been the champagne?
Dinner - a dine as you wish on a heartwarming and traditional Arabian feast. Shawarma, bread and salad stations. Cold Arabic meze, barbecue meats that smelled as good as they looked!
Whilst the chefs created a feast for the soul, the entertainment was a feast for the eyes and ears! Flowing raven haired belly dancers whose 'Maya hip' movements never faltered. Instead moved hypnotically with every beat as if they were one and the same. Tanourah dancers who left you asking - 'how do they do that?' Each set of performers being a build-up to the next as nothing before captured the attention of the camp like the blazing fire dance show! If the entertainment was a battle for which drew the most 'awes' then the fire dance blazed it.
The desert night sky showed its starry blanket as the fire pit crackled. The courteous hellos from only hours earlier had now transcended into a friendly hookah smoking atmosphere!
All those bright lights and the unending carousel of things to do in Dubai can be exhausting. Take an escape from your escape to Dubai with a luxury desert safari. Be it a morning, evening or overnight desert safari. If you have ever envisaged a safari camp near an oasis or with gourmet dining or butler service... There is an enticing mini collection of Arabian desert safaris with a distinctive difference with these tour operators!
Nara Escape - Nara Private Escapes
What transitions Nara Escape into desert safari stratosphere is their Hollywood style experiences and exemplary attention to detail inside Dubai's Desert Conservation Reserve. They can also host your private or corporate event in their unique desert setting.
Best for: overnight desert safaris, bespoke desert safari, treated as celebrities, gourmet dining
Platinum Heritage - Private Platinum Hot Air Balloon Experience
Best for: desert retreat, hot air ballooning
Ocean Air Travels - Customised Evening Red dune Safari
Best for: length of time to dune bashing and sand dining
Rayna Tours - Overnight Desert Safari
Best for: something memorable
Platinum Heritage - Royal Platinum Desert Experience
Best for: An actual oasis in the desert location, personal butler, fine dining, treated like royalty
Please note: I am not in any way affiliated with any of the above mentioned companies