With so much of Dubai designed to make you forget that the city is in the middle of a desert, which goes as far as the extravagance of an indoor ski slope in a high-rise building, you could be forgiven for visiting and never seeing a grain of sand. However, glitz and modernity aside, the desert outside the city has plenty of positive aspects, and a visit is one of the best ways to encounter an older, more authentic side of Dubai.
Of the various ways to head out into the dunes, a guided safari, swapping the traditional camel for a slightly faster vehicle instead, is the best way to go. Once out in the desert, you might be surprised at the amount of wildlife and natural beauty on offer, particularly at dusk when the temperature drops rapidly, encouraging a whole natural world to come out of hiding. Here are three of the best safari tours from Dubai.
FROM: $164/per person
There is something undeniably romantic about travelling around in a traditional 1950s Land Rover. The trusty vehicles that have completed many a testing voyage around the world convey participants out into the desert to a Bedouin camp. Once out there, you can see the Dubai of 50 years ago, ride camels and take part in various traditional activities. This tour also passes through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where you might get a glimpse of fauna like Arabian oryx and sand foxes. There is also a chance to see a falconry demonstration.
From $597/ per person
For more of a bespoke trip into the sand dunes that also makes the best use of the complete lack of light pollution, a private night safari may be the best way to go. Also using a vintage Land Rover, this tour heads out to a desert camp as the sun sets, and from where you can observe the stars and planets by telescope or look out for wildlife using night vision binoculars. It is a unique chance to see a completely different side to the desert. This tour also includes dinner, and the chance to smoke some shisha.
From $48/ per person
The Arabian Dune Safari is located in proximity to Dubai City. Head out to the Masayaf Desert Camp, where you can then ride in an SUV as it is driven up and slides down the rolling dunes. A Bedouin camp is also included in the itinerary, where coffee and snacks are served. This is the main focus of the trip, with camel rides and quad bikes available for additional fees. The experience continues with traditional dance performances and a chance to smoke the shisha pipe and is rounded off with a three-course BBQ dinner.