Dubai Desert Safari: Off-Road Fun, Adventure & Arabian Heritage

What is the best ever experience you can get being in Dubai? Well, that’s a question that’s almost impossible to answer. Dubai has such mighty experiences, that choosing one is next to impossible. However, if there’s one thing that no one can deny is the fact that no trip to Dubai is complete without the exhilarating Dubai Desert Safari.


Camil riding during a Dubai desert safari

If you’re looking for a winter break destination that never disappoints, then the UAE is your best bet. We’ve been exploring Abu Dhabi with the girls a few years back and would love to show them Dubai in the near future. We’ve visited this glamorous emirate 10 years ago as a couple and it was amazing. The activity that we reminisce about the most, is a magical morning desert safari during which we went dune bashing in the red dunes. Those few hours in the desert left us longing for more. So, a Dubai desert safari is the number one activity that we recommend you include in your future itinerary. To learn more about this quintessential Dubai experience, we turned to an insider.

Guest author Neha Singh from Dubai Wikia has some exciting options for you to consider.

The Dubai desert safari experience

The Dubai desert safari offers you the perfect combination of culture, gastronomic experience, adventure, and romance and nature treks. Going off on a desert safari is the best way to enjoy it all. Riding a camel on the same sands where the ancient Bedouin nomads traveled. Sitting back and enjoying the same cultural performances that the nomads enjoyed. Eating the same food that has graced the tents of many royal sheikhs in the desert for ages. A desert safari is enchanting and romantic and adventurous all in one. Come, let the hot winds of the desert blow in your face as you contemplate its eternal mystery of ancient Arabia’s famous red domain.

Desert adventures

The red, glittering and undulating dunes of the desert has given rise to some exciting sports. If you’re an adrenalin junkie, you’ll absolutely love desert sports and their uniqueness. Just get ready for the most fun part of your desert safari in Dubai!

– 4×4 off-roading

In this sport, you’ll be safely belted into a powerful 4×4 off-roading SUV, as it rides up and down the dunes at speed. It’s the desert’s own rollercoaster, only much more exciting! Given the different sizes of the dunes, each climb has its own challenge but the steep descent down is just as exciting. As the speed builds up, you’ll be screaming with excitement, just waiting to roll down the other side again.

Off-roading on the dunes can be bumpy and rattling but that’s part of the charm of roller-coasting on naturally undulating desert dunes. You’ll need to try it to love it and once you try it, you’ll want to do it again and again. It’s simply amazing!

Dune bashing with a Land Cruiser is one of the most popular Dubai safari activities

And yes, do understand that the desert safari rides are full of exciting twists and turns in the dunes, don’t venture if you’re a heart patient, pregnant or with a small baby.

– Camel Riding

A camel ride at a Dubai desert camp

Have you ever sat on a camel before? This cantankerous creature of the desert is as unlike a horse as you can imagine. As you mount the beautifully-decorated creature with its bells and bead-worked mantle, you’ll feel just like a Bedouin about to cross the desert. Let the ancient desert magic speak to you as you bounce over the red sand dunes on your camel.

Get to know your camel and see if he or she follows your commands! You’ll enjoy your camel’s decorations, made out of sea shells embroidered on colorful cloths and tied around the camel’s neck. The camel is also adorned with tassels and bells which jingle charmingly as this moody beast takes you on an unforgettable ride.

– Sand boarding

Sand boarding in the Dubai sand dunes

Sand boarding is sort of like body boarding, except you’ll be boarding down on sand dunes not on ocean waves. All said, it’s a thrilling sport, rushing down the tall dunes on your sand board, sending out twin waves of mica-rich red desert sands on both sides. Sand boarding is perfect for those people who might not be too thrilled to try off-roading and quad biking. It’s relatively easy and even kids can zoom down a sand dune on a board. Don’t forget to pre-book this before you go for the tour if you’re going with kids for a hassle-free experience.

– Quad biking

Quad biking during a safari desert tour in Dubai

Quad bikes give you a totally different high. You can ride solo or with a guide/companion. Try biking on the undulating dunes, the hard wadis, the rugged hard desert floors with their bumps and cactus shoots. It’s a rough adventure with plenty of bouncing and rattling, meant only for those who love these aspects of a rugged adventure!

