Desert Safari in the UAE

A Guide to a Desert Safari Experience in the UAE 

This is a guide to a Desert Safari experience in the UAE, one of the most thrilling experiences you could have. This was number 1 on my list of things to do, so I booked a tour through GetYourGuide for my mum, sisters, and me.  


If you’re going on your first Desert Safari experience here is a guide on everything you need to know.  

Should you go on a Desert Safari in Dubai or Abu Dhabi? 

When you think about a Desert Safari, Dubai is probably the first thing that comes to mind. It’s the most popular emirate to experience the activity, but this also makes it very crowded. I spent 12 days in the UAE, 8 days in Abu Dhabi and 4 days in Dubai so decided to have my Desert Safari experience in Abu Dhabi.  

The desert camps in the Al Khatim Desert in Abu Dhabi are not overcrowded, which can provide a certain level of comfort you may not get on a Dubai Desert Safari; however, Abu Dhabi is more expensive than Dubai. Apart from these 2 things, everything else is essentially the same, just decide what’s important to you.  

How much does a Desert Safari cost in Abu Dhabi & How to book one? 

This depends on the package you buy. You can book a Desert Safari directly from tour companies which you can find on websites like:  

  • Get Your Guide: I booked a group package from here which was on sale for €84.47 per person. It was an all-inclusive tour and came with hotel pick-up and drop-off, all tour activities and dinner. I booked a private book tour which allowed up to 6 people on the tour for the price of 4 people.  
  • Hotel Concierge: Another option is to book directly from your hotel concierge. They usually provide you with options from tour providers, although this tends to be more expensive than the options above.  

Related: Resources to book your travels

The best time to go on a Desert Safari

The UAE summer sun is nothing to joke with. This is why tour companies operate at sunrise, from 6 am to noon, and sunset from 4 pm to late. This ensures the sun isn’t unbearable at the time of the Safari.  

How long does a Desert Safari take? 

A Desert Safari takes roughly 6 hours from the moment you’re picked up from your hotel till you are dropped off at the end.  

What to wear on a Desert Safari

Desert Safari in Abu Dhabi

You’re walking through heavy sand in the somewhat hot sun so the best thing to wear is light and airy clothing with comfortable shoes.  

Things to do on a Desert Safari

The best thing about a Desert Safari is that they are often all-inclusive and include a range of activities to enjoy like: 

  • Visit a Camel Farm: The Camel Farm was our first stop right before going into the desert, expect to spend about 15 minutes here petting the adult and baby camels in the middle of the desert, the whole thing is picturesque.  
  • Dune Bashing: think of this as a 40-minute rollercoaster in a car on sand dunes. It is such an exciting, hair-raising experience. You can request the extreme or medium dune bashing experience (my group went for the medium one and absolutely LOVED it), trust me, the extreme experience is not for the faint-hearted.
  • Sandboarding & Photo Stop: After Dune Bashing, you stop at a spot for about 20 minutes to sandboard and take sunset photos in the middle of the desert. Fais, our guide/ driver also doubled as our photographer (he was amazing and so patient).  
  • Camel Rides: after sandboarding, camel rides are available in the desert camp. 
  • Quade Biking: this is sometimes included in the tour package and if it’s not, you’ll need to pay a bit extra to quad bike in the desert camp. My group and I didn’t go quad biking as it wasn’t included in our tour.  
  • Dinner & a show: this is one of the major highlights of the evening. Dinner is served, buffet style and accompanied by Belly Dancing and Tanoura (a traditional Egyptian Dance) performances.  
  • Get a henna tattoo: There’s a henna artist in the desert camp giving free henna tattoos. This was included in my tour package but I can’t be certain it’s included in other tour packages.  
  • Dress up in traditional clothing: The desert camp (can’t be sure if this is available in all desert camps) has a rack of traditional clothing for both men and women to try on. 
  • Shop: There are souvenir shops in the desert camp. I bought an Abaya and stuffed camel from the souvenir shop in the Abu Dhabi Desert Camp. 

Related post: The Ultimate UAE Travel Guide – What to see & do

3 Things you should know before going on your first Desert Safari  

Here are 3 things you should know before going on your first Desert Safari: 

  • Don’t eat at least 3 hours before: the Dune Bashing experience can be a bit nauseating, so it’s advisable not to eat at least 3 hours before, especially if you’re prone to motion sickness.  
  • Go in a group: this activity is much better if you can experience it with a group of people 
  • You should pack these: pack a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen as the sun can get quite hot.  

If you have any questions not answered in this post, let me know in the comments! I hope this helps you better prepare for your Desert Safari!  

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. If you end up booking a trip, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you!

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