Desert Safari Help Center

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Category: General Questions

What’s included in a desert safari tour?

Most desert safari tours include transportation to and from the desert, a thrilling dune bashing experience, a traditional Bedouin camp visit, various activities like sandboarding and camel riding, cultural entertainment shows, and a delicious BBQ dinner. Some tours may also offer additional activities like henna painting or stargazing.

How much does a desert safari tour cost?

A: The price can vary depending on the duration, inclusions, season, and tour company. Budget tours start around 100 AED per person, while standard tours range from 200-400 AED. Luxury experiences with premium amenities can cost upwards of 500 AED per person.

What time of day are tours offered?

A: Most desert safaris operate in the afternoon and evening for cooler temperatures. Tours typically start between 3 pm and 4 pm and last for 4-6 hours, returning to Dubai around sunset (8 pm – 9 pm). Some companies offer evening or overnight desert safari options.

What should I wear on a desert safari tour?

A: Comfort is key! Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from cotton or linen. Long sleeves and pants will protect you from the sun and sand. Sturdy shoes or sandals with good grip are ideal for the terrain. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a headscarf (optional) for extra sun protection.

Do I need sun protection?

A: Absolutely! The desert sun is strong. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher before heading out, reapply every two hours, and seek shade whenever possible. Staying hydrated with plenty of water is also crucial to avoid heatstroke.

Category: Logistics & Safety

How long do tours typically last?

Most desert safari tours in Dubai last for 4-6 hours. This includes travel time to and from the desert location, the dune bashing experience, time spent at the Bedouin camp participating in activities and enjoying dinner, and the return trip to Dubai.

There can be some variation depending on the specific tour. Some shorter tours might focus primarily on dune bashing and last closer to 4 hours, while overnight desert safaris can extend beyond 6 hours and include additional activities like stargazing.

Can I bring children?

Yes, many desert safari tours are child-friendly! However, it’s always best to check with the tour operator beforehand. Some companies may have age restrictions for certain activities, such as dune bashing, which can be bumpy and jarring.

Here are some things to consider when bringing children:

  • Age: Younger children might find the bumpy ride during dune bashing uncomfortable.
  • Interests: Choose a tour with activities that will keep your children engaged, such as sandboarding or camel rides.
  • Attention span: Be prepared to entertain your children during any travel time between locations.

Is it safe for pregnant women?

Due to the bumpy nature of dune bashing, it is generally not recommended for pregnant women to go on a desert safari tour. The sudden movements and jolts can be risky for both mother and baby.

It’s always best to consult with your doctor before participating in any strenuous activity, especially during pregnancy. Some tour companies may offer alternative experiences that exclude dune bashing, which could be suitable for pregnant women.

What type of vehicle is used?

Desert safaris are typically conducted in 4×4 vehicles with high ground clearance. These vehicles are specifically designed to handle the rough terrain of the desert, with features like large tires and powerful engines. They also have roll cages and safety belts for passenger protection.

Are there restrooms available?

Most desert safari camps have basic restroom facilities available for guests. The level of amenities may vary depending on the tour company and the specific camp location. It’s always a good idea to use the restroom facilities before leaving for the desert, just in case.

Category: Activities & Inclusions

What is dune bashing?

Dune bashing is the heart-pounding highlight of many desert safari tours. It’s an exciting off-road adventure where the driver skillfully navigates the 4×4 vehicle up, down, and across the sand dunes.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Thrilling ride: The driver will accelerate up the sandy slopes, causing the vehicle to crest and dip, creating a roller coaster-like experience.
  • Sharp turns: Expect sharp turns and maneuvers as the driver positions the vehicle for the next climb or descent.
  • Adrenaline rush: The combination of speed, inclines, and loose sand creates a thrilling and exhilarating experience.

Are there other activities besides dune bashing?

Yes, most desert safari tours offer a variety of activities beyond the adrenaline rush of dune bashing. Here are some common options:

  • Sandboarding: Slide down the sandy slopes on a board, similar to snowboarding but on sand. It’s a fun way to experience the desert landscape from a different perspective.
  • Camel Riding: Take a short ride on a camel, a traditional mode of desert transportation. It’s a chance to appreciate the history and culture of the desert region.
  • Henna Painting: Get a temporary henna design applied to your hands or arms. This is a popular cultural activity that allows you to take home a unique souvenir.
  • Entertainment Shows: Enjoy traditional performances like belly dancing and the whirling dervishes (Tanoura dance) at the Bedouin camp.

What kind of food is served?

A typical desert safari tour includes a BBQ dinner with a variety of grilled meats, salads, and other dishes. Common options might include kebabs, shish tawook (marinated chicken), grilled vegetables, and Arabic mezze (appetizers).

Are drinks included?

The inclusion of drinks can vary depending on the tour company. Some tours may include water and soft drinks with the meal, while others may charge extra. It’s always best to check with the tour operator beforehand to avoid any surprises. You can also bring your water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the tour.

Are there vegetarian options?

Many desert safari tours offer vegetarian options! However, it’s important to communicate your dietary restrictions when booking the tour. This allows the tour company to prepare vegetarian dishes in advance for your meal.

Category: Culture & Wildlife

What kind of wildlife can I see?

The wildlife you encounter on a desert safari tour will depend on the specific location, time of day, and a bit of luck. However, here are some animals you might spot:

  • Oryx: The majestic Arabian Oryx, with its long, straight horns, is a critically endangered species making a comeback in the desert.
  • Gazelles: Several gazelle species inhabit the desert, including the fleet-footed Sand Gazelle and the slightly larger Arabian Gazelle.
  • Foxes: The nimble Fennec Fox, with its oversized ears, and the shy Red Fox are both potential sightings.
  • Camels: While not wild animals, camels are a familiar sight in the desert and may be present at the Bedouin camp or used for rides.
  • Birds: Look out for a variety of desert birds adapted to the arid environment, such as eagles, falcons, and hoopoes.

