Review: Dubai Desert Safari

If there was one thing I wanted to do during my recent short trip to Dubai, it was a desert safari. I had never been to the desert but I’d heard so much about it from friends and thought it would be a wonderful memory to take back home. I did a little research online and found that there are several companies who have desert safari services. They all offer the same 5-6 hour package which includes hotel pick up, dune bashing, camel riding, barbecue dinner at a Bedouin camp with live entertainment from a belly dancer, shisha, henna tattoo, and hotel drop off. The only thing that differs between each company is the price which ranges from 40-80 USD per person. Seeing as though the packages were the same we decided not to pay too much and booked with the Go Dubai company for 57 USD per person. I received a confirmation e-mail right away and a phone call the next day to re-confirm the booking which reassured me that I had chosen a good company. I was slightly worried that the quality of the experience would differ because other companies had a higher price tag, but boy was I wrong!

IMG_0152We were picked up from the hotel as planned and set out to the desert which is a 45 minute drive from the city. The 4-wheel SUV fits six so my friend and I shared it with a family of four along with the guide who was super friendly and funny. At the entrance to the desert were some shops and cafes where we stopped to use the rest room. As we were walking back to the car we were instantly swarmed by locals who started wrapping traditional head scarfs on our heads. I naively thought this was part of the whole tour package until one of the men pointed to the cashier. My friend and I decided to keep the head scarfs as we thought they’d make for good photos, but she bargained with the salesman to give us a good price (Tip: many salespeople rip off tourists at the desert but they will surely lower the price if you bargain.)

IMG_0177With our head scarfs on we departed for the dunes. For about 30 minutes we drove up and down enormous dunes as the car skidded and drifted. It was such an adrenaline rush and got a bit scary at times but our guide assured us that he’s been doing this every day for 7 years so we knew we were in good hands. We stopped at a nice spot and got out of the car to take photos. Our guide took some lovely pictures of us jumping in the air and kicking the sand(which was as smooth as running water). Looking out into the distance, we were rewarded with an incredible sight! Endless rows of sand dunes formed over hundreds of years. The weather was warm and the sunshine felt so nice on my skin, although I recommend taking a jacket because at night it gets a bit chilly.

IMG_0262After dune bashing, we headed to the Bedouin camp site which is a further 20 minute drive away. The site is shared with other safari companies but we were the first group to get there. We spotted three camels on a hill just outside of the camp entrance and hopped on them for a ride. Camels are super tall, I had no idea! And they’re really friendly animals. By the time the other groups arrived it was dark and I was so grateful to our guide for getting us there early because we took some amazing sunset shots (Tip: there’s a professional photographer that takes photos of you while on the camels however you are charged extra for these. I suggest you give your cell phone to the guide to take some photos so that you won’t have to pay any unnecessary additional costs.)

IMG_0274Next, we headed inside the camp site where we were greeted with a date and cup of Arabic coffee. The camp site itself looks like something out of the Disney film Aladdin. Tents, carpets, candles, and even a camp fire were set up,  it all looked so charming. Once everyone had arrived, the primary entertainment act came on stage. A male dancer dressed in traditional clothing spun around non-stop for what must have been 20 minutes, all while throwing things in the air and changing outfits. I was really impressed. After the show they opened the barbecue buffet, by then it was about 7pm and I was getting hungry. I thought the food was average, mainly because I’m Middle Eastern myself so I’ve had better but from what I could tell the other tourists seemed to like it. There was hummus and tabbouli, and a large plate of rice with several hot stews to choose from. There was also a stand giving out shawarma and falafel. Following dinner, a belly dancer came out and danced for 20 minutes. Everyone was clapping and dancing along to the Arabic beats, it was a fun way to the end the night. We left right after the belly dancing and were back at the hotel around 9pm.

Verdict: An authentic once in a lifetime Arabian experience that is not to be missed when visiting Dubai.

Have you been on a desert safari? How was your experience?

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Weekend in Dubai

So I mentioned earlier on the blog that I’d be heading to Dubai for a three day getaway with one of my best friends. I recently got back and despite being a short trip it was quite fulfilling because we got a lot done. My friend and I had both been to Dubai before so this trip was mainly for relaxation rather than tourism, and we chose the perfect time of year to go. Dubai has beautiful weather in March unlike the summer months where there’s scorching heat. Anyone who’s planning a short trip to Dubai, this was our itinerary:

Day 1 – Friday

We arrived in Dubai at noon and headed straight to the hotel to check in. We stayed at First Central Suites in Tecom for 2 nights. The hotel is located in a quiet area not far from downtown and close to the metro. The staff was great and the room was spacious, the only downside is that we had to pay for WiFi and breakfast wasn’t included in the room price. Nonetheless after we checked in we had a quick bite at the hotel restaurant and immediately embarked on a desert safari which I’d booked online in advance (detailed review coming soon). The safari lasted 6 hours so by the time we got back to the hotel we were pretty knackered and slept right away.

Day 2 – Saturday

Woke up early and had breakfast at a café across the street from the hotel. We then took a taxi to Jumeirah Beach, a large stretch of sand with restaurants situated all along the boardwalk. Many hotels are located on the beach which charge visitors for access to their beach beds. We opted not to pay for a bed and instead went to the free zone of the beach located toward the end of the boardwalk. It was a hot and sunny day and we spent a good 3 hours tanning before we decided it was time for a dip in the crystal clear water. After drying off we chose a restaurant at random to have lunch. We sat on the second floor and were rewarded with a stunning view of the sea. After lunch we headed back to the hotel because I was scheduled to meet up with a university friend who had recently moved to Dubai for work. We sat  in the hotel lobby and caught up for an hour before it was time for me to get ready for the Drake concert. If you’ve never been to Dubai an alternative to a concert would be Dubai Mall(the largest mall in the world) for some shopping and dinner. Also catch a glimpse of the magnificent Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which stands just outside of the mall. Don’t miss the Dubai Fountains right under Burj Khalifa which put on a spectacular musical show every 15 minutes.

Day 3 – Sunday

Woke up early to check out and left our luggage in the hotel lobby. We went to the same café as the previous day for breakfast and then headed to the Mall of the Emirates. This is the second largest mall in Dubai and is a 10-minute drive or less from the hotel. We split up and spent the day shopping, met up again for a late lunch and then went back to the hotel just in time to leave for the airport.

Have you ever been to Dubai? Did you like it?

Daydreaming of Dubai

Hello lovelies 🙂

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately, I’ve actually been planning a birthday getaway to Dubai with my best friend. I turn 22 in March and since I’ve just completed my university degree and am currently looking for a job, I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands and what better way to fill it besides travel! We were able to find a great deal which I’m super happy about, although I’d love to ask for recommendations of things to do over there. I’ve actually been to Dubai before back in 2011 on a family holiday and I’m excited to go back – this time with my best friend – to discover more of this fabulous city so please do hit up the comment box, I’m open to try anything!

Peace & love xx