The sweeping deserts of the United Arab Emirates are synonymous with the mystique and adventure of Arabia. Their blood-orange sunsets sinking beneath the dunes – tawny, terracotta, honey-hued – are a must-see when visiting the UAE and exploring the storied sands. A huge number of travellers visiting the UAE name visiting the desert is one of their must-do activities, but for those not wanting to commit to a night under the stars, there are plenty of companies offering day trips to the desert and desert activities in the UAE. From barbecue lunches complete with dune sports to upscale dinners and game drivers, here are the best companies for a desert safari in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The best desert safaris in Dubai
As one of the UAE’s most trusted and highly rated desert activity companies, not to mention luxurious, Sonara is a failsafe company to opt for when booking a desert safari in Dubai. The company has two sites in both Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, offering two UAE desert experiences for travellers at its Sonara Camps. In Dubai, the eco-friendly camp lies in the heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and offers a more plush and premium way to explore the desert, while in Ras Al Khaimah, the camp lies in the Al Wadi nature reserve home to Arabian Oryx, sand and Arabian Gazelles and the Arabian Red Fox. Guest book packages of experiences and activities, including dining, with sandboarding, camel riding, hawk shows, private game drives and multi-course dinners on offer, depending on price point.
Platinum Heritage is one of the oldest and best-known companies for desert safaris in Dubai, offering myriad ways to explore the storied dunes depending on each visitors’ exact needs and wants. The company offers tours to the Dubai desert in three collections – Heritage, Platinum and Overland – with each collection offering a unique desert experience and including a host of desert activities. Heritage Collection ours take palace in Platinum Heritage’s fleet of 1950s Land Rovers and take guests into the conversation to see native wildlife and flora with standard tours including breakfast, headgear, water, a visit to the camp’s authentic Bedouin village, meeting camels, nature safari and falconry (there are plenty of tours to choose from including night tours). Platinum offers a similar experience in comfortable Range Rovers, while Overland takes guests out offroading to the rugged Hajar Mountains.
Desert Safari Dubai
Desert Safari Dubai is one of the go-to companies for booking the best desert experiences in the UAE. The trusted and highly rated service offers both morning and evening desert tours – so you can experience sunrise or golden hour – and includes desert activities for every traveller. There are the usual dune bashing experiences with sandboarding, camel rides and quad biking, but there’s also the option to forgo the bashing and go straight to the Bedouin tent for a barbecue and live entertainment- popular with families and those with small children. There’s even the option to extend the desert stay and sleep under the stars, before watching the blood-orange sun rise above the dunes and enjoying a wholesome camp breakfast.
Sand Trax Tours
Experienced off-roaders will love Sand Trax Tours – a desert experiences company that allows you to get behind the wheel of your own 800cc twin-seater desert buggy fitted with a roll cage, bucket seats and safety harnesses. After exploring the dunes at your own pace, and enjoying the thrill of the buggy itself, visitors enjoy a desert barbecue dinner overlooking the landscape, complete with belly dancing and a whirling dervish, which both receive rave reviews.
The best desert Safaris in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Desert Safari
Abu Dhabi’s vast desert stretches all the way from the city to the border of Saudi Arabia, through a stretch of expanse named the Empty Quarter. Allowing travellers and locals alike to explore this almost eerily peaceful and desolate landscape, Abu Dhabi Desert Safari offers a host of specially tailored packages, including dinner in the dunes, quad biking, hummer tours, camel riding, sandboarding, dune buggying and desert safaris of both the Liwa and Al Wathba deserts. Tours start at four hours and go up to 17 for overnight stays in the desert, with all including pick up and drop off from the city and beverages.
Abu Dhabi Desert Tours offers one of the most all-encompassing and highly rated desert experiences, offering both sunrise and evening tours to the dunes which include meeting camels alongside the usual desert activities like sandboarding and dune bashing. Opt for the evening tour for a desert barbecue dinner with shisha, live entertainment and even henna painting. There are plenty of options to tailor the packages, too, including transportation to the site by bus or private 4×4 from Abu Dhabi city and the options for romantic private dinners.