Abu Dhabi Desert Safari - Arabian Nights Come To Life!
Along with a beautiful cityscape, Abu Dhabi boasts of awe-inspiring desert scenery straight out of an Arabian Nights fantasy. Camping in a tent beside a sand dune, eating a barbequed meal, enjoying shisha while looking up at the star-filled night sky? is there any other way to experience Bedouin life? Desert safaris have become a must-try experience in Abu Dhabi, and with a variety of tour providers available, you can enjoy it too!
Abu Dhabi is surrounded by lots of beautiful sand terrain that makes for a perfect desert experience. The Empty Quarter (known as Rub Al Khali) is a landscape of endless dunes and is considered the world's largest uninterrupted sand mass. It features the luxury oasis of Mirage Palace (called Qasr Al Sarab) as well as a beautiful desert hideaway called Tilal Al Liwa. At 300 metres high, the world's tallest sand dune called Tel Moreeb can be found in the Empty Quarter as well.
Another popular location is Al Ain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements. When visiting Al Ain, you get a sense of traditional Bedouin life. You can try the traditional attire of the Arabic people and take pictures with the local herdsmen.
The Arabian Nights Village in Al Khaznah is another popular location. It attempts to capture traditional Emirati life in the middle of the Arabian desert with large watchtowers and different accommodations such as tents, desert houses and palm houses. To reach this village, you'll have to venture through a gigantic dune valley.
Popular Tour Operators
There are dozens of tour operators who conduct desert safaris from Abu Dhabi, but you should be careful when making your choice. The desert terrain can be quite tricky and unpredictable, so it's important to pick a tour provider with experienced drivers and proper equipment for the journey. There have been some unfortunate cases where children were not provided proper safety gear like seatbelts which can be quite dangerous. Make sure that you check the websites of each company and read through their safety regulations, prices, and all the things provided in their packages.
Some of the best safari companies in Abu Dhabi are Abu Dhabi Desert Safari, Desert Dreams, Rayna Tours and Off-Road Adventure Tours. They provide various packages to suit all demands, along with providing hotel pick-ups and drops, refreshments, and meals as per package timings. They have offices in Abu Dhabi, but you can easily find all the necessary details on their websites.
Types of Desert Safari Packages Available
There are typically three types of desert safari packages to avail. The first is the morning package that begins at 8 AM and ends at noon. It includes a hotel pick-up to the desert where you can enjoy breakfast, go dune bashing, and ride camels before getting a hotel drop-off. The package includes refreshments as well. With this option, you can enjoy the deserts of Abu Dhabi and still be back to spend the rest of the day in the city.
On average, a morning desert safari would cost you between AED 100 to AED 250.
The second desert safari package is the evening package. It begins at 3 pm shortly after lunch when you are picked up from your hotel and taken to the desert for an afternoon of activities. You can ride camels, go sand-boarding or dune bashing, or enjoy a quiet afternoon indoors with traditional henna painting on your hands. Then, you can enjoy dinner with live music and belly-dancers as the sun sets on the desert horizon. It is incredibly romantic and comes highly recommended for couples. Most evening safaris cost AED 200 to AED 300.
The third package is an overnight trip to the desert. It begins at 1:30 PM after lunch where you are whisked off from your hotel for a fun afternoon including dune bashing and camel riding. When the sun sets, you are taken to your traditional Bedouin style campsite for a barbeque dinner of either continental or oriental cuisine. As you munch on the delicious food, you can enjoy live music, shisha, and belly dancers. In true Middle East fashion, dinner is followed by a delicious coffee called kahwa and a plate of dates. As there is little that is planned by most tour operators after dinner, some might find a night in the desert without internet or other entertainment a boring affair. It is best suited for families or groups of friends. It would set you back around AED 300 to AED 400.
Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Tips
While these tour packages run throughout the year, the best time to undertake a desert safari in Abu Dhabi is in the months from October to April. During this time, summer has come to an end and the hot desert winds cool down. Instead, the days are quite pleasant and the nights are slightly chilly. We'd recommend packing some thin woollens for the nights and wearing light, comfortable clothes during the day. Since many of these packages include outdoor activities, its a good idea to wear loose pants and shorts instead of skirts, dresses, or any clothing that can restrict movement. And although the companies provide refreshments, the desert can dehydrate you quite easily so we'd recommend that you always carry water bottles for your desert adventures.
No trip to the United Arab Emirates would be complete without experiencing desert life. Whether you make a day trip or stay overnight, you're sure to have an amazing experience of camping underneath the stars and enjoying life in the sand dunes at its finest. The Arabs are known to be gracious hosts who are eager to make you comfortable in their country, so you definitely shouldn't miss out on desert safaris.