The cruise ship I am working on has just done a crossing over to the Middle East. During the crossing, everyone was getting excited about all the things they wanted to do and see when we got here, so after me doing a lot of research, I decided that the first thing I wanted to do was a Desert Safari.
I considered going on a Desert Safari excursion which the cruise ship organised, but there ended up being so many people who signed up, that by the time my colleagues and I came to sign up, there was only room for half of us.
As we had a group of 10 people wanting to do it, instead of doing it with the ship, we booked it independently with ‘getyourguide.com‘.
The company have brilliant recommendations and have fabulous customer service. It was straightforward to schedule the tour, and our organiser from ‘get your guide’ was happy to answer all our questions using WhatsApp instead of email, which I think is much easier.
We booked the trip about 1 week in advance which we were told was plenty of time in advance, and the tour cost £80 each.
The 10 of us were picked up at 12 noon. The jeeps we went in held five people, so we were split between two cars. The drive out of the city to the desert took about 1 hour with a toilet break in the middle. We spent the journey questioning our driver about himself and about living in Dubai. He was so helpful and eager to answer our questions. His name was Izard, and he was originally from Pakistan but was living in Dubai for work. My view out of the car window seemed to go from cloud touching skyscrapers to sand dunes, with no real graduation. The long straight tarmac road with desert either side went on forever. Although we had just left the city, looking out, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We cruised along the straight road for a while longer before joining 8 other cars full of people.
All the vehicles were parked up, I think to wait for us because as soon as we arrived every car, including ours, veered off onto the orange sand and bounced across the dunes into the distance. The sand dunes were steep and slippy so as soon as we had escalated up them, we would drop down and come crashing back on the sand. The cars followed each other, each one throwing the passengers around like rag dolls. We were lifted out of our seats multiple times, but it was hilarious.
While trying not to break my neck from the bumpy ride, I was looking out of the window at the other cars hopping through the sand. The constant rev of the engine and the sudden twist on the wheels jolted the car. We rushed up this sand dune expecting to come crashing down the other side but we didn’t, we got stuck on top of the sand dune.
Izard told us not to panic, but in all honesty, it was nice to have a break from all the bouncing, which at this point was making us all feel a little sick.
Izard got out of the car. Soon after, another vehicle pulled up to assist with what turned out to be a flat tyre. They fixed the problem, and we were back up and running within 10 minutes, which was amazing. We then continued the rough ride for another 10 minutes more, until we had caught up with all the other parked jeeps.
Everyone got out their cars and was now sand-boarding down the dunes. This was a lot of fun. You have to stand on the board as if your surrounded, and then gently push yourself down the sand dune. A lot of people didn’t do it so smoothly though, including me. I positioned myself on the board and put my weight on my right foot to push me down the slope. I did set off but as I got to the bottom of the slope the board came to a sudden stop, and I ended up going face first into the sand along with a lot of the other people.
After doing this for about 20 minutes and getting some pictures, it was time to go to the camp which only took 5 minutes. The camp was lovely. A huge round circle, almost like a circus tent without the roof. Around the edge of the circle were tents and just outside the tent, coming more into the ring, there were large tables. In the middle of the circle, there was a stage where all the shows would take place. As you walked inside the large circle of tents, in the right-hand corner was a shisha area with lovely chairs that was very crowded, and on the left corner was a bathroom with lots of toilets, showers and dressing rooms which I honestly was not expecting.
We all walked inside straight past the stage, to our tent which was opposite the entrance. An Egyptian man dressed in traditional Arab clothing welcomed us into the tent and offered us Arabic coffee and dates, which is a tradition. The coffee is bitter, so you are meant to have a bite of the sweet date before drinking the coffee to make it taste sweeter. After having a little drink, we were left to have a wander around the tent.
The sun began to set, so we made out way out of the circular camp to get a seat on the dunes to watch the sunset and get some pictures. It honestly was magical, sitting on the sand looking out at more sand and watching the day come to an end.
We all slid down the sand back towards the camp, and everyone took a seat at their table that was situated outside the tents in preparation for the shows to start. The first show was a fire-breather who was incredible! The way he swung the fire around and did some dangerous things was respectable. The second show was a belly dancer which all the boys loved. So did the girls. The way she moved was beautiful, skilful and very sexy.
Once the shows were complete, it was time for a traditional Arabic dinner. It was an ‘all you can eat’ buffet that was set up for each individual group inside their tent, while we were watching the show. To start was Arabic bread with hummus. They had lots of salad options, olives, peppers and soups. For mains, they offered rice, tagine, curry, and various other dishes that were delicious. I kept going back for more hummus because it’s my favourite and it was lovely.With the desert safari, you can book a day tour or an overnight tour. After dinner, all the people who had booked the day tour got back in their jeeps and went back home, which left our group of 10 people and two girls who were from Singapore. We had the whole camp to ourselves, so we all went and sat in the shisha tent around a big fire and spend the evening talking and laughing. They offered us different flavours of Shisha. I had apple flavour, and I think some of the others had strawberry, melon or cherry. It was terrific. I know when we think of the desert we think ‘hot’, but once the sun had gone it is freezing, so we were all given blankets while we sat around talking. At about 1 am I decided it was time for bed and I was one of the first to go. I made my way over from the shisha lounge to my tent not knowing what to expect. As I walked in, I was greeted by a tent full four-poster beds that were all covered with mosquito nets. The duvets were a beautiful vibrant red and in the centre, there was a gold table that had a fruit bowl on it with grapes, apples, and dates of course. I got changed and headed across the camp to the bathroom to take my makeup off and waved at everyone smoking Shisha. I was cleaning my face and thinking how lovely my day had been, but that it was quite scary being in the desert and having no phone signal. What if something happened? Holding my toothpaste in one hand, I tottered out of the bathroom into the pitch black desert, when suddenly I was yelled at by everyone, who had crept over from the shisha tent to make me jump. I screamed and at the same time squeezed my toothpaste, so a worm of paste shot out and landed in one of the girl’s hair. I lay on the ground trying to catch my breath as they were all stood over me in hysterics. I died a little inside.
After catching my breath, I made my way over to bed along with the others, and we all got into bed chuckling about the days events. I slept so well in my luxurious desert bed.
We were all woken up at 5.30 the next day so we could watch the sunset. I have never got dressed so quickly in my life. Izard ushered us out of the tents, and we ran out of the camp where camels were waiting for us.
We all hopped on the camels and walked across the sand watching the sunrise. It was incredible. This was my first time on a camel, and as lovely as they are, they are not the comfiest of animals. We rode the camels for about 20 minutes before returning to the camp for breakfast. The breakfast was bread, a wonderful spicy bean mix, hummus, olives and coffee, Arabic of course. A traditional Arabic breakfast that I wouldn’t choose to have every day, but it was lovely to have it then. Once we had eaten, it was time to go home, so we got ourselves all packed up and ready and hopped in our cars and left the desert behind. We all fell asleep on the ride back after another round of sand duning.
This was one of the most incredible tours I have ever been on. Izard from ‘Get Your Guide’ was the perfect escort. He was happy, informative and chatty, but not too much. The camp was lovely, clean, comfortable, with excellent facilities. The shows were very entertaining and were the perfect time length. I loved this so much and would definitely do it again, minus being scared to death in the middle of the night by my ‘friends’. I would definitely recommend doing this tour with ‘Get Your Guide’ if you can get a big group together. I think 4 as a minimum is a good number to aim for.