Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dubai Desert Safari: Dune Bashing, Camel Ride, BBQ Dinner, Belly Dance, Shisha Smoke and More!

When in Dubai a trip to the desert offers you the most exhilarating, enchanting and magical adventure of a lifetime. With so many desert safari tours to choose from, picking one may seem like a daunting task. But booking a good tour can make all the difference. 

Ours is listed as one of the top 10 operators by the Department of Tourism in Dubai. We chose Charlie, a fellow Filipino ( Dubai-based experienced driver for 11 years) so that we can control the intensity of the sand dune bashing to avoid motion sickness.  

The tour comes with a complete hotel pick up and drop-off service via a gleaming white Toyota 4wd Land Cruiser. Pick up time approximately 03:00 PM. 6-7 persons can be accommodated. back seats are not the best if you want to take good photos.

While waiting for other groups to gather, we stopped at a nearby supermarket for all sorts of pasalubong finds, from keychains to ref magnets to the famous Emirati red and white checkered head scarf which retails for 20 AED ( 1 AED = P12.65 ) It is also highly advisable to go the washrooms now because the desert dune bashing will be 45 mins non-stop.

An organized dune bashing, a tradition to drive in a convoy to the desert.  My mental headcount tells me that we are a group of 40 4wds Land Cruiser. Indeed, the more the merrier! It’s amazing how each driver seemed to know where to enter the queue. There was a track and all vehicles religiously followed. Experienced drivers leave zero chance of collision.

The thrilling roller coaster ride started when Charlie deflated the tires. We were told to buckle up and soon after, we were racing up sand dunes, climbing dune mountains and hitting angles that felt as if we were going to flip over! We hung on to dear life, shrieked out loud and giggled to our hearts content.
The nerve-wrecking part is when the driver takes it slow at first then drives the vehicle to a peak. Within 2 seconds, we held our breaths as we plunge deep into the sand below. This went on for about 30 mins. ( Avoid motion sickness by making sure you’re on an empty stomach. Bring candies should you start to feel queasy )

Best piece of advice ever: choose the evening desert safari,  it sets it apart from all the rest.  A breathtaking view of the vast desert will give you the photo-ops to catch the stunning sunset over a tranquil scenery. 

OOTD: Megan Maxi Skirt by: Apartment 8 Clothing / Camo-chic dress worn as top by: Plains & Prints

How does it feel to be here? Priceless!

What makes it extra special is being with these wonderful people at this very moment! 

We kicked off our shoes, frolicked bare foot and found the sand incredibly fine to the touch

Here's us attempting to remake the glitzy and glamorous ladies from The Sex and the City (SATC) Movie Part 2 shot in Abu Dhabi ( minus the Manolo Blahnik's and Dior of course! tee-hee)

Bursting into laughter as we embark on a trip of a lifetime to the exotic world of Middle East

A quick stop at the camel farm before heading back to the campsite

After bidding farewell to the sun over the dunes, darkness descends quickly and temperature begun to drop. We're definitely in store for a cold, chilly night out at the Bedouin campsite.

Relax beside a bonfire and marvel at the star-filled night sky 

Charlie told us to grab a good spot near the center stage for the best view of tonight's performances

If this is a dream, I'm not going to wake up. But if I'm awake I won't close my eyes again! It's like talking a step back in time and experiencing Dubai as it was some 50 years ago.

The campsite is well-appointed with traditional Arabic carpets and decor

We were treated to demonstrations of various cultural activities

Such as photo-ops with the UAE's National Bird, the Falcon which symbolizes force and courage

A chance to wear the traditional Arabic dresses

Enjoy the flavored shisha ( Arabic water pipe ) smoking facility

Sand skiing especially for the adventure lovers

An ATV Ride

And this oh so spectacular camel ride!

Long ago, camels were trained to withstand long and arduous journeys. Now these camels went on to become the desert dwellers primary source of transport, shade, milk, meat, wool  and hides.

I had fantasies of riding a camel in a caftan or a long flowy dress. Tonight, I’m making my dreams come true! This is a midst various friendly warnings that it would be better to just wear jeans bundled up with a sweater on the cold campsite.

In reality, camels tend to be good-tempered, patient and intelligent. Can I mention friendly too? They come near you and want to snuggle, they often like to be caressed.

Now all these activities surely made us hungry. Be prepared for the lavish BBQ dinner buffet in store for us! Start off with this mouthwatering  freshly baked Arabic/Lebanese bread ( to dip this in hummus + extra virgin olive oil is heavenly! )

An authentic shawarma fresh off the grill!

Then there's grilled meat, chicken and fish. A wonderful aroma fills the enter campsite

Local specialties mostly healthy salads and beans

More food pics

End the meal with unlimited dates, tea and coffee ( softdrinks and water also available) 

A friend showing off her pretty henna tattoo while watching the Russian belly dancer

From the sumptuous dinner now comes the mesmerizing performance of a professional belly dancer. Belly dance is the traditional dance of the Arabs. So graceful that one would definitely want to join her.

One of the highlights of the desert safari is the Tanoura Dance. It is usually performed by Sufi men from Egypt wearing long colorful skirts. This Egyptian folk dance entails the dancer to rhythmically whirl/spin non-stop for more than 20 minutes while showing off geometrical patterns, bright colors and tubes of light on their attire.

Charmed by the magical and star-lit sky at the campsite? Guests may opt to avail of the overnight desert safari to experience the true sounds and flavor of the desert. An overnight stay in the tents.
For us, we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel armed with beautiful memories enough to last a lifetime. The Desert Safari is the ultimate travel experience When in Dubai.

OOTD: Megan Maxi Skirt by: Apartment 8 Clothing / Camo-chic dress worn as top by: Plains & Prints