While I was in Dubai some good friends flew out for a few days. It was their first time in town, and when you're in Dubai for the first time you have to go on a Desert Safari.
There are several desert safari services in Dubai. If you're planning a trip and want to include this adventure, do a quick internet search for the best services. As we found out, service companies can vary in quality over time. A great resource is ExPatWoman.com.
After you've chosen a company, call in advance to make a reservation. On the day of your reservation a service car will pick you up from home. If you don't have 5-6 people in your party, you'll most likely pickup a second or third party to join you in the SUV.
Your driver will drive out towards the desert and after about 45 minutes you will pull up to a small stretch of shops just before you start your adventure.
At this "strip mall" in the desert you'll find yourself among the many other desert safari goers. The idea is to stretch your legs, grab a snack or some water, and to use the restroom before the drivers take their parties out to surf the sand dunes. Vendors will also try to get you to buy kitschy goods like the keffiyeh worn by the gals in the image to the right.
Soon you'll hear the drivers' cars and their whistles and honks, indicating it's time to get going. The cars get back on the highway, but before you know it you're taking a sharp turn off the highway and into the desert sand.
I tried my best to get some shots of the experience; don't let these freeze frames fool you, the experience is almost rollercoaster-esque.If you have an uneasy stomach, take a dramamine, use a scopolamine patch, or don't go.
After about 30 minutes of rollercoaster-ing through the desert, all the SUVs gather in the middle of nowhere to allow safari goers a break from the rollercoaster like ride, and an opportunity to take some pictures out in the middle of a mesmerizing sea of desert. My friends and I took full advantage of this time:
You get about 10 or 15 minutes to take pictures and hang out, then everyone gets back into their SUVs and you head towards the evening's festivities - after the safari part you head to the party part. All desert safari goers coalesce at a desert outpost. Here, you get to mingle with other safari goers, grab a drink (including a variety of beers), walk around and explore, get henna tattoos, smoke hookah, ride a camel, surf the sand dunes, and finally settle in for dinner and the show. Dinner is a mix of Khaliji Arabic food and some more commonly western foods that Americans and Europeans may prefer if they're not feeling up to trying new things. Khaliji means "of the Gulf" referring to Arabic countries or Iranian cities that border the Persian Gulf.
As everyone settles in for dinner, the evening show begins. On our night, there was a belly dance and a performance from a whirling Dervish adorned with colorful LED lights. Here are some images from our evening at the outpost:
After the show, everyone gathers their things and heads to meet their driver. After a long day of adventuring you'll most likely drift off to sleep on the 45 minute drive back and arrive home around 10 or 11pm.
And that's a Dubian Desert Safari.