Ever wondered what it’s like to dine under a blanket of stars in the Arabian desert? Well, wonder no more. On a Dubai desert safari tour, you’ll experience an authentic Arabic meal in a traditional Bedouin-style camp. As your 4WD vehicle races over the dunes, your adrenaline will pump in anticipation of what’s to come. Once you arrive at the camp, the smells of barbecued meats and spices will make your mouth water. You’ll sit on plush Arabic rugs and cushions as you gaze at the flickering campfire. Then dish after dish of delicious food will be served – from hummus and baba ghanoush to shawarma, kebabs, and baklava. A taste of Arabia indeed and a memory to last a lifetime. This is a side of Dubai you must see, smell and savor. A desert safari tour is a feast for all the senses.
Dune Bashing and Sunset Photography
Once you arrive at the desert camp, the real adventure begins! First up is dune bashing – an exhilarating ride over the rolling dunes. You’ll climb aboard a 4WD vehicle and hold on tight as you plunge up and down the massive dunes, kicking up sand in your wake. The thrill of the ride, combined with the stunning sunset vistas, will leave you breathless.
Be sure to have your camera ready, as the sunset in the Dubai desert is a sight to behold. The rippling dunes are bathed in golden light as the sun dips below the horizon, creating the perfect photo op. As night falls, gaze up at the clear sky blanketed in stars. The Milky Way is visible without the light pollution of the city.
After sunset, it’s time for a traditional Arabic meal at the desert camp. You’ll feast on hummus, baba ghanoush, kebabs, and shawarma. For dessert, indulge in om ali – a sweet puff pastry dish. Local entertainment includes belly dancing shows, henna painting, shisha, and falconry displays.
An overnight stay in the desert camp under the starry sky is a magical experience. You can sleep in a tent, cabin, or under the open sky. Wake up to a stunning sunrise, then enjoy a hearty breakfast before returning to Dubai, filled with cherished memories of adventure in the Arabian desert.
A Dubai desert safari tour offers a perfect blend of thrill and culture. From dune bashing to stargazing and traditional cuisine, it’s a chance to discover the soul of Arabia. An experience you’ll never forget!
A Traditional Arabic Meal Under the Stars
Once the sun dips below the dunes, the real experience begins. You’ll be led to a traditional campsite where low tables and cushions await. Under a blanket of stars, you’ll enjoy a delicious Arabic meal.
- Start with fresh salads like tabbouleh, fattoush, and mutable. Tabbouleh is chopped parsley, mint, tomato, and bulgur wheat. Fattoush includes a toasted pita, cucumbers, and a lemony dressing. And mutable is a creamy eggplant dip.
- Grilled meats are a staple. Chicken, lamb, and kofta (meatballs) are seasoned with Middle Eastern spices like allspice, cinnamon, and za’atar. The aroma alone will have your mouth watering!
- Hearty stews like hares, a wheat and meat porridge, or maklouba, a rice and meat dish, are also popular. Fragrant spices infuse the dishes with lots of flavors.
- Round your meal with sides like hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, and pita bread. The creamy chickpea hummus and smoky eggplant baba ghanoush pair perfectly.
- End on a sweet note with baklava, kunafa or umm ali. Baklava is a flaky pastry stuffed with nuts and honey. Kunafa is shredded dough with sweet cheese. And, Umm Ali is puff pastry, nuts, and cream.
A traditional Arabic meal is a multi-sensory experience you won’t soon forget. The tastes, smells, sights, and sounds create a magical night under the desert sky. What an unforgettable way to experience authentic Emirati culture!
Learn How to Smoke Shisha Like a Local
Select Your Shisha Flavor
One of the best parts of enjoying shisha is choosing from various flavors. The options are endless, from fruity mango and guava to sweet vanilla and rose. As a beginner, stick with lighter, fruitier flavors to start. The tobacco used in shisha is usually flavored, so the taste comes through prominently. Ask your server for recommendations based on what you usually enjoy.
Pack the Bowl
The shisha bowl, known as a head or grommet, holds the flavored tobacco that will be heated and smoked. Your server will pack the head with the flavored tobacco you choose, ensuring it’s evenly distributed and not too tightly packed. The tobacco should still feel fluffy and be able to draw air through it. An evenly packed head will ensure good airflow and flavor.
Place the Coals
Once the head is packed, your server will place hot coals to heat the shisha. As the coals heat the tobacco, the flavor and aroma will emerge. The number of coals used depends on the size of the head, but it is usually 2-4 coals to start. Your server will monitor the coals to make sure the shisha stays lit, and the temperature is ideal. More coals can always be added, but be careful not to overheat the shisha, which can cause an unpleasant harshness.
