Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

United Arab Emirates

1 Unforgettable Arabian Night: Dubai’s Desert Safari

We couldn’t leave Dubai without experiencing the Arabian Desert. And with limited time available, we chose a tour with GoDubai on the night that our flight was leaving for Perth – that’s cutting it fine.

After doing research online, booking the tour over the phone was a pretty straightforward process (US$62 per adult and US$52 per child). But when it came time for the scheduled pick-up, we waited in the hotel lobby… and waited… and waited. Finally we received a call from the tour company who said the driver had been waiting for us for 15 minutes and we should go outside to meet him. We checked outside and around the hotel, but no driver. After some dialogue back and forth, it turned out the driver was at the wrong hotel. After this first mishap, the rest of the tour ran much smoother.

The drive out into the desert didn’t take too long, and before we knew it our 4x4 was pulling off the highway into an unmarked section of sand dunes. It seemed a little strange, and our driver only provided minimal directions on what was going on, but we went with the flow.

The driver met with other a couple dozen other 4x4s at this secluded secret desert location. We took the chance to jump out of the car and stretch our legs, taking in the amazing desolate panoramic view. It felt like being on the moon. There was desert as far as the eye could see. The warm hues in the sand contrasted with the bright azure tones of the sky broken by wispy white clouds. It was quite a spectacular sight.

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The sun was also getting low on the horizon setting up what would be an eye-poppingly beautiful desert sunset like no other.

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Once everyone was accounted for, the 4x4 drove into the seemingly-uninhabited desert in single formation. Caius wanted to get front-row seats so he sat on my lap at the front of the car. Strapped in, he was ready for what I could only describe as a desert roller coaster. There were ups, downs and even sideways slides traversing the towering dunes. All of this was against a bright amber sky that melted into golden vanilla. A spectacular visual ride, with commentary by Caius along the way. Take a look:

The cars started to slow down and congregated around a small valley surrounded by tunes. From this vantage point, we faced West and soaked up the impressive sunset.

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The kids found more entertainment in jumping and sliding around the steep dunes and playing with the sand. Erin got into the mood by throwing herself down the hill.

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By now our shoes (and ears) were full of sand, so we hopped back into the car with rumbling tummies for our next destination – dinner! This was only another short minute drive away.

We grabbed some prime seats near the main stage and the kids took no time waiting to make a bee-line straight for the free camel ride. They really enjoyed that, even though it was over after just 1 short minute.

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There were free soft drinks available and pre-dinner snacks like mini-shwarma wraps available at the main food tent. Other tents offered free henna tattoos and souvenirs for sale. Erin couldn’t resist a tattoo, but shortly after Caius managed to tumble onto Erin’s inked arm and smudged it into oblivion.

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At the MC’s request we grabbed our seats in anticipation for the first show. A local spinning gentleman, dressed in an array of brightly coloured clothing that would make a rainbow look drab. His physical feats were impressive and rhythmic Arabic music slightly entrancing. Next, he invited a few unsuspecting guests to try his dance, complete with spinning cloak. The results were humorous.

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Mia couldn’t resist herself and volunteered to be his dance partner (by that, I mean she ran into the middle of the stage and just joined in) which he gladly accepted. He spun Mia round and round which resulted in a hilarious attempt of her walking back to us in a straight line. She looked more like a drunken child swaying in the wind struggling to keep balance.  

Fully entertained, the next portion of the night was filled with culinary delights and dinner was served. It was a line-up buffet formation with choices of many local dishes from kebabs, roasted chicken, beans, rice and salads as well as a couple more international dishes like spaghetti with meatballs.

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At this point, I realised my phone was no longer in my pocket. That wasn’t good news. It could have fallen out at the pitstop we made to watch the sunset, or even earlier. I was hoping it had fallen out of my pocket in the car with the topsy-turvy driving, but since the car was locked we couldn’t find out until the end of the night.

Of course any Arabian dinner and show could not be complete without a belly dancer. After dinner a talented dancer graced the stage with a series of dances to entrancing music. After she impressed the diners (I’m sure the men were more impressed) with her flexibility, coordination and stomach muscle control, the MC announced that due to restrictions by the tourism authority, they weren’t allowed to permit other adults dancing with her, however they couldn’t stop children.

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Naturally, Mia could not resist and wowed the audience with her incredible dancing skills. Caius made a brief appearance but got a little shy and made a dash for the sidelines. Mia’s comment to Erin afterwards was “Mummy, I can’t dance like her because I don’t have any boobies!”. So cute!

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The night wrapped up and we were all dog-tired so we retreated quickly to the car to meet our driver. To our relief I found my phone under the car seat and the reunited gadget received a special cuddle. The ride home was a blur between snoozing and watching the blurring highway lights. I did manage to wake up to catch a glimpse of the unmissable Burj Kahlifa, standing out of the cityscape, dwarfing the towers around it. The coming weekend also heralded the UAE’s National Day which celebrated the founding of the country 42 years ago. We spotted locals parked along the highway having a BBQ of sorts – sitting around campfires in the desert and letting off fireworks. What a fun and unique way to get into the swing of the long weekend, Dubai-style, and a fitting way to finish up our whirlwind week in one of the most incredible cities in the world.

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Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Gina Nitschke on
Wow! You were very brave to go on a tour the night that your flight was due to leave, definitely proof that you are 'seasoned' travelers now ;-) Your photos are stunning though, and it looks as though it was a very worthy experience to have on your last night in Dubai.
Posted by Tarana on
I'm in Dubai and I've never done a desert safari, mainly because I have a toddler! Your account was a wonderful read, and the photos are just fantastic!
Posted by Jade Johnston on
Holy Moly... looks like a full on tour. It's a good price for all the experiences you had. I'm a stress person so I would have been freaking out when the pick up was late!
Posted by Nicole on
Love the photos!! I have always wanted to visit Dubai and after seeing those photos I only want to go more! The tour sounds great, will have to keep this in mind for our own visit.
Posted by Kate on
So glad you had a good time here in Dubai. It's an amazing city and country. We have lived here a year now and love it. Just did a desert safari last week and it's always fun.
Posted by Malik Asad on
This is an obligatory Arabian Night Desert Safarifor everyone who wants to experience the thrill and excitement on the dunes of desert. The tour begins from your place of lodging in the afternoon you will driven in the 4x4 dubai safari vehicle to the outskirts of Dubai to desert area.
Posted by Asia Pacific travels & Tourism on
Desert Safari certainly brings a unique opportunity to feel the thrill of riding a bike and adventurous moment to spend in a luxurious car with sightseeing activities. Once you experience it you would always want to come back and do it again and again.
Posted by Manjulika Pramod on
Hey,
I had a great time at the Desert Safari Too...
Wow... lovely pictures... m sure your kids had a great time..
Posted by Chanel | Cultural Xplorer on
What a fun adventure and Mia's comment was hilarious! I will definitely look into taking a sand dune tour too :D
Posted by Paul Simons on
Dubai..!! So many times I have been there.!! Best part is the positivity of this place and the people are so freaking great.!!!
I love the Desert Safari Dubai very much.
Posted by Red Rock on
Dubai is a perfect place to spend holidays..!!
Posted by Right Travel on
Your journey looks great. Nice article.., and the photos are just fantastic!
Posted by La Vacanza Travel on
This seems like an amazing experience.
Posted by Fatima Hussain on
From all these fun photos described in this post, I find that little kid with that dancer girl looks adorable. However, I also leaving for Dubai trip and included a night at the desert. For making my trip hassle free I already hired an agency as "tour-Dubai". Hope my trip will be full of fun like yours.
Posted by Aditi Singh on
I agree with you. Dubai is such a very nice place for vacation and holidays. Ive been to desert safari with my family for a reasonable price. Ive made some purchase in CityCard Dubai and how I wish that it should never end. I love the place, the service and everything in it.
Posted by Ght_House on
Nice.thunk you for sharing.Dubai is a great place for tourist and everything is developed and managed according to tourists and for tourist only. That’s why tourist love Dubai and every year a huge number of people visit Dubai.
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