Do you ever save the best for last? Going to Dubai, we looked forward to many things: the sunshine, poolside drinks, beautiful hotels we’ve had lined up and to discovering this place we’ve never had a chance to explore before. But what I couldn’t wait for the most was the luxury desert safari trip. To “see a desert” was on my bucket list for ages and I was planning to finally tick it off. That happened on our last day in Dubai.
Before the desert safari
The anticipation started a few days before when we were greeted by a lovely present in our hotel room – an elegant bag, containing a surprise gift, a desert dinner menu, and a letter. How thoughtful!
The long, 1-hour drive from our hotel was an absolute pleasure thanks to Eric, our guide for the day. Chatty & very knowledgeable guy, who met all the world’s celebrities on the job (and now us, ha!). On our way to the desert, he not only explained everything about the tour but also told us a lot about Dubai, its culture, food, customs, nuances and traditions. All that with a great sense of humour.
Tall buildings of Dubai Marina, Burj Khalifa in the distance, wide empty roads, camel racing track, villas – the view out of my window was changing quickly and then it was mostly sand on both sides of the road. – Looks like we’re close, aren’t we? – Yes, can you see the gate in the distance? That’s our destination, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
The luxury desert safari experience
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve was also our first stop. Eric professionally tied scarves on our heads (I really liked that look so I took lots of selfies then) and we started our gentle drive through the pristine dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve with multiple stops for pictures and wildlife spotting. All that from the comfort of an air-conditioned, luxurious Range Rover.
– Quick! Quick! Prepare your camera! – Eric spotted a spiny-tailed lizard. – You are so lucky, I never see them on the tours. And looks like we were really lucky that day. We spotted also some gazelles and oryxes gave us a ramming show.
After all the emotions and about 500 photos later, we were brought to an open-air lounge, beautifully set up on the sand. It was time for sunset canapes with sparkling date & apple drink and falconry show. We learned a lot about how the Bedouin used to capture and train falcons. The informative session was followed by prey catching show and Summer the falcon gave us a great performance.
I got a little bit distracted towards the end of the chat with the falcon trainer when camels were brought near our lounge. Camels! All my dreams were about to come true (well, I’m exaggerating but that’s kind of how it felt at the moment). It was a mix of emotions for me at that moment. I was about to tick off another bucket list item – a camel ride, but also – are camels really that tall?!
Before I even had a chance to analyse my feelings any further, I was invited to sit on “my” camel. The standing up and sitting down moments are like a wild roller coaster and yes when you’re up there it is really high. But it’s so much fun too. I couldn’t stop smiling.
The sun was setting when we arrived at our private desert oasis. By that time it all started to feel like a dream. I was sitting on a camel, travelling through the desert, the weather was wonderful, the sunset perfectly timed and the place where we were heading couldn’t look any more fitting. Also, the fact that on that night it was just us two and no other guests made the whole experience feel even more special.
We were welcomed to the oasis in a traditional way, with dates and spiced Arabic coffee. Flame torchlight, sand dunes around us, a small pond in the middle and private tables set around. In that serene, intimate setting we had a scrumptious six-course dinner. Shorbat adas soup followed by salads, kibbeh, hummus, stuffed peppers, selection of breads, spinach sambousek, authentic camel-meat dish and this was just a start. We had a break to watch a dance and get a henna tattoo. And then the spectacular meal, which is prepared and cooked in a desert camp kitchen, continued. For our mains, we chose Australian Angus Steak for Hubby and Arabic Spiced Chicken for me. We were really full by that point but still couldn’t say no to desserts. Especially to legimat – Arabic style doughnuts, drizzled with honey and date syrup.
After this elaborate dinner walking, or even slight movements were an issue, so we lied down on carpets, listened to the silence and star gazed for a good half an hour. I didn’t really want to leave, the ambience of that place was fantastic.
The luxury desert safari Dubai
tour: Platinum Luxury Desert Safari
more info: platinum-heritage.com
price: Adult AED 1500
good to know: a portion of your fee is contributed towards local conservation
ThuymiSeptember 17, 2016 at 3:13 pm
Amazing tour you hopped on. Very luxurious spot to eat in the desert. As a local resident, I would never go on these tours as we go dune bashing ourselves and camp/organize these ourselves. Only the Camels missing, but in th emorning they come and say hi 😉
Kallsy PageSeptember 17, 2016 at 3:27 pm
That air open lounge though… looks so magical! We dream of going to Dubai one day and this definitely makes the wanderlust even harder!
JenSeptember 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm
Sounds like a magical and luxurious experience! We would love to visit Dubai one day. Thanks for sharing!
Jenn and Ed ColemanSeptember 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm
That looks like an amazing and truly quintessential desert experience. I used to live in the deserts in Tucson AZ and had the opportunity to travel to Belize. I was always asking – when are we going to the jungle. Every time there were trees I would ask – “are we in the jungle yet”. Finally, we took a jeep past orange groves and down dirt roads. I held my tongue for fear of teasing. We parked in a clearing and headed up the hillside to a cave. The path was formed by a string of ants. All of a sudden, the piercing scream of howler monkeys rung through the air. My friends turned to me and said – “We are in the jungle now”. That moment flashed back to me when you so excited to check “See a desert” off of your bucket list.
JenniferSeptember 18, 2016 at 12:05 am
Gorgeous photos! We saw some oryxes grazing when we went to the desert outside of Dubai, but it looks like they gave you quite a show. When we go back, we’ll have to do this luxury tour!
NataliaSeptember 18, 2016 at 1:12 am
I love your pictures and experience! My first desert trek was in Jan 2015. I have never thought it will leave such a strong mark with its endless landscapes, calmness and millions of stars in the sky at night. Thank you for sharing)
DrewSeptember 18, 2016 at 5:04 am
Wow, what an experience. I wanted to do something similar when I was in Abu Dhabi, but I couldn’t work it out timing wise. Love the falconry training too…that must have been a blast. The lounge/dining set up too looked top notch. An expensive treat, but something that looks truly special!
AnneSeptember 18, 2016 at 10:24 pm
I love that dinner table setting. It looks so cool. We drove through the desert to Oman once and I remember just being blown away by how vast it was
Arzo TravelsSeptember 19, 2016 at 4:31 am
Wow, what an experience. A desert safari in Dubai was also one of my highlights and I cannot wait to do another tour. I, however, did it with another company and it was a group tour but this looks so romantic (just need to find a date for that tour:)
CarolinSeptember 19, 2016 at 10:41 am
Amazing pictures! I remember my visit to Dubai like it was yesterday and I also went on a desert safari, love looking back as it was such a cool thing to do!
Mar PagesSeptember 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm
Wow! I just came back from a safari in Africa and I miss it already. Love your photos, its really making me consider taking a trip to Dubai just for this.
Discovering Dubai – the old, the modern and the must-see – a matter of taste – food & travel blogNovember 23, 2016 at 3:34 pm
[…] Escaping the city and going for a few hours to the desert was one of the highlights of the trip. There are many companies offering desert safaris so it’s easy to pick something that matches your criteria (mine were: a small group and no dune bashing) and budget. We went with Platinum Heritage (read about our experience here). […]