Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dubai Desert Safari

I pride myself on trying to find off the beaten track sorts of things when I travel. I enjoy meeting locals and exploring without an agenda. With all of this said, I couldn't go to Dubai without seeing the desert, so I booked a desert safari. I knew it would be a tourist trap, but I did it anyway. And even though it is nowhere near authentic, I would recommend going on one if you happen to find yourself there.

Here's how it went:

I booked the excursion from, gasp, my hotel with a friend from the workshop I was taking. We were picked up from the hotel in an SUV with four other people. I was fortunate to be told by the very large man in the red shirt, we will call him Big Red for storytelling purposes, that I should sit in the front. Score!

Out of town we drive with Big Red talking loudly on his phone and me admiring the change of scenery from ample sky scrapers to barren desert. It was fantastic. We soon pulled up to a small grocery store and were informed by Big Red that we needed to go to the wash room. We all obediently followed orders. Upon our return to the car we were each given a plastic bag. We were informed that it was in case we got sick on the ride in the dunes. Yet another reason I was happy to be sitting in the front seat. I had also taken a motion sickness pill before we left. Off we went into the desert.

Me, my new friend and a falcon.
The video doesn't really do the whole experience justice. It was pretty intense driving around the dunes, watching other vehicles get stuck and slide down the sides. Big Red would point out various vehicle troubles to me throughout the drive. I told him that I was happy that I had a safe driver. He said that his company never got stuck. I wish I could say that I was alone in the desert with my thoughts like the photos suggest, but I would be lying. There were nineteen other SUV's caravanning along with us. But we did get to stop at various places along the way to meet a falcon or admire the sun setting over the sand.

Hubbly, Bubbly Shisha Man
After a long and windy drive up and over many sandy hills, the ride was over and my stomach was very happy for that. We then drove about twenty minutes further on a road to the campsite. My friend, Kate,
Desert Campsite
Belly Dancing Show
and I were the first to hop out of the car and up to the camel riding spot. Up we went seated on top of the poor guy. It was not a smooth ride, but it is just one of those things that you just have to do. Getting down is the tricky part, not for you for the camel. I wish I had a video of that because you have to see it to believe it. Luckily it was a short ride, and my bucket list item was complete. I felt sorry for the camel though because his night was just beginning. In the campsite there were different tents with things to do like henna for the ladies and hubbly bubbly shisha (better known as hooka). After some tea and relaxing pillow-side next to the tables, a large buffet barbecue dinner was brought out. It was barbecue in the sense that there was lots of grilled meat. Everything else was a local dish of some sort including a lentil curry, hummus, tabbouleh and a whole lot more. The night ended with a belly dancing show and a quiet ride home. It was a perfect way to end the week.

Me and Kate on a camel sporting our new pants.