On our recent, amazing, visit to Dubai, there was one thing that all 4 of us wanted to experience – for the second time. And that was a Desert Safari, with dune bashing. Last summer, on a stopover in Abu Dhabi, we joined an afternoon/evening desert safari, and it was exhilarating and amazing in equal measure. We wanted to do this again! So, the day before flying back to the UK, we joined Happy Adventures Tourism for what turned out to be an incredible end to our Arabian adventures.
We were picked up at our hotel at around 2pm in a 7-seater Mitsubishi 4X4, and we were then driven to Dubai Marina to pick up another guest. Rebecca was fantastic company; a young Aussie who liked a laugh but didn’t take any nonsense!
Once under way, it took a good 2 hours to get to the dunes. We stopped briefly for a restroom break, during which people tried to sell me scarves and daggers, but I used the excuse that my son needed the bathroom to fend them off! I must say we drove through some fabulous scenery (generally in the direction of Oman and the Hajji Mountains). We eventually reached the desert and our very experienced (thank goodness) driver turned off the road and headed straight for the dunes.
If you haven’t tried this, you really must. There’ll be lots of laughing, lots of screaming, and lots of silences when all passengers fear you’re about to roll/drop off a dune! It is SO scary! Your life really is in the hands of the driver. In Abu Dhabi we followed a convoy of other jeeps, so could see what was about to happen … not this time. This time we were the only jeep on the dunes and we were thrown upwards, downwards, sideways …
I was silently screaming as my lungs had run out of air. Mind, I did sit right at the back, where there wasn’t a huge depth to the footwell – so on each dip I found myself fighting against being sucked out under the seatbelt! I was also sitting over a wheel, and I can confirm that sand really hurts when you thwack down onto it … I’m rather amazed I still have a working spine!
We did stop (eventually!) and we got to admire the amazing desert scenery.
After some equally adrenaline-fuelled dune bashing back towards the main road, we then headed to ‘camp’.
We arrived at the camp at around 5:30pm. On the perimeter we could see a row of quad bikes, two Arabian horses, two camels, and a man holding a falcon. The children were keen to ride the horses, so they did this first …
Then the camels …
After this, they headed to the quad bikes. Millie-Mae really enjoyed this – I think Toby was a little daunted by the speed they could reach if you pulled the accelerator back too far. He liked it, but only did one circuit!
We then all posed with the falcon. It was lifted onto our heads … got to say those talons were incredibly sharp!
Finally, before settling down for our evening entertainment, we got to try some sand boarding …
… and climbed to the top of a dune to watch the incredible sunset.
VIP Evening Entertainment
We were led to an air-conditioned wagon, filled with comfortable seating around a large, low table. It was very colourful. From here we had front-row seats to the stage, and food and drink were delivered to us. After all the desert activities it was nice to sit down in the relative cool with a cold drink and limited risk of banging your head (I do love dune bashing, no really, I do!) The food was served on plates with copious flat breads. There were dishes of spicy chicken, vegetable curries, meat ragout, and even some sweet milk desserts. The food was lovely and there was loads of it.
The server must have come around about five times asking if we were hungry or thirsty. Drinks were served regularly throughout the evening and at one point I had five bottles of cola in front of me. The kids had plenty of water and drinks as it is obviously important to stay hydrated in the desert.
Millie and Rebecca had a horse-drawing mini competition, as both discovered the other could draw them too. Rebecca took Millie’s biro-drawn horse all the way back to Sydney with her, where she’s framed it and put on her wall alongside her grandmother’s horse sketches x
Once darkness had fallen, the front of our booth was raised and we had a perfect view of the stage. The hookah (hubbly bubbly) pipes were lit up. Yes, you can try it if you like; Rebecca picked an apple flavour for us to try – there were lots of choices. The entertainment was a dancing show that went on for about 1 hour. There were several belly dancers, an Egyptian whirling dervish dancer, a fire eater/fire dancer and also a dancer with a costume covered in coloured lights. Here’s a small selection of what we saw …
They all worked extremely hard and the result was a fabulous show. The fire dancer was brilliant and I had to keep going out to get close up video! It was possible to sit upon large cushion nearer the stage if you wanted.
On the subject of photography, no one stopped us taking photographs of anything we wished. There were photographers there, but they played it fairly low key.
The Return Journey
The evening ended at around 9pm. We had the chance to take some last photographs and then said our goodbyes to our hosts before finding our driver waiting for us with cool bottles of water and our 4×4 ride back to the hotel.
The journey was uneventful and although we were initially talking about the events of the day the kids quickly fell asleep, as did Rebecca. It felt quicker getting back, and we were soon being dropped off at our hotel in the Al Jaddaf district of Dubai.
We felt really looked after, from the moment we were collected, to when we were dropped off. Nothing was too much trouble. I really recommend the tour to any first visitor to Dubai – do it, it’s worth it!
On our next visit we want to visit the Hajji Mountains 😊