Dubai Desert Safari – First Time Visitors Guide

dubai desert safari

Dubai is an uber-stylish city with endless leisure, entertainment, and sightseeing options. But, did you know that this city is completely within the vast Arabian Desert? In fact, what’s a Dubai trip without connecting with its natural, unscathed desert sands? Now if you are a first-timer and don’t know how to explore the region’s pristine desert, simply read this comprehensive post on the desert safari in Dubai; it encompasses everything that you should know about this marvelous experience in the emirate.

The Arabian Desert – Quick Facts

  • The desert landscape across Dubai and the UAE as a whole is a national treasure which has a great impact on its culture, heritage, and economy.
  • More than 80% of the country’s land area is covered by the desert.
  • The UAE’s desert mainly comprises mesas (rocky outcrops), jebels (mountains), and plains, apart from sand dunes and sand sheets.
  • It may appear to be arid, harsh, and lifeless, but the isolated Arabian dunes nurture a thriving ecosystem with several unique species of animals, birds, plants, and other desert-exclusive living organisms.
  • Among the animal, bird, and reptile species that call the region’s desert home are Arabian Oryx, Falcon, Spiny-Tailed Lizard, Sand Gazelle, and Houbara.
  • Arabian gum tree and ghaf are some of the trees widely found in the Arabian Desert.

Best Locations For Desert Safari In And Around Dubai

Al Aweer: This is one of the most visited and impressive desert safari locations in Dubai. Located about 40 kilometers from the city center, it shares borders with Ras Al Khor and is close to E611 or the Emirates Road.

Al Lahbab: This hidden gem in Dubai is about 50 kilometers from the city center. Bordered by the emirate of Sharjah, Al Lahbab’s desert is striking for its mysterious yet mesmeric red desert sands.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: This protected reserve is where you get to see some of the region’s almost extinct indigenous flora and fauna in the most gorgeous way on a hot air balloon ride. It spans over 225 kilometers and is about 60 kilometers from Dubai.

Al Khatim: Situated adjacent to the E22 amidst Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, Al Khatim’s alluring sands make an amazing location for an unforgettable off-road trip. It is about 170 kilometers from Dubai.

Empty Quarter: Take a Liwa Safari which gives you the rare chance to experience the world’s largest sand desert, Rub al Khali or Empty Quarter, lying within the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is about 330 kilometers from Dubai.

camel ride in the desert in dubai

Self-Drive Or Guided Dubai Desert Safari?

Whether you opt for self-drive or guided desert safari, both have their own pros and cons. Self-drive makes it great for those who know the Arabian Desert inside out, with a clear idea on where to stop, camp, and of course what to see here. It is, however, vital that you own or have access to a reliable, high-performance 4X4 vehicle that lets you navigate the fine desert sands without any hiccup. Moreover, if you have plans to get behind the wheels, don’t forget to bring your valid international driving license.

When it comes to a guided desert safari, it is especially ideal for first-timers traveling to Dubai. With everything taken care of by your service provider, you simply have to sit back and enjoy the off-road adventure. You can further choose from a shared or private desert safari that is particularly tailor-made for you and your group. But to get the best out of your guided safari, it is an absolute must that you get it arranged through an experienced tours company such as Rayna Tours and Travels.

Top Dubai Desert Safari Categories

Dependent on your unique preferences, you can select from the following desert safari categories.

Morning Desert Safari

With the overall duration of this desert safari being just two hours, this is a favorite of those who have very limited time in Dubai. For a refreshing look at the desert surroundings, choose sunrise desert safari which lets you see first-hand the desert coming to life.

Evening Desert Safari

There is no better way to experience the enormity, serenity, and beauty of the Arabian Desert than on an evening desert safari. Contrary to a morning safari, it lasts for six to seven hours and is packed with the most exciting desert activities and intriguing Bedouin-inspired activities.

Overnight Desert Safari

This is precisely a sum up of both morning and evening desert safaris. Yes, it gives you the rare chance to see both sunset and sunrise views, along with the chance to camp under the desert sky and stars.

Unmissable Things To Do On A Dubai Desert Safari

Whichever desert safari you opt for, make sure that your desert safari includes the following:

Dune Bash

This involves a super electrifying drive over the seas of desert sands aboard a 4X4 vehicle like Hummer or Land Cruiser. Yes, feel the rush of the lifetime as your expert driver takes you on a roller coaster kind of drive across the dunes. You should do that even if you only have 48 hours in Dubai.

things to do on a dubai desert safari

Camel Ride

This relatively slow-paced activity is more than an adventure; it not only lets you take in the vastness and exquisiteness of Dubai’s desert from a different perspective but also gives you a glance at how life used to be for early Bedouins in the region’s pre-oil phase.

Sand Boarding

Want to test your balancing mettle on the desert sands? This exciting activity shouldn’t be missed while in the desert.

Quad Biking

Want to explore the desert sands with an exclusive desert adventure? Hop on to a quad bike and zoom across the desert sands in the most thrilling manner. The best thing is that you can maneuver a quad bike without any prior experience. It is even ideal for your teens above 16 years.

dubai desert

Dining, Traditional Entertainment & Cultural Activities

These are something exclusive to the evening and overnight desert safaris. Cultural activities in a desert safari range from henna tattooing, Shisha smoking, and falconry to the souvenir photographic opportunity, wearing Emirati costumes. Subject to your desert safari provider, a culinary session in Dubai’s desert is most lavish and is in the form of BBQ dining, arranged buffet style. From starters, soups, and main-course dishes to a wide array of desserts, fruits, and drinks, there will be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. As for the desert traditional entertainment, they are sure to leave you awe-struck, with the brilliant performances of belly dancers, Tanura performers, and fire artists.

dubai desert safari attractions

Best Dubai Desert Safari Tips

  • While desert safari is a year-round activity, it is most ideal to go on a desert safari in Dubai in the winter months (October to March.)
  • Avoid self-drive if you are a beginner or not sure about Dubai’s desert routes and trails.
  • Don’t zero in on your desert safari provider based on the pricing aspect alone; check for unbiased reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor and also look for inclusions such as dining, activities, etc covered in your chosen desert safari package.
  • Make sure that you choose desert safari with roundtrip hotel transfers; this allows for a totally stress-free desert trip.
  • Wear a comfortable, modest dress for your desert safari; complement your look with a comfy pair of shoes and carry essentials such as sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen lotion.

Final thoughts… 

Whether it is your debut Dubai trip or you are a returning visitor, you will never get bored of desert safari in Dubai. It is an extraordinary adventure; it not only immerses you in the sheer mystic allure of the dunes but also lets you indulge in a wide array of distinctly refreshing activities and cultural experiences.

If you like this post, please share it with your friends and follow Owl Over The World on Facebook & Instagram for more travel tips & inspiration.

Subscribe for my newsletter.

Join other travel lovers - Get free travel tips and updates straight to your inbox.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

READ NEXT