An evening in the desert

Tanura dancer during an evening desert camp

Fancy spending an evening in the desert, enjoy some energizing desert sports and then settle down in the large Welcome Tent? Then sign up for the Evening Desert Safari with a responsible tour operator such as Rayna Tours. After your exciting desert sports are over, get ready to watch an amazing sunset. Be sure to bring your best camera with you. After this, you’ll gather with your tour group in a luxurious Welcome Tent, where you can lounge on silk cushions.

Smoke the Arabian shisha pipe as you lay back and watch a beautiful belly dancer gyrate to some sexy Arabian tunes. Watch a tanura dancer twirl like a dervish, throwing up his many illuminated skirts. It’s a breathtaking performance. Then you’re all set for a treat! Enjoy an amazing Emirati buffet dinner with amazing vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Its hard to resist the temptations of a delightfully arranged buffet that caters to your exclusive taste-buds. What’s more? You can especially get it customized for you with a vegetarian, non-vegetarian and even a Jain meal. All you have to do is let them know in advance, and the organizers would be happy to do it. It speaks a lot about the amazing Dubai hospitality, isn’t it?

Camping in the desert

Dubai desert camp during nighttime

When was the last time you slept under the stars? literally! Yes, with the option of campaign overnight in the desert, you can actually sleep under the starry blanked of the Dubai desert landscape. It can actually become your best experience ever. Don’t forget to opt for it. If you’ve signed up for an overnight safari, you will stay back while the evening safari members are taken back to their hotels. Then you’re all set to camp under the stars. You can stay in an individual tent, just you and your party, or join the others in the communal sleeping tent. Get ready to spend a lovely night under the brightest stars you’ve ever seen.

When you awake, watch the day break over the endless desert dunes. Observe as the clouds shift colors from pitch black to purple, to orange, pinks, gold and then a bright blue. A desert sunrise is about as good as it gets. You can take some exciting pictures of the sunrise to post on your Instagram account! It’s time now to enjoy breakfast with the others and head back to your hotel.

Sunset photography

Sunset photography during an evening desert tour

One of the best things about the evening and overnight safaris is the sunset photography. Your operator is sure to provide you a high-grade camera mounted on tripods. Be sure to take some amazing pictures of the sunset, guided by a professional photographer. You’ll be guided as to the best angles to get the perfect shots of the setting sun. Enjoy your photography session and the blissful views of the desert under the setting sun.

Nocturnal Dubai desert safari

When you sign up for an overnight safari, you can ask to sign up for a Nocturnal Safari as well. It’s a beautiful, romantic adventure, just you and your guide, off into the dark desert as the stars shine down. Explore the desert’s diverse flora – your guide will explain the desert plants to you and their uses.

Keep your eyes peeled out for the elusive Arabian Oryx, the Arabian Gazelle, nomad camels, the red desert fox, and desert reptiles and other desert wildlife. Be sure to ask your guide all the questions you want about surviving in the desert. Don’t forget to carry plenty of water and some warm clothing, because the desert is really cold at night. You can build a special relationship with the desert during the night, just you and the shadowy dunes and the distant craggy peaks of the Hatta Mountain range.

Your Dubai Desert Safari experience awaits…

A Dubai desert safari is always the best option when you’re looking for a natural adventure with some culture thrown in. No matter how the city changes and what new buildings come up, the desert remains the same. You’ll notice it when you enter the Dubai desert – the sudden distance between you and the glamor, noise, glitz and colors of Dubai. You’ll feel as though you’ve entered a whole other universe. At times you might even wonder if you’re truly in Dubai. Relish your time in this ancient land of mystery, where many wars have been fought amongst warring sheikhs. Book your tour now!

Desert safari deals

We bet you can’t wait to ride the Dubai sand dunes or to go camel riding near your desert camp before indulging in a delicious bbq dinner.

  • Check out these desert safari Dubai options on the GetYourGuide platform, all of which include a pick-up from your Dubai city hotel:

  • Here are some more options from the Tiqets platform (the first one also includes a belly dancing performance):

Where to stay in Dubai

With so many spectacular options to choose from, deciding on your accommodation will be a difficult task. Yet, it’s an important consideration because many visitors underestimate how far apart the different attractions really are. Here’s a map of Dubai with various accommodation options:

Have you been on a desert safari before, in Dubai or somewhere else? Or are you yet to plan your first desert experience? Are you just as intrigued by the magical desert as we are? Let us know in the comments!

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