Dubai is a multicultural city with unique topography. Sandy deserts and salt plains highlight the city’s landscape. That’s why no trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be complete without a desert safari adventure in Dubai. It’s one of the few adventures in the city that offers all modern and traditional Arabic experiences.
If you plan to set foot in one of Dubai’s scenic deserts, here’s everything you need to know before you book your first desert safari adventure.
Things to Know Before You Book Your First Desert Safari Tour in Dubai
You need to know a couple of things before you prepare for and book your first desert safari tour. This general information will help you understand what to expect in an outdoor adventure such as this.
What Is a Desert Safari Tour?
Desert safari tours offer day-long trips to Dubai’s accessible deserts. These challenging yet enjoyable tours are made possible with off-road vehicles, which can overcome any obstacle and cross any dunes. Travel and tour companies in Dubai offer tours with registered 4×4 vehicles—Jeep, Hummer, Land Rover, and Land Cruiser, to name a few.
Aside from the actual desert journey, a desert safari tour is packed with loads of adrenaline-pumping activities. Each tour may include popular activities like dune bashing, camel riding, quad biking, sandboarding, and camping.
Who Can Join Desert Safari Tours?
While Dubai’s desert safari tours may appeal to all age groups, some activities have age and health restrictions. There are typically no age restrictions for desert road trips in 4×4 vehicles, camping adventures, desert dinners, and other static activities. For moderate to extreme activities, refer to the list below to view the restrictions:
Recommended for travelers ages three and up. Parents or guardians are required to accompany children below ten years old. Dune bashing is not recommended for pregnant women and visitors with heart conditions and severe physical injuries.
Children below three years old are usually not allowed to partake in this activity but note that sandboarding is a safe sport.
Safe and for travelers ages three and up. Toddlers, however, should not ride alone. Camel riding is not recommended for pregnant travelers and those with chronic back pain and vertigo.
Some quad biking activities are extreme, so it is only recommended to travelers ages 10 to 50. Toddlers can share bikes with their parents or guardians if the operator is okay with it. Quad biking is not recommended for pregnant women and travelers with severe physical injuries, neck or back pain, and heart problems.
Despite these restrictions, pregnant women and travelers with physical disabilities need not worry about not enjoying desert safari tours. Travel and tour companies offer relaxed and wheel-chair accessible desert safari tours with road trips, dinner, and entertainment.
Do Desert Safari Activities Require Certain Skills?
Desert safari tours in Dubai with 4×4 road trips, traditional Arabic entertainment, wildlife safari adventures, and other static activities are open to all ages and, of course, require no physical skills and expertise. Travel and tour companies have drivers and tour guides to accompany travelers for these activities, so they are best for relaxed couples and families.
Camel riding, quad biking, and sandboarding are best for travelers who enjoy low-octane adventures. Sandboarding and quad biking are relatively easy as long as beginners have the proper equipment and know the basic instructions.
Adrenaline-pumping activities like dune bashing are not for the faint-hearted, but they’re usually the most sought-after. Dune bashing is intense motorsport with skilled drivers. It requires no skills, but you need to be mentally and physically prepared to try it.
Are Desert Safari Tours Safe and Regulated?
Desert safari tours offered by reputable travel and tour agencies are safe and regulated. Even low-octane and extreme activities are regulated. To ensure a hassle-free experience, only book and transact with reputable agencies with permits and good reviews.
All travel and tour companies in Dubai follow special health and safety measures to combat COVID-19. Desert safari tour operators in Dubai are required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and local authorities to ensure social distancing among guests, regularly sanitize vehicles and equipment, conduct temperature checks for staff and guests, and promote contactless payments. They may limit the number of passengers on some desert safari activities, depending on the local protocols.
Tourists, too, are required to follow individual safety protocols. Guests should wear face masks during the activity, avoid physical contact among staff and other guests, and submit basic personal information for contact tracing purposes.
When Is the Best Time to Book a Desert Safari Tour in Dubai?
The best time to experience a desert safari adventure in Dubai is during the winter months, typically between October to May. Summer months work, too, as long as there’s little to no rain in the area. Dubai has year-round sunshine and warm temperatures with very little rainfall. There’s plenty of time for travelers to plan and prepare their accommodations and itineraries before booking a tour with this range.
Desert safari tours are an all-day activity. There are morning, afternoon, and evening tour packages. Travel and tour companies also offer half-day tours for tourists who only have limited time.
How Long Does a Desert Safari Tour Take?
On average, travel companies offer a two-hour tour package. This package may already include the 4×4 road trip and other additional activities. Premium tour packages, however, may take four to eight hours. Whole-day tours from morning to evening come with a jam-packed itinerary covering all standard and premium activities.
What Are the Best Locations for Desert Safari Tours?
Most travel companies host activities at Al Awir, Lahbab (also known as Lehbab), Al Khayma, and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The majority of these locations are villages and communities on the outskirts of Dubai—easily accessible by tourists and travel companies.
When choosing a location, consider the group you’re bringing and the available activities in the desert. Here are some of the things you can expect from the sites mentioned above for reference:
Al Awir Desert Safari
Al Awir is 35 kilometers away from the city. It’s a community known for its rich agricultural resources and camel breeding farms. Desert safari tours in Al Awir offer some of the best dune bashing activities in Dubai.
Lahbab Red Dunes Desert Safari
Lahbab is a small village 50 kilometers south of Dubai. The main local activity in the area is camel breeding and raising. Lahbab houses some of the most extensive camel race tracks in Dubai.
