Desert Safari in Dubai

Photo of people jumping on a Dubai sand dune

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In the early afternoon we went on an amazing desert safari!  Now don’t think of the American desert, flat and typically surrounded by mountains.  Think instead of endless red coral colored sand dunes, dappled with windswept parallel, meandering sand waves that change colors and shapes constantly, even while you are watching them. 

The sand is fine, very fine indeed and just the slightest breeze causes them to shift, forming new patterns that lead your eyes to the horizon.  The sand dunes are large, and seemingly infinite and uninterrupted by civilization, save for the scattering of 4×4 vehicles that caravan these stretches of unbroken desert sands.  

We were picked up at our hotel, a Hilton that is not too convenient for anything other than a place to stay.  Our vehicle was a massive Nissan 4×4 that held seven people, including our driver, comfortably.  I understood the seating arrangements and made my way quickly to the vehicle as soon as it was announced that we were to begin boarding.  I wanted the front passenger seat so that I could not only get a great view but also, I wanted to video our excursion. 

Above, an endless ocean of sand that lies not far from the city of Dubai

We were soon on our way and the city of Dubai was far behind us as we made our way to the sand dunes.  We passed camel farms, and very little else.  A hardy group of nomads must have worked hard to survive this place that was sand and very little else.  About 75 kilometers (46 miles) from where we had begun this adventure we reached the Lahbab Desert.  

We stopped among the shifting dunes and waited for several other vehicles that would make up our final caravan.  As we waited, we climbed the dunes of soft powdery sand that had no problem entering our shoes and filling up every available nook and cranny within them.  I gave up trying to empty my shoes and could no longer wiggle my toes due to my shoes being filled as if they were jam-packed with cement.  I watched as the dunes shifted before my eyes and took many photographs of the endless congruent waves of richly colored sand.

When the entire caravan was fully assembled, our vehicle was the second to begin the safari.  Our driver, like the others, had deflated their vehicle’s tires so that they could get better traction on the soft sand.  I put my cell phone on video mode and began recording.  At first, we gently followed the vehicle just a few feet ahead of us as we rolled over the tops of the sand dunes. 

Click on the following to watch a video of the hair-raising ride through the desert of Dubai:

All of us were very quiet as the vehicle began a rapid roller coaster ride.  Up one sand dune, then down the other side, then up another dune and down.  Then, the car in front of us literally disappeared!  It had gone off the edge of a tall dune and when we hit that same spot, everyone in our car yelled in joyous delight as we roller-coastered over the edge of  a very steep and sheer flank.  I continued recording as we all shrieked, roared and bellowed with enjoyment and thrill.

The Lahbab Desert flowed into the Nazva Desert but where one ended and the other began was impossible for me to detect.  It all looked the same, save a for a road the cut a swatch between the two deserts. 

Our driver, who had been leading these safaris for over nine years, was an expert!  He literally drove on the side of the dunes, sand flying high in the air like water spraying and we felt as though the huge vehicle would roll over at any moment!  We rolled over dune after dune as if we were catching a huge wave on the shores of Hawaii and surfing it to yet another massive reddish and pinkish shade of orange dune.  It was exhilarating, quite possibly the most exhilarating event that I have ever participated in.

We had gone 8 km thru both deserts stopping at the top a very tall dune.  We got out of the vehicles and romped among the dunes, waiting for the sun to go down in an endless deep coral colored desert.  As the ball of fire descended into the horizon, all of the colors blended.  The sun, once yellow but now an amber-orange from the sand haze that filled the horizon, and the sand the same color made for an almost auburn “white out.”   

As the sun set over the dunes and after taking numerous photographs, our caravan departed for a Bedouin camp where we took a camel ride in the twilight, enjoyed a massive Arab feast where fresh bread was continuously baked in traditional ovens.  

A whirling Dervish entertained us with this mystical high-speed spinning, unwavering in the same spot, spinning endlessly and falling into a trance.  When he briefly stopped his maniacal whirling, he was not the least bit dizzy and soon started the high-speed revolving once again. I would later learn that these whirling dervishes, a religious cult whose origins may be in Turkey, actually think that to die while spinning is the ultimate in their religion. 

Click on the following to watch a video of the wild whirling Dervish as he spins in the desert of Dubai:

We were next treated to a wonderful belly dancer and a fire dancer who twirled balls of fire and closed out his performance by drinking huge quantities of kerosene then spitting flames many feet from his mouth.  After his daring feats of flame-throwing, the show ended, and I noticed his face, neck, and chest were drenched with kerosene.  I would guess that he had ingested quite a lot of it into his stomach and lungs. 

Click on the following to watch a video of fire eating man in the desert of Dubai:

How many people can say that they went on a desert safari in the Middle East?  Not many because I think that most people would be apprehensive, first, from even traveling to that region of the world.  And second, from a hair-raising rough-and-tumble wild ride through an endless sea of sand. 

Of course, we wouldn’t recommend this high-speed pursuit over coral-colored sand dunes.  But then again, you ahe to ask yourself: Will I ever have this opportunity again?  Most likely the answer will be “no.”  We find that the regret of not doing something is far worse than the actual cost to do something.  And if you attempt to start a bucket list, aim high!  Never be afraid to take a chance when the opportunity of lifetime appears! And don’t be afraid to make a desert safari in Dubai a drop in your bucket!


All photographs are the copyright of Jim Jackson Photography. Please contact me for authorization to use or for signed, high-resolution copies.











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