I went on a desert safari a couple of years ago while living in the UAE. Seeing as it is one of the top outdoor things to do here, you will undoubtedly end up doing one sooner or later. It is not enough just living in the desert, surrounded by sand, you also have to go and explore these sand dunes. A desert safari is definitely not recommended during the super hot summer months as the heat then is just unbearable. You will probably melt or turn into a roasted tomato within minutes of stepping into the desert. Rather go in spring or autumn as the nights out in the desert can get quite chilly in winter and some safari’s offer overnight stays at their camps.
As we got into our air-conditioned 4×4 SUV I immediately buckled up as our driver looked like he was still in high school. And in the UAE the chances of this being true is quite huge as the boys start driving around at the age of 16 and love gallivanting around in the desert. Our crazy 4×4 driver sped across the desert of Abu Dhabi at such a high speed that we only caught glimpses of the desert expanse around us. We would speed up the dunes, swerving wildly from side to side, balance precariously at top and then vertically descend the dune again. As we descended the only thought going through my head was: please don’t stall!! As the momentum seemed to be the only thing keeping the vehicle from flipping over at any moment.
In-between these heart attack moments of reckless driving we did get to stop for a couple of photo opportunities. Walking on these sand dunes is quite a challenge as you tend to sink away and my worst fear was slipping down a dune and then trying to make my way back up again. The photo-stops were also a vehicle cool down period as in the desert heat the vehicles could overheat quite easily, especially at the speeds these young boys drive and race around.
The whole dune bashing in a 4×4 suv, and having your life in the hands of a reckless teenager was not good for my nerves. Luckily we did stop to watch the beautiful sunset before racing off to the campsite for the evening.
At the site we had the opportunity to go on a very short camel ride. These ships of the desert are not very comfortable and I can’t even imagine being on a camel for more than 15 minutes. But I will never let a chance pass to see the desert from atop one of these strange animals. You get shaken and jerked around as this creature sways across the sand and just getting down again gives you whiplash. To relax a bit before dinner I tried out a henna design on my hand which I smudged within a minute of it being done, thus have no cool photo of this.
After working up an appetite, probably from all the stress caused by our reckless young SUV drivers, we had a delicious barbecue dinner and shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe). For dessert we had extra strong coffee while watching our belly dancer performing her show around the campfire by starlight. You forget how many stars are out there as the city lights usually make it hard to see them. Out in the desert it feels like you are seated under a blanket filled with stars.