Top 5 things do in Dubai’s desert
Dune driving, desert wildlife safaris and more in Dubai
There’s a reason why they call Dubai the desert city. Make the most of our serene sandy landscape with a range of fun activities, whether you’re looking to raise the adrenaline with quad-biking or relax on a luxury overnight escape.
There are few experiences that are as ‘Dubai’ as the desert safari. Take a backseat (unless you prefer to sit at the front of your four-wheeled drive) and hold on tight as an experienced driver whips you around the sand dunes, teetering on the edge of seemingly sheer drops, before dipping down sandy slopes and back up again. There’s a couple of stops for sunset photos before you’re safely whisked away to a traditional-style Bedouin camp, where an Arabic buffet dinner awaits.
Direct your taxi driver to Dubai’s most famous sand dune, Big Red, where you can hop on a quad bike and navigate the sandy landscape yourself. Available to hire by the half hour, the quad bikes are speedy and a helmet must be worn while riding. Follow the natural trail of the dunes, kicking sand in the face of your fellow riders as you hurtle and bounce over Dubai’s most iconic patch of sand. Big Red, or Al Hamar as it’s locally known, is easy to spot along the Dubai-Hatta (E44) highway. Ask your driver to wait, or hire one for the day.
TAKE ON THE DUNES
This is one for true adrenaline-seekers. Strap this snowboard-like contraption to your feet and glide down the dunes just like you would at the slopes of Ski Dubai. While it’s possible to rent a sand board at Big Red, there are a number of companies – such as Dream Explorer Dubai – that offer the full experience. The five-hour morning safari and sandboarding package starts off with a desert safari in a Hummer and ends with a sandboarding session, where you’ll learn all the tips for making it down the dune smoothly.
VINTAGE LANDROVER SAFARI
Dubai-based luxe tour operators Platinum Heritage offers a number of desert safaris in Series 1 Landrovers through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where you can spot native wildlife and Arabian Oryx. Onboard this vintage vehicle, guests are taken through an authentic desert experience dating back to the 1950s. Choose the morning wildlife safari and finish off with a traditional Emirati breakfast and storytelling by a local Bedouin, or opt for the night safari, where you’ll stop for stunning sunsets and cap it off with a scrumptious meal at a royal desert retreat. For a truly exclusive treat, embark on the private astronomy tour, which will enlighten you on Arabian astronomy and bring you up-close-and-personal with nocturnal desert creatures (aided by a professional guide of course).
WHEN YOU NEED TO RELAX
If camping is not really your thing, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve takes glamping to another level, with luxury tented-style villas, each featuring its own private infinity pool.
It’s a place for relaxation rather than risk-taking, with a number of chilled activities on offer, the highlight being the sunset camel rides over the rolling dunes, where you can enjoy a beverage as you take in the uninterrupted views. Ask for a villa overlooking one of the natural oases, where you can watch gazelles and Arabian oryx stop in for a drink.