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Dubai Desert Safari – What’s it Like?

SUV desert safari
sand drifting

Sand Drifting, for the thrill-seekers and modern desert nomads

We learned in our science class (and Civics) that there are different kinds of land. There were coastal lands, forests, plains, ice-covered lands and one particular peculiar land form: Desert.

Gradually experiencing all these: snow, beach, forests, plains, mountains, and grasslands, I never got to experience the desert. That was until the family decided to go to Dubai last December 2015.

I had a faint idea of what it may be like. Sand. Lots of sand. Lots and lots of sand.

Desert stretch

Oh, so that’s what a Desert looks like, but really it’s more amazing in person than in picture

National Geographic also taught me that there were some flora and fauna in the desert. Cacti, flowers, snakes, scorpions, and kangaroo rats. Okay so it seemed pretty easy. I just thought: Imagine the beach, but with no seawater. Pretty simple right? I was wrong.

What I Thought It Would Be Like

So the books tell me that it’s actually gonna be very hot in the day and very cold in the night. It was around December when we went there so yes, the cold part was evident. They also told us that there will be some plants that did not rely on constant rains. This too was present.

desert flower

life still finds its way even in the most barren of land

My biggest assumption would basically have to be that the sand in the desert, though differently coloured, will be like the sand of the beach.

I was wrong.

What it REALLY is Like

First of all my biggest surprise had to be the sand.

feet in the desert sand

feet in very soothing cool sand that doesn’t stick to your toes? Best feeling ever

When you step into beach sand you notice that there is that powdery stuff that sticks to you. This makes sand really difficult to clean up after when you come from the beach. You just don’t like the sand stuff sticking everywhere (even when you’re dry!) I’m also guessing that this is because of the beach’s humidity.

In the desert the sand is… clean.

It’s like you can get it all over your hands, your feet, and your slippers but if you shake it off, all of it comes off!

sifting sand

with great fascination I kept throwing the sand everywhere. the sand just felt different!

I ended up dipping my hands and feet into the sand. I love the feeling! It felt very light and very soft. It did not feel compact or hard. In the beach you would feel a hard layer of sand after the top layer of soft sand. Here you could continue digging into the sand and it would still feel soft and cozy! I guess the wind sifting the sand every now and then contributes to this seemingly endless state of soft sand.

My siblings and I were delighted by this strange new sand that we were just going around and throwing it into the air. “Just like in the movies.” That’s exactly what we thought when we tried to replicate the sand flying in the air.

The Actual Desert Safari

dubai desert safari

Not the most reassuring of signages in the car

Before getting to the desert the ride was quite long from our hotel (city proper) to the desert area. There were hundreds of cars lined up! We weren’t the only tourists around and I guess this is a very popular thing to do. But the thing is with the desert, it’s so huge, I’m sure there was enough open space for everyone. But who would’ve thought? A desert that isn’t deserted.

SUV desert safari

sunset and sand, this safari knew how to end dramatically

We were all riding some very powerful SUVs that were deflated before we entered the sandy area of the safari. This deflation made the car optimised for the desert run experience. You really couldn’t tell the driver what to do. He was in full control of the steering wheel and this was HIS car. You were also not allowed to hold on to the handle bars because apparently this will also damage the car’s interior.

The only thing you could actually do was stiffen up and hope that all goes well.

You’re supposedly pretty secured on your seat because you have to wear seat-belts. Sitting in the front passenger’s seat gave you the best view of everything. I will admit getting a bit scared with the ride because I saw beforehand some of the cars getting stuck in the dunes! The ride was not straight nor going up and down. It was going all sorts of directions and the 4 wheeler just kept drifting through the dunes. Seeing how we made it alive and that our car did not overheat, I’m sure this guy knew exactly what he was doing.

desert sunset

the air grows colder as the sun sets over the desert horizon

The whole ride ended with us bidding the sun farewell in a very quick sunset, seeing our galaxy’s star disappear into the horizon.


Dining in the Desert

desert safari dinner

entering the venue for our desert safari dinner to mark the end of our safari

There is something interesting about being able to say that I’ve tried having dinner in the desert but it’s really not anything spectacular. You got those Arabian carpets, unlimited shawarma, Arabic coffee, and lots of vegetables.

desert safari dinner

it’s a pretty healthy dinner , lotsa aragula and with what looks like their version of Pancit Canton

During the dinner there is this guy in a huge circular skirt that had several colours. His performance involved him spinning consistently in a colorful  skirt throughout the entire show without losing his balance or orientation (lol).

Spoiler alert, near end of the show his skirt will light up, because you know, why not.

desert shawarma

Shawarma, lots and lots of it, freshly sliced in front of you

Stay around and you will also learn how to wear the head scarf like a true desert nomad, and you will also get to see camels that sound like they’re possessed by the devil. If you wanted to you could also get a dose of shisha while sitting on the carpet on a beautiful Arabian night.

See, Arabian Night.  I have eaten dinner in a desert in an Arabian night. Yeah, it does sound cool. :p

The evening was generally cool but I won’t say it was freezing cold. It would have probably gotten colder as the evening goes by.  Our driver inflated the tires to their proper pressure and we were off home.

Would I go back? Yes.

Desert atv

Maybe next time I’ll take an ATV through the desert

Not so much for the dinner, more of the possibility of camping out in the desert. I mean, I wonder what its like to sleep in the desert?

– The Crazy Juann





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