Dubai, the self-styled City of Gold, is renowned for its dazzling skyline, luxurious shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife. But beyond the glitz and glamour lies an untamed wilderness that offers exhilarating adventures – the Arabian Desert. And it’s in that juxtaposition that today we’re luxuriating, seeking adventure and dizzy heights not in the skyscrapers of Dubai, but rather, on its sands. With that in mind, here’s how to plan the ultimate adventure trip to the Arabian Desert, Dubai.
Knowing The Best Time To Holiday In The Arabian Desert
Timing is crucial in planning any trip, and the Arabian Desert is no exception. The best time to visit is during the winter months, from November to April, when the daytime temperature averages around 24-30°C. The summer months, May to October, can get extremely hot and might not be the best time for outdoor activities.
Getting From The UK To Dubai
The most efficient way to travel from London to Dubai is by air. Several airlines offer direct flights from London to Dubai, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Qantas Airways, and Royal Brunei Airlines. The duration of these direct flights typically ranges between seven and eight hours, with return flights generally sitting in the £450 to £550 region. You may be able to find cheaper flights if you’re willing to transit a couple of times.
To reach the Arabian Desert from Dubai most easily, you can opt for a desert safari via a recognised, registered tour company. This usually involves a 2-hour bus ride, which costs between AED 120 and AED 170. The desert safari offers a range of activities such as dune bashing in a 4×4, dune boarding, camel riding, shisha (hookah pipe) smoking, henna painting, and Arabic BBQ. The drive from Dubai to the desert typically takes about an hour.
If you prefer to drive yourself, you can take highway 102 towards the East Coast / Kalba (The Sharjah – Kalba Road). This route offers stunning views and brings you closer to the natural beauty of the Arabian Peninsula.
Remember, when planning your trip, it’s essential to consider the time difference between London and Dubai. Dubai is 3 hours ahead of London. Also, ensure you have all