No trip to Dubai feels complete without experiencing the thrills of dune bashing in Dubai. Starting with what feels like a rollercoaster ride, this desert safari tour takes you on a wild ride through the desert sand in a Land Cruiser. The tour also encompasses the opportunity to sandboard, see eye to eye with and hold a Peregrine falcon, ride a camel, smoke shisha, get a simple henna tattoo, watch the whirling dervish, fire dancers, and belly dancers perform, and partake in a Middle Eastern influenced dinner as they try to immerse everyone into the Bedouin culture of the U.A.E.
Slipping, sliding, and skidding through the sand dunes
We were picked up at our hotel at around 2pm by a friendly driver for our desert safari tour in a white 4 wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser already filled with 5 middle aged Japanese women. We were quickly and thoroughly briefed about our excursion on the drive, and soon enough, the excitement began once we reached the point of the desert where we had to stop to let the air out of the tires to increase traction on our journey of dune bashing in Dubai.
We were lifted up and off our seats several times as the car skidded and shifted up and down the sand, following a long line of other Land Cruisers on the same tour. The drivers were all highly skilled in knowing when to increase and decrease speed to heighten excitement and also decrease the chances of getting stuck in the sand and ruining the trip. Screams of delight came from the Japanese guests as the whole car fills with their “Ooos” and “Ahhs” at every slip and turn through the sand dunes.
A cozy camp in the middle of the desert
Finally coming to a stop at a campsite in the middle of the desert, we soon realized that this was no ordinary camp set up. The open tents were exquisite and homely, despite being completely surrounded by sand. The interiors were layered with Kilim pillows and the ground covered with thick, colorful Turkish rugs. The bathrooms, to my surprise, was a nice private enclosure with lights, nice porcelain toilets, plumbing, and a sink inside every stall. I felt relieved that we didn’t have to rough it or anything, even in the desert.
Once all the guests were settled into the campsite, we were given options to the variety of activities that the tour offered. We were encouraged to try the kebab stand they set up, and after stuffing myself with a couple, I decided to finally take on sandboarding. This had been on my bucket list for some time now, so it was pretty exciting to finally have the opportunity to cross it off. I grabbed a snowboard laid at the bottom of a sand dune, and made my way up the sand tediously. Every step up that I took felt like at least half a step down when my feet sank into the sand. The experience was short but sweet, with my shoes unstrapped, and simply placed onto the bindings of the snowboard. Since it felt exactly like snowboarding, but with a grainier feeling, I decided to move on to the next activity after sliding down with ease.
I took a short ride on a camel, then made eye contact and held the Peregrine falcon just before its riveting performance, where it showcases the extent of its incredible ability to hunt. With their impeccable skills, I now understand why the falcon is the symbol of the UAE. It has become such a prized possession to the Arabs that Peregrine falcons require a passport to travel in and out of the country to combat the problem of falcon smuggling.
As the sun descends and nightfall slowly changes the colors of the Arabian desert, the air starts to cool down, and we all settled into the tents where the performances began, and the smell of food starts to tingle our noses. My stomach grumbles as I patiently watch the talents show off to their eager audience. When the signal that food-is-ready came, I filled my plate with salad, and what looks like hearty meat and potatoes, then settled back into the tent, where we all sat cross-legged, shoes off, and on the seat cushions on the ground of the tent. The performances continued to entertain the guests until it was finally time to head back. With so much food in our bellies, I was grateful that we took paved roads on our journey home from dune bashing in Dubai. We said our goodbyes and were dropped back off at our hotel at around 9pm.
Tips for the journey
Lightweight scarves are invaluable on this trip. They provide protection from the sun and the sand. While this incredible desert tour proves to be incredibly relaxed, guests are still dune bashing in Dubai, a Muslim country, so scarves can serve dual purposes of covering up the shoulders of women to not offend the natives of the U.A.E.
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