This blog has been a little light on lately. Between finding our feet, getting into a routine, exploring Al Ain and all coming down with chest infections, our free time has been pretty quiet with lots of lazing around as we try to get better.
But with clear chests and a new found level of excitement, we hit the desert sands last night for a beautiful night of Arabic entertainment.
When planning for our trip, the one thing we all wanted to do was ride camels in the desert. Well, nearly three weeks into our time in the UAE this still hadn’t happened. Our time is quickly coming to an end in our beautiful desert oasis, so it was time to make some serious plans and book a Desert Safari Adventure!
There is a myriad of companies out there that take bookings for Desert Safaris, with prices ranging quite dramatically. Our tickets though, were purchased through a discount company (click HERE to learn how we save $$ on family fun and adventures) which gave us a massive discount! As it turns out, all of these tour operators end up taking you to the same stretch of sand on the outskirts of Dubai!
Meeting our tour group
The evening started by meeting our tour group at Lu Lu Hypermarket in Dubai. For those that haven’t been to Dubai, the traffic is pretty full on – picture peak hour traffic, most of the time! To make things worse, we misread the GPS and ended up in a lane that sent us in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. With only 20 minutes until we had to meet our guide, what one might think would be a quick U-turn, turned into a 15-minute nightmare of side streets, back alleys and crazy drivers – nothing in Dubai seems easy!
With minutes to spare, we saw the Lu Lu Hypermarket… BUT seeing and arriving are two entirely different things. Navigating the next block and a half was infuriating! But, with no time to lose, we decided on a short cut… a little 4WDing in downtown Dubai! (I should point out we weren’t alone!)
With numerous phone calls from the Tour Operator, in broken English at best, we finally parked – in what seemed to be a park that was too easy to find! Signs showed paid parking started from about 50mtrs behind us, so we raced to meet our driver before being whisked off into the Dubai desert sands.
Driving along a Dubai freeway is an experience in itself. After an hour and a half of driving from Al Ain I enjoyed sitting back and taking in the sites…
After a hair-raising drive along the Dubai freeways (I tell you these drivers are NUTS!) our driver began to slow along a stretch of road teaming with 4WD’s. While only 8 of us had joined our tour, we were to meet up with hundreds more, all awaiting the beginning of the adventure!
4WDing in the Dubai Sand Dunes
The first component of our adventure was 4WDing through the sand dunes. Now if you read our earlier post (HERE) on our arrival in the UAE, you’ll know we got to do a little 4WDing in the Al Ain sand dunes – we had an absolute ball. BUT, as it turns out that was pretty low key 4WDing! And, as it turns out, full on 4WDing in the sand dunes scares the *#$! out of me! LOL
To be fair, I laughed my head off the whole way, I just couldn’t do it with my eyes open! We sped along the tops of soft sand dunes, slid precariously down the sides (deliberately) and then flew towards the top of another dune only to quickly drop to the sand below. While the kids squealed in delight in the seats behind me, I clung on for dear life, with images of a rolling 4WD flashing before my eyes. Again, I did love it – a bit like I love a really exciting roller coaster – I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but had tears from laughing rolling down my face as I giggled like a school girl at every turn. At the same time though, I was picturing news reports of injured Aussie tourists appearing on the screens of tv’s back home!
Arriving at our Desert Camp
With a massive sigh of relief (from me!) we arrived at our destination, a beautiful site of arabic tents in the middle of the desert. Upon arrival we each had the opportunity to hold a Falcon – some enjoyed it significantly more than others!
Riding camels in the desert
Finally, our dream came true – riding camels in the desert. Sadly, it wasn’t all Sienna thought it would be! Holding on for dear life as the camel stood up, and later sat down, was pretty scary! And having a third camel on the back of our camel train, who took an instant dislike to both Sienna and I made for an interesting ride. Smiling and laughing whilst keeping an eye on number 3 who kept trying to nip us (despite his mouth being covered) was not the dream I had in mind, but overall it was as much fun as I’d hoped it would be.
Our guide was absolutely lovely, stopping at numerous spots to take more photos than we could ever possibly hope to need!
Dressing in traditional clothing
As the old saying goes… when in Rome, do as the Romans do… so when you’re in the middle of an Arabic Desert, one must dress in Arabic clothing (of course!) The kids had a ball trying on various things, and Sienna was thrilled to jingle like a set of bells as she shook her head and hips in a new little ensemble. And of course what’s a new outfit without a photoshoot in the sand dunes!
Dinner in the desert
Our gorgeous dinner setting began as the sun set on the horizon and continued under a sky of stars (and a few planes getting ready to land in Dubai!) With much excitement, an Arabic dinner was served and a wonderful performance of belly dancing and fire breathing began.
The meal included unlimited water and softdrinks, with a full bar available for an extra cost!
As the evening drew to a close, we wandered back to the collection of 4WD’s, with no idea how to find our driver. But as luck may have it we found the family we’d travelled in with who were able to track down our driver in no time.
After a little bit more dune bashing (yes, at night!) we made it safely back to our van where we drove off into the night, back to our car, awaiting us at the Lu Lu Hypermarket – WITH A PARKING TICKET! Apparently the arrow that demonstrated where the parking section started, was in fact, pointing to where the parking meter was – we’d completely misread the sign!!!
Not the best end to a fabulous night, but in the overall scheme of things, a small blip in an otherwise wonderful evening.
If you ever get the chance to come to the UAE, a Desert Safari is certainly a must do!
Until next time
Looking for more activities in the UAE? Checkout this AWESOME post by Our Globe Trotters