Keep in mind: Wildlife spotting is not guaranteed, and sightings will depend on various factors. However, desert safari tours often take place in areas with a focus on conservation, so you might be lucky and see some amazing creatures.

Is there a dress code?

There’s no strict dress code for a desert safari tour. However, since you might visit a Bedouin camp, dressing modestly is recommended, especially for women. This means covering your shoulders and knees.

Here are some tips for dressing appropriately:

  • Loose, comfortable clothing: Opt for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen.
  • Long sleeves and pants: Protect yourself from the sun and sand.
  • Head covering: A hat or headscarf is helpful to shield yourself from the sun.
  • Closed-toe shoes: Sturdy shoes are ideal for walking on sand dunes.

What is a Bedouin camp?

A Bedouin camp is a traditional dwelling used by nomadic Bedouin tribes who have inhabited the deserts of the Middle East for centuries. These camps are typically made of goat hair or wool, creating a lightweight and portable structure.

During your desert safari tour, you might visit a recreated Bedouin camp that allows you to experience the hospitality of the desert people. These camps may have furnished tents, carpets, and seating for relaxation, along with opportunities to participate in cultural activities like henna painting or enjoying traditional music and dance.

Can I buy souvenirs?

Yes, many desert safari camps have shops selling traditional souvenirs. These might include items like hand-woven carpets, Bedouin jewelry, spices, and locally-produced crafts. It’s a great opportunity to take home a unique memento of your desert adventure.

Be sure to bargain politely if you’re interested in purchasing something, as this is a common practice in the region.

Category: Booking & Payments

How far in advance should I book a tour?

The ideal booking time for a desert safari tour in Dubai can vary depending on the season and popularity of the specific tour you choose. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Peak Season (November to April): Tours tend to book up faster during this period with ideal weather conditions. It’s recommended to book at least 2-4 weeks in advance to secure your spot, especially for popular tours or weekend departures.
  • Shoulder Seasons (May, September & October): You might have some flexibility with booking during these months. Booking 1-2 weeks in advance should be sufficient, but earlier is always better if you have specific preferences.
  • Off-Season (June to August): The hottest months see fewer tourists. Booking a desert safari tour a week or even a few days in advance might be possible, but it’s still advisable to check availability beforehand.

Here are some additional tips:

  • If you have a specific date in mind, especially during peak season, book as soon as possible.
  • Look for deals and promotions offered by tour companies, which might be available for last-minute bookings during the off-season.
  • Consider the type of experience you desire. Exclusive or luxury tours might require booking further in advance.

What payment methods are accepted?

Most desert safari tour companies in Dubai offer various payment options for your convenience. Here are some common methods:

  • Credit Card: Widely accepted by most tour operators. This allows for secure online booking and payment confirmation.
  • Debit Card: This may be accepted by some companies, but check with the tour operator beforehand.
  • Online Payment Gateways: Secure platforms like PayPal might be offered for online transactions.
  • Cash on Arrival: Some tours, particularly smaller operators, might accept cash payment upon arrival at the pick-up location. However, confirm this option with the company before booking.

It’s always best to check the specific payment methods accepted by the tour company you choose during the booking process.

Is cancellation refundable?

Cancellation policies for desert safari tours in Dubai can vary depending on the tour operator and the amount of notice you provide before canceling. Here’s a general idea:

  • Full Refund: Some companies offer a full refund if you cancel within a specific window, often 24-48 hours before the tour departure.
  • Partial Refund: Cancellation closer to the departure date might result in a partial refund, with a cancellation fee deducted from the total cost.
  • No Refund: Strict cancellation policies might apply, especially for last-minute cancellations or no-shows.

Always carefully review the cancellation policy of the tour operator before booking. This will help you understand the potential financial implications of canceling your reservation.

Category: Experience & Preferences

What type of desert safari experience are you looking for?

  • Luxury: For a luxurious and pampered experience, choose a high-end tour. These tours offer exclusive transportation like SUVs, premium amenities at the desert camp (think comfortable seating, air-conditioned tents), gourmet meals, and personalized service.
  • Adventure: If you crave an adrenaline rush, opt for an adventure-focused tour. These tours might include high-intensity dune bashing, opportunities for quad biking or sandboarding, and potentially stargazing at night.
  • Family-Friendly: Many tours cater specifically to families with children. These tours will prioritize safety, offer shorter dune bashing experiences, and include kid-friendly activities like camel rides and henna painting.

Are there different tour options depending on the season?

Yes, there can be some variations in desert safari tours depending on the season:

  • Summer (June-August): The scorching heat might limit some activities, and some tours might operate at slightly modified times (evening or overnight tours) to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Winter (November-April): This is the peak season with ideal weather conditions. You’ll find the widest variety of tour options available, including daytime tours, evening tours, and overnight desert experiences.
  • Shoulder Seasons (May, September & October): These months offer a good balance between weather and tour options. You might find some seasonal promotions or discounts during these periods.

How comfortable are you with heights and a bumpy ride?

Dune bashing is a thrilling experience, but it involves climbing and descending steep sand dunes, creating a bumpy and sometimes jolting ride.

  • If you’re comfortable with heights and enjoy a bit of an adrenaline rush, you’ll likely have a blast.
  • If you have concerns about heights or get motion sickness easily, consider tours that offer milder dune-bashing experiences or focus on other activities like camel rides.

Here’s a tip: Most tour operators will mention the intensity level of the dune bashing experience in their tour descriptions. This can help you choose a tour that suits your comfort level.