h6>Dubai for Daredevils and Dreamers: Dune Thrashing, Camel Rides, Picturesque Sunsets and More!
It’s hard to imagine rolling sand dunes are nearby when visitors first arrive at the metropolis that is Dubai. High-end luxury shops in the world’s largest malls, ultra-chic hotels on man-made islands and elaborate architecture you’ve only seen in magazines are prominent throughout the City of Gold. However, a short 45-minute drive with your desert safari guide transports you to an entirely different world – a landscape marked with sandy ridges and spotted with tents where local cuisine and new adventures await!
Desert safaris are an integral part of Dubai’s tourism industry. Hotel concierges are armed with binders packed with photos and a variety of safari options for adventurous traveler looking to experience the most outrageous activities available in the region. Eating shwarmas and hummos like a local Emirate is a given, but how about riding a camel as the sun sets on the horizon, or hanging-on for dear life as your SUV slides horizontally down the side of a sand dune? Most tours are offered twice a day, once midday and then later to include a sunset view and authentic dining under the stars. The choice is yours, but seeing sunset in the Middle Eastern desert? Yes, please.
After the short drive from downtown Dubai to the desert, the driver releases pressure from the SUVs four tires to provide better traction in the soft sand – a rather important detail. The driver requests a warning, before we take off, that anyone let him know if you begin to feel ill. Then you’re off – gliding along the smooth sand and quickly moving and bouncing up and over each dune only to slide down the opposite side before being catapulted up another dune! The tires never leave the ground, but the entire experience feels like a rollercoaster through the desert. This is “Dune Thrashing” at its finest!
The ride brings you to a sprawling camp constructed alongside two particularly large dunes, providing privacy from other groups in the area. A sloping entrance to the camp is lined with glowing lanterns and brightly colored ceramic vases. But first, a local Arab leads three large camels, connected to each other by rope, to the entrance for groups to climb aboard for a brief ride up and down the sand dune. The camels legs seem to bend two different ways, meaning you need to hold on tight when it stands up and sits back down on the sand. Each camel holds two riders, regardless of passenger’s weight or size, and casually stomps through the sand following the man in the lead. The camel grunts now and then during the walk, but overall it’s peaceful and serene. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Moving into the desert camp, a stage is set in the middle of a four-sided space with floor cushions and low tables set on plush carpets spreading out around it. This is where the belly dancing entertainment takes place as guests enjoy local cuisine including hummos and baba ghanoush, fresh salads and fruits, and a variety of meats kebab-style cooked on a massive outdoor grill. One corner of the camp is reserved for 10 or 15 hookahs carefully placed in the sand in front of floor cushions positioned to create your own personal recliner. A local brings hot coals to ignite each hookah and when you finish it is prepared for the next group. Intricate henna tattoos are designed on hands and arms in the opposite corner of the camp and locals sell artisan crafts in the hand-crafted kiosks between. The festivities continue under the stars until approximately 8 p.m. local time, and then it’s back to the SUV to relax as you make your way back to the glowing city of Dubai with memories to last a lifetime!