Draw Slowly and Steadily
Now comes the fun part—smoking the shisha! Hold the hose to your mouth and steadily draw in air, taking longer, smooth drags. Pulling too hard can make the coals burn too hot. Exhale and enjoy the sweet, fruity clouds of smoke. Continue drawing on the hose as long as the flavor lasts, usually 30-60 minutes. Your server will replace the coals to keep the shisha lit the entire time.
Smoking shisha is meant to be a leisurely, social experience shared with good company. Sit back, relax, and explore the variety of flavors—you’ll be smoking like a local in no time!
Get Your Henna Tattoo and Dance the Night Away
Get Your Henna Tattoo
Henna is a temporary tattoo made from henna paste, usually in intricate floral and paisley patterns. Henna artists will offer henna tattoos as part of the desert safari experience. You can get a henna tattoo on your hands, arms, feet, or back. The henna paste is applied to the skin and left to dry, staining the skin for 1 to 2 weeks. Henna tattoos are a fun, painless way to embrace the cultural experience.
Belly Dancing and Tanoura Show
Professional belly dancers and Tanoura dancers put on captivating shows for desert safari guests. Belly dancing, also known as Raqs Sharqi, is a traditional Middle Eastern dance where dancers make rhythmic movements of their hips and torso. Tanoura dancing features colorful skirts that spin and twirl dramatically as the dancer spins. These cultural dance shows are a highlight of the evening.
Sheesha and Arabic Coffee
Relax after your meal with a sheesha water pipe and Arabic coffee. Sheesha, or hookah, uses flavored tobacco smoked through a water pipe. Arabic coffee is a strong, cardamom-spiced coffee usually served in small cups. Enjoy these traditional Arabic refreshments while chatting with fellow safari adventurers under a blanket of stars in the Dubai desert.
Away from the bright city lights, the Dubai desert is ideal for stargazing. Learn to spot common constellations like Orion the Hunter, Leo the Lion, or Scorpius the Scorpion. Desert guides often bring telescopes to look closely at celestial wonders like the moon, planets, and distant galaxies. Gazing up at the Milky Way stretching across the sky is a peaceful way to end a thrilling desert safari tour.
FAQs About Dubai Desert Safari Tours
What should I wear?
For your Dubai desert safari tour, dress comfortably and casually in lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees and comfortable walking shoes. The desert can get quite hot during the day, so pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat. Consider bringing a light jacket for the evening when temperatures drop.
What activities are included?
Desert safari tours typically include dune bashing, camel riding, henna painting, belly dancing shows, BBQ dinners, and stargazing. Dune bashing involves riding over sand dunes in a 4×4 vehicle for an adrenaline thrill. Camel riding allows you to experience the “ship of the desert.” Henna painting and belly dancing show offer a taste of traditional Arabic culture. The BBQ dinners feature delicious meats, rice, salads, and more under the stars. Stargazing in the clear desert sky is a magical experience.
How long do the tours last?
Most Dubai desert safari tours last 4 to 6 hours. The tours usually start in the afternoon, around 3 pm to 4 pm, and end in the evening after dinner, around 9 pm to 10 pm. The time spent in the desert, dune bashing, and doing activities is around 2 to 3 hours. The rest of the time is spent traveling to and from the desert campsite where the cultural shows and dinner occur.
Is it safe?
Yes, Dubai desert safari tours are safe if you book with a reputable tour company. Look for companies with modern, air-conditioned 4×4 vehicles, licensed drivers, and insurance. The activities are designed for tourists and follow high safety standards. As with any adventure activity, there are risks of minor injuries, so listen carefully to your guide’s instructions. Pregnant women, young children, and those with back or heart conditions should avoid the dune bashing portion of the tour for health and safety.
What else should I know?
Bring cash for tips, photos, camel rides, or any extras. Most tours do not include hotel transfers, so arrange transport to the meeting point. Desert safari tours run daily, but some days may be very crowded, especially on weekends. For a more private experience, consider a private or VIP tour. Don’t forget your camera – the desert scenery is stunning!
So there you have it, a taste of Arabia right in the heart of the Dubai desert—an evening filled with adventure, culture, and cuisine like no other. The memories of stargazing into the inky night sky, riding the dunes at sunset, learning traditional dances, and enjoying a feast fit for royalty will stay with you long after you return home. Dubai desert safari tours offer an experience that ignites all the senses and gives you a deeper understanding of Emirati heritage and hospitality. If you only have time for one excursion during your trip to Dubai, make it a desert safari – your taste buds and sense of wonder will thank you. A new world of flavor and adventure awaits in the dunes.