No lie, 2019 was a difficult year packed to the brim. If my money could buy me a ticket to peace and tranquillity, I’d be waving goodbye right now from stress station. Since the world doesn’t stop spinning, Dubai’s Desert Safari was suggested to me like an indulgent diversion that would make surviving feel less trying.
I took it as an invitation to be selfless and nodded fervently as I accepted the golden ticket to visit the quintessential desert terrain in the UAE.
As I was on an evening tour, we set off from our hotel Zabeel House Mini Al Seef at 3 pm and arrived at the desert around 1 hour later. Dress light and comfy (yet conservative), but I do recommend bringing a jacket as it gets pretty chilly at night.
From the 33°C desert world (between Oct-Apr), stop-in-your-tracks sights and their cuppa brimming of calmness, I found myself engrossed in a visual diary and history lesson through the desert safari, and of course — got the chance to gaze at the starry night sky. Cameras? Mandatory.
Everything from watching a falcon take flight and hunt, to seeing the sunset in the Rub’ al Khali desert, the Heritage Desert Safari package by Platinum Heritage promises an experience you’ll never forget. Picturesque doesn’t even begin to cut it in here.
There are some activities I instantly fell in love with and never could get over. From riding in vintage 1950s Land Rovers (the wind was mighty strong that I feared for my eyelash extensions), enjoying a photo stop at the sand dunes, to stopping in at the desert camp to enjoy a traditional Arabian feast.
My driver and professional conservation guide shed light about the native wildlife, the unique desert ecosystem and other interesting facts throughout our whole journey. As we ventured into centuries-old territories, I learned that the Desert Conservation Reserve area sprawled across a total area of 225 km² and even crosses Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen!
Now if you’re lucky like me, you’ll be able to catch generations of Arabian Oryx’s grazing around on the conservation trail!
Spectacular Falcon Show
Just like that Twenty One Pilots song, I’m stressed out… and watching the sunset over the sand dunes while witnessing a thrilling falcon show led by a professional falconer let me hit pause on that tune.
As part of the package, I got to take a step back in time; learn about the birds ancient training techniques and how the Bedouin (a group of Arab people who have historically inhabited the desert regions) used falcons for hunting. We saw the falcon take flight and dive down to catch a prey in mid-air. After the falcon ruffled its feathers, we were invited to take pictures and ask the falconer any questions.
As the UAE’s national bird, falcons continue to play such an important part of Arabian culture and the country has even launched many initiatives to protect falcons and other types of endangered wild birds. Fun fact: Falcons even have issued passports that allow them to travel around the world!
Experience A Sea Of Pristine Sand Dunes
Adventure, freedom, exploration, the world at my fingertips — it seemed like this voyage was just what I needed. All the travel goals I craved accompanied me, too. With an unsurpassed view of the sand dunes, however — near and far — it truly lived up to being “a luxurious journey of adventure and escapes”. Consider my wanderlust dreams officially widened.
Traditional Arabian Feast
For my Heritage Desert Safari package, we ended the night at an authentic Bedouin camp; lit with traditional lamps and nestled inside a private desert retreat. We were treated to camel milk, salads, shorbat adas soups, hummus, an assortment of meat skewers and Arabic doughnuts drizzled with honey syrup.
As a pescatarian, I was very thankful that they even provided vegetarian and vegan meal options! They even served drinks that cleverly represented the colours of the UAE flag: mint lime juice (green), watermelon juice (red) and water (white).
Within the camp, there’s more to do than just trying some shisha — there are camel rides and traditional performances, demonstrations of Arabic coffee and bread making, plus henna painting! When in the UAE, do what I did — relax in the Arabic Majilis area and indulge in an Emirati feast under the stars.
Travel tips to Dubai Desert Safari:
- Wear comfortable clothing (preferably pants as it gets windy)
- Bring sunglasses as the sand gets in your eyes, especially during the ride in the Land Rovers
- Bring along a shawl or jacket as it gets chilly at night
- The guides will caution you against walking out of the designated area to take photos as the desert slopes can be unpredictable
- Apply sunscreen and don’t forget your camera!
Written by Sinead Lee.
Written by Sinead Lee.