An Abu Dhabi Desert Safari
Dune Bashing in Abu Dhabi and More
If you are in Abu Dhabi you definitely have to go on desert safari.
It is one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi. Seriously!
I have done several desert safaris in Dubai but it actually took me a while to finally do a desert safari in Abu Dhabi and all I can say is that it is amazing and you should do it – a desert safari is one of the best activities in Abu Dhabi (click here to read about my other tips for Abu Dhabi).
There are different kinds of tours and tour operators and though there are fewer different tours available than in Dubai, there are enough tours to choose from and there will be something to cater for every taste.
So, keep reading if you want to get an authentic review of my last desert safari, an Abu Dhabi Evening Desert Safari, which I did with my cousin who visited the UAE for the very first time – and who had a very clear opinion about her first trip to the desert (her conclusion is at the bottom of the post).
Choosing a Desert Safari – Desert Safari Abu Dhabi Deals
As mentioned, there are different desert safari tours in Abu Dhabi available as there are different deserts in Abu Dhabi and the UAE with slightly differing programs.
Originally, I had wanted to go for an overnight safari which I then changed and did an evening Abu Dhabi desert safari with dinner under the stars and I was very glad I did!
You can also choose betweenAbu Dhabi morning desert safaris where you can be a little bit more active or the evening safari which is a little more sedate. Personally, I recommend the evening safari, keeping reading to find out why and what’s included…
I booked my tour via GetYourGuide and paid around 60€ (about $75) but prices may change – it depends on the rates and the time of year as it is more expensive in the winter and in high season. Once you book your tour with GetYourGuide you will receive a confirmation as well as a reminder on the day so you will remember when the safari starts which is very handy.
How to Get to the Desert
You will normally be picked up from the hotel (we stayed at this beautiful 4* hotel in Abu Dhabi when we were picked up) or, if you arrive in the area via a cruise ship then you will be picked up from the port.
They will always let you know the exact location and you are also asked to provide the hotel information. Since it is not a private tour (which you can also book), you share the four-wheel drive vehicles with up to six other passengers (one in the back and one in the front seat) so it is up to seven people plus the driver that can do the tour in one car.
Based on my experience of desert tours before, I can tell you that your car is usually not the only one so usually there is a caravan of cars that all belong together.
Dune Bashing in Abu Dhabi
After you are all picked up you’ll be driven to the desert where the wheels will be deflated, allowing the driver to do the dune bashing which normally takes about fifteen to thirty minutes.
The driving starts off slow and progressively gets faster and faster! It’s definitely not for those who are faint of heart! You should be aware though, that very small children or those with any physical problems probably shouldn’t do the dune bashing, but normally it is a really thrilling experience.
It isn’t very easy to record videos because your car will bump up and down all the time but honestly, you’ll be so busy enjoying yourself that you won’t care, so don’t miss out on the chance while you’re in the UAE.
Photo Stops in the Desert of Abu Dhabi
On a desert tour before in Dubai there was a falcon show for participants which we did not have on this safari but that was fine with me.
We did have a couple of photo stops to take some pictures in the desert and it was so picturesque there that we got some great shots. We also stopped next to some camels where you could pet them or even ride them and then we headed to the camp.
Abu Dhabi Desert Camp
Each tour organization has its own camp and because it was winter we arrived in perfect time to witness the setting sun.
At the camp there were Arabian rugs and we each had our own little seat to sit on the floor amongst the cushions. There were lots of things to do while you are waiting for the dinner too, whether it was henna hand painting, trying on some traditional Arabian clothes and having your picture taken, shisha smoking or even sandboarding (our camp was right in front of a large sand dune).
There were, of course, toilets you can use but I really always try to avoid the toilets.
Overall, the whole place has an incredibly nice atmosphere and feels quite authentic so most people like to take pictures pictures pictures!
Belly Dance and Traditional Arabic Dance – Tanoura
I am not always a fan of belly dancing because I’ve seen many disappointing performances but the dancer we had here did a fantastic job.
She was very cute and afterwards many tours will have an Arabian man doing traditional Arabian dance (tanoura) which was very entertaining and very interesting to watch.
It took about twenty minutes in total, maybe a little more, and we were invited to do some dancing as well though we mostly stayed with Chinese and Indian people who didn’t do that much dancing but it was a very beautiful experience.
Dinner Under the Stars in the Desert of Abu Dhabi
Afterwards at around 6.30 pm dinner was prepared. I am a vegetarian but there were still lots of great options as well as some meat options.
Considering that food normally costs about 30€ in Abu Dhabi for this standard of food and the fact that it includes drinks, you get good value for your money.
Soft drinks are included as well as coffee and tea but no alcoholic drinks. This is a difference I think, between more expensive tours and this one, with the more expensive tours alcohol is probably included but you can still purchase beer and some other alcoholic beverages if you choose. There was rice, noodles, different kinds of salads and soups and so it was a nice dinner, especially sitting there under the sky.
In fact, it might sound a little bit weird, but one of the highlights of the desert safari tour in Abu Dhabi was when they switched off the artificial lights and you just had the stars and the moonlight.
It just looked absolutely amazing and though simple, it was another part of the evening desert safari tour in Abu Dhabi that made it really really special.
More Activities in the Desert
Afterwards a lot of people smoked shisha or sat next to the camp fire and at around nine o’clock we were picked up and were back at the hotel by about ten o’clock so it took about six and a half hours and was an absolutely fantastic experience.
I had been on this type of desert tour previously but my cousin hadn’t and she said that after staying for a week in the UAE, that the dune bashing and the desert safari, including dinner and belly dancing, was one of the best experiences she had in the UAE and she loved it.
I totally agree, so if you are in Abu Dhabi you have to do a desert safari and as mentioned, this is a link to the safari I did.
How to Book a Desert Safari in Abu Dhabi
Desert safaris are not always offered – especially not in the hot summer months, so if a Abu Dhabi desert safari is the main reason to book a flight to Abu Dhabi make sure tours are offered around that time. Some tours are very popular and become sold out, however, there are several great tour operators (definitely try to avoid Royal Adventure as I have had some negative experiences with them in Dubai).
Always check what exactly is offered and what might cost extra.
If you are interested in doing a morning safari tour you can book via this link. Just be careful when checking dates as safaris are not always offered, so in the summer or during Ramadan there might be some dates where you cannot book safari tours in Abu Dhabi.
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