Booking in advance for a desert safari tour is recommended. Depending on the operator, it can cost anywhere from AED 150 to over 400. The price includes pick-up / drop-off at your hotel or designated pick-up points in the city between 1500 and 1600 hrs plus entertainment and BBQ buffet dinner. Transport will either be on a small bus or one of the 4-wheel drive vehicles. I recommend that you take a look at going with Unique Tour.
Depending on the Dubai traffic condition of the day, the journey from Dubai to the first mandatory stop before the actual ride commences can be 45 minutes or more. This pit stop is critical as you can see the drivers all scrambling to deflate the tires in preparation for the real desert adventure ride. It is also the last chance to make a biological stop or grab some quick refreshments.
After an initial short bumpy ride of about 10 min, you will arrive in the operator’s base camp. Here, you have a chance to ride one of the safari bikes for a fee (AED 50 for 10 minutes).
As you can see, first timers will likely fall off or stir up a little sand storm and help is always on standby to assist anyone out of any of these not so pleasant and dangerous situations. Don’t be too adventurous, always watch where you are going and maintain a good grip and speed.
Just when you thought you have the whole desert for yourself, more guests started arriving. Once the guests were gathered together, the available 4×4 vehicles were formed into a convoy. This was lead by a convoy leader but each individual driver can maneuver through the desert whichever way he deems fit. Up and down slopes of steep inclines (estimated 30% or more) with sudden directional sways of the steering wheel, all the while with swift changes of gear seem to be a hallmark of desert driving in order to keep moving to avoid getting sand stuck or force to slide down from failing to negotiate a slope.
As you can imagine, trying to take decent photographs while on constant jerky, bumpy grounds through the desert proved to be another challenge itself. Just take a look at our driver’s intense concentration and driving skills yet he managed to make all on board felt sufficiently relax (and somewhat safe). I reckoned all of us had seat belts on but he apparently had no need for one. Warning! The ride can be very hard and exhilarating if you have not done anything similar before so do not go with a full stomach. It must have been 20 minutes or so before the ride was finally over (without one consciously knowing it) and the convoy made its way once again back to base camp. Here, the camel and bird handler started parading, enticing guests for a (very short) ride or have the bird perch on their arms to take a snap for a nominal fee of AED 10. It was kind of fun watching the female guests screamed when the camels stood up and sat down simply to enable mounting and dismounting.
Dubai Adventure: Desert Tour Wed 19 Dec 2007.
To be continued …