Al Khayma Camp Desert Safari
The Bedouin-inspired Al Khayma Camp is one hour away from Dubai. Since it’s located outside the city, Al Khayma offers the perfect ambiance to immerse yourself in authentic Arabian culture. The desert provides some of the best traditional food, activities, and entertainment in the UAE.
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) Safari
Dubai is known for its luxury mega-projects, but little is known about its conservation campaigns and movements. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is one of the largest areas with protected nature reserves in Dubai and the world. It’s located on the outskirts of Sharjah, taking up 5% of Dubai’s total landmass.
Preparation Tips And Booking Procedures
Now that you know what desert safari tours are all about and why you should never leave Dubai without setting foot in a sand dune, let’s proceed to the actual preparations and procedures involved in booking the activity.
How to Get to the Best Desert Safari Camps
Dubai safari tours mostly come with pick-up and drop-off services. But if you prefer mini and half-day tours with no transportation service, you can reach any safari in the city by car, bus, or the metro.
Car rental companies offer daily, weekly, and monthly car hire packages. Affordable daily rates range from 30 AED to 50 AED, depending on the car’s size. From the city’s heart, public transportation options like buses and the metro cost 10 AED and up. The average travel time from the city center to any of the best safari destinations in Dubai is between 25 minutes to an hour.
What Are the Things Travelers Need to Prepare?
Travelers are expected to wear comfortable clothing and footwear that can withstand hot afternoons and cold evenings. Men can opt for loose-fitting t-shirts and pants. Some locations may require women to cover their shoulders and knees, so always bring comfortable pullovers or jackets. Travelers may wear comfortable sneakers, boots, and flip-flops, depending on the destination and activity.
The sun is always bright and strong in the morning, so it’s best to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and light shawls. These extra accessories and skincare products can ease discomfort while traveling.
If you have heavy belongings, make sure to bring small to medium-sized bags that you can conveniently carry everywhere. Travel and tour companies provide storage locations at their camps, but you’ll surely need your camera, smartphone, wallet, and other valuables with you.
Do Travelers Need to Book Prebook?
Dubai only allows registered travel and tour companies to conduct desert safari tours. So, yes, pre-booking is a must. Give the operator ample time to prepare the tour and activities based on your preferences. Also, give yourself time to come up with itineraries and organize your tour essentials.
For whole-day or long tours, book at least three days before the activity. For mini and half-day tours, book at least one day in advance. When in a rush, look for travel companies that accept walk-in tourists.
Where to Book a Desert Safari Tour in Dubai
A desert safari tour is undoubtedly the most popular tourist activity in Dubai, so the competition is tight among travel and tour companies. For this reason, it’s difficult for travelers and tourists, especially first-timers, to pick the best desert safari tour in Dubai.
The selection process would be much easier if you’ll carefully research and consider the travel company’s reputation, location, price offer, and list of activities. To help narrow down your options, here are some of the most recommended desert safari tour operators in Dubai and their existing tour packages :
OceanAir Travels – 250 AED (68 USD) to 444 AED (121 USD); Half-day to two-day tours with popular activities like quad biking, camel trekking, sandboarding, henna painting, or dune bashing.
Go Dubai Desert Safari – 60 AED (16.34 USD) to 250 AED (68 USD) per person; 4-hour and two-day tours with popular activities like quad biking, camel riding, horse riding, dune bashing, sandboarding, henna painting, falcon shows, and fire shows.
Happy Trip Tours – 15 AED (4 USD) to 451 AED (122 USD) per activity and customizable tour; Half-day to overnight safari tours with popular activities like quad biking, dune bashing, henna painting, camel riding, and falcon shows.
Platinum Heritage – 525 AED ( 143 USD) to 2,200 AED (599 USD); Half-day, private, and overnight safari tours with premium activities like activities Bedouin falcon and Saluki dogs shows, camel riding, and astronomy sessions.
Arabian Adventures – 114 AED (31 USD) to 720 AED (196 USD); 4-hour and overnight tours with popular activities like sandboarding, camel riding, henna painting, and wildlife sighting.
The majority of these Dubai desert safari ticket prices and packages already include hotel pick-up and drop-off services, in-house or freelance tour guides, and complimentary meals and drinks. Operators usually offer regional BBQ dinners and unlimited adult beverages. Still, if you want to explore more traditional cuisines and signature food in the area, there are booths, bars, and restaurants in the desert.
You can book a desert safari tour online or via phone call. Travel and tour companies have reputable websites with contact details and booking forms. Alternatively, you can visit their physical locations if they’re near your area to inquire about desert safari tour prices in Dubai and book a package right away.
Final Desert Safari Tour Tips for First-Timers
Desert safari tours are enjoyable activities, but they’re usually long and tiring. On that account, you need to evaluate your options and decisions before booking a tour. Book tours and activities based on your budget, tolerance level, health condition, and other personal factors. If you want nothing but the best adventure in Dubai, keep our guide and tips in mind as you plan your trip.
What to Do After a Desert Safari Adventure in Dubai
In just one desert safari tour, you’ll be reminded why Dubai has become one of the famous cities in the world. But while riding a 4×4 vehicle in a scenic desert is fun on its own, don’t miss the chance to try extreme and unique activities that are unique in the area.
Camel riding, dune buggying, and sandboarding are just some of the most popular activities in most desert safari tour packages in Dubai. But if you have more time and budget, try fat biking and dirt biking, hop on a hot air balloon ride, discover heritage villages, and encounter wildlife.