At the risk of sounding politically incorrect for a person with a passion for travel, Dubai was honestly never on my radar! I always felt that it wasn’t exactly a place that I would like to travel to, till such time that one of my besties moved there and I was left with no choice whatsoever but to make a trip. And thank god for her movement and my plan to see her. Otherwise I have would have missed such a glorious place that I would have been churning in my grave for having committed such a horrible crime. Yes, Dubai is that good and totally worth it. There is much to talk about this wonderful cosmopolitan country which a melting pot of so many cultures. But for now am going to focus on talking about something that made me go back to Dubai several times. Dune-bashing!Dune-Bashing & #DesertSafari in #Dubai - a Travelogue #travel Click To Tweet
For an Indian who is exposed to such a vast expanse of desert area, Dubai wasn’t too fascinating as a desert. But what I had not known was the adventures in desert-land that Dubai has to offer. I have a crazy adventurous streak in me and that can make me do practically anything. So when my bestie suggested some tummy-swirling jolts on the sand dunes I answered with my thumbs up and a big one at that! I am a huge fan of 4x4s and I knew that being on the desert in the Land Cruisers would be one hell of an escapade. So there we were, standing below her apartment building, waiting for the desert safari guys to pick us up. Animal safaris were my favorite, but desert safari? Well, I was just about to find out.
Frankly, exploiting the scintillating deserts of Dubai in a 4×4 was such a mesmerizing idea. The only bummer was the blazing hot sun; but being someone who doesn’t appreciate winters too much, I surely shouldn’t be complaining about the sun. I expected a royal Hummer but they picked us up in a different car that afternoon. I was almost disappointed with that SUV but then my friend told me that they would be transferring us to another SUV once we reach the destined place from where the actual safari started. I really appreciated the idea of being picked up by the desert safari tour operator folks right from our doorstep. Once in the SUV I went all silent in anticipation of the dazzling 5 hours ahead of us. It was going to be one hell of a ride!
Dune-bashing was a very welcome thought, though to be honest I didn’t know what it exactly meant apart from the little curtain-raiser that my friend did for me while we travelled to reach the desert area. Whatever it was I was absolutely welcomed the thought of being out in the open in hot and sunny Dubai, and bash and mash as many sand dunes as possible. Once we reached the edge of the desert driving through Al Awir Road, we stopped there for some refreshments and were driven inside the desert in the 4X4 Land Cruiser. It was an amazing drive and I must offer my compliments to the Arab drivers who do such a commendable job. They are absolute professionals, very well trained in First Aid too just in case a mishap occurs.
The start of what I call ‘too much fun’
Once in the middle of the desert I realised how difficult it was to bash dunes and the amount of focus that the drivers possessed only when I saw the dunes in front me completely disappearing beneath the enormous tyres of the SUV that just decided to bash it down to ashes literally. Imagine a huge hill kind of dune reducing to just sand under those roaring tyres. What a sight it was, but hello, it made me feel pukey! Though I didn’t throw up, sitting on the passenger seat and watching the dunes diminish into nothingness in front of my eyes was making my stomach growl. But I had to keep up with my adventure streak and to be honest I loved the thrill of it all. High adrenalin pumping feat, I asked for it right? Well I wasn’t going to shy away from it because it was so much fun. This went on for about 30 minutes after which I think one can’t take it anymore too. The good part was that I didn’t throw up even though I felt a bit wonky.
We drove to the campsite from there and it was no less than a mela! What a wonderful celebration of life here in the desert. We did a camel ride, my second time after having done one in Rajasthan in India. That called for some tummy filling exercises and we were elated to take generous sips of ‘gahwa’ – the Arabic coffee. Hubbllee Bubblee (shisha – the popular Arabic water pipe also seen in India) was also available but I wasn’t a great fan of it anyways so decided to avoid it. It was time to have some fun and we figured that getting henna tattoos was the next fun activity we were going to do. The lady was so good with the henna drawing and she made a wonderful design in my arm in just 5 minutes. I showed-it off brilliantly! Before getting the tattoo, we also tried on the abaya – the traditional Arabic attire for women and clicked some pictures in it. This was turning out to be too much of fun.
One thing that I was really scared of was letting the falcon sit on my hand to get a picture clicked. Man! that was just too much. So all I did was hold the mat on which it sat and clicked a picture which totally gave away my state of mind. Oh the things that you have to do just for clicking pictures. By then we were hungry and saw some delicious vegetarian dishes waiting for us. Frankly I don’t remember what I ate then but whatever it was, it was very tasty and coupled with the gahwa and beverages we have a rollicking evening. The sunset was heavenly and forgetting to carry a camera is the worst thing you can ever do.
Belly dancing and Tanoura dancing in the desert
But the fun was just about to begin! That’s when the belly dancer made her gorgeous entry and I was stunned by her moves. For someone who is crazy about dancing, trust me I did not move an inch till the time she kept dancing. First of all she was stunning, to top it all her flawless skin and flamboyant attire made me go nuts about her, literally. A thought crossed my mind that time. If I felt that way I wonder how the men felt. Okay well, let me not go there for everyone’s betterment. She was ravishing and so were her moves. My head was reeling even after her belly stopped moving and my friend and her daughters were laughing at me. So I realized much later ofcourse!
After the belly dancer, it was time to witness something new. And little did I know that I was going to be friends with this dancer for life. Tanoura dancing where the men wear very heavy, long and wide skirts (the width must surely run into several meters) with which they danced. Hany – that was the name of the Tanoura dance. He kept twirling and so did his long skirt which was lit all over. My head reeled with him going in circles but the man just didn’t stop!!! Oh god, how on earth was he able to do this? I was amazed at the guy’s talent. He was absolutely incredible. A tad lower than the belly dancer thought. Well no one can get over a beautiful woman in skimpy clothing, can we? She just made the evening glorious!
It was time to then wrap up. We finished the food and though our legs were tired, our agile minds helped us walk towards the SUV that was going to take us back home. An evening well spent is the only way to close it. But, wait a minute, did I mention the beautiful canopy of twinkling Arabian stars under which we reveled? It was a dazzling night. The perfect closure to a brilliant day in the desert!
Some important details:
I’ve already mentioned that the tour operators pick you up directly from your home/ hotel. All you have to do is choose which one you want to go with (most of them are reliable and charge the same price) and choose the desert safari option that you would like to go for. Have detailed it out for you here:
- Morning Desert Safari: A 9 a.m. morning safari that includes dune bashing, camel ride and sand ski. While water and soft drinks are provided, there are no meals and campsite in the morning adventure.
- Evening Desert Safari: This is the one described above and includes everything I have described.
- Overnight Desert Safari: This option is similar to the evening one with the additional overnight stay on the campsite where one is provided sleeping bags, blankets and breakfast the next morning.
Do check out the Desert Safari site for complete details and pricing. There are options to do sand skiing and quad biking also apart from the details I have outlined. However they come at an added price. If you are interested in experiencing these too, you can let the tour operator know in advance.
Until then, maʿ al-salāmah my wonderful people!
Featured Image source: Flickr
One who is born with wings has many stories to tell. I was a born wayfaring story-teller! But then, how does a chirpy story-teller who also has wings on her back and wheels on her feet find a colossal audience to recount those sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes eccentric encounters. I realised there was no other way I could narrate my tales to the world unless i started penning them down in black and white. That's how TravelwithArchie was born. I love calling myself a vagabond! One who dreams about places and then travels there to see how they look in the real world. Come, borrow my wings for a while and see the world with my lens!