No trip to Dubai can be complete without experiencing the actual sun and sand of this desert city. Several tour operators give various packages for the desert safari. We went for a package that included pick and drop from Dubai, dune bashing, camel riding, quad bikes, henna tattooing, dance performances in a desert camp, Arabic coffee and dinner. We booked our tour through recommendations received from family and set out for our ride along with another family from Great Britain. After a relatively long drive to get out of the city, we first stopped at a souvenir shop where people could buy knickknacks before all the fun of dune bashing. Soon after, we entered the desert and almost immediately took another break while our driver deflated the tires. The tires needed to be deflated so that the land cruisers could get some traction over the loose sand.
After that, the cars all started in a single file although they did break out at intervals so that the ride did not feel monotonous. Despite that this was super fun, but, if you have someone in your group who has motion sickness or a bad back you might not enjoy it as much. Unfortunately, the other lady in the car had a bad back and was also afraid of roller-coaster-like rides so she would not allow the driver to go too fast. Luckily, our driver realized that me and Gunjan wanted a little more thrill and would eventually drive so that it felt as if we were going to overturn or fall . To be frank, I think even he didn’t like the fact that he was being told not to drive fast.
In between all the dune bashing fun, we stopped at a few places including a camel farm and various other points with photo opportunities.
We then headed towards our desert camp for the balance part of our program. Here there was a beautiful low seating against the sands and the setting sun. While we waited for the dances to begin, we got a few pictures clicked wearing the traditional dresses of the people there.
Gunjan had never ridden a camel before so we decided to start with a short camel ride. There was also a small racetrack where you could drive a rented quad bike. Now the rent for the quad bike was 150 dirham for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, had forgotten all our money at home bar 100 dirham. I can see all of you being sad for us thinking that we were not able to drive the quad bike. But don’t be. Here’s why. While I was chatting with the owner of the quad bikes he let out that he was from Pakistan but his ancestors were from Amritsar. Now guess who else is from Amritsar? Naah, not me. Leave it to us to find a connection or in the Indian way of saying things “jugaad”. Long story short, we not only got the quad bikes at less than 100 dirhams but managed to get it for an unlimited time. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a bad bargain for the owner. Once other people saw how much fun me and Gunjan were having, he managed to rent out all his bikes in the 20-25 minutes that we were out there. By this time we were both hungry and decided to get our dinner while we waited for the dances to begin. The food was nothing much to rave about although the Arabic coffee with the dates was awesome. There were 2 main performances for the evening and it started with the Tandura dance. In this dance, the performer wears a heavy colourful skirt (above 20 kgs) and keeps whirling while performing different acts. At the end of the dance, he called several people to try dancing with the skirt but no-one was able to manage it for more than a minute or two.
But the most awaited performance was the belly dance. This was performed by a beautiful dancer with some amazing moves. Earlier, people were allowed to come and dance with the belly dancer but apparently, some people had misbehaved with one of the dancers and the government has banned operators from allowing people to come up and dance with the belly dancer.
After the dances, it was another long drive before we were dropped back to the house. All in all, this was the best part of the trip and personally, I feel the only worthwhile thing to do in Dubai.
Video clips of the dances next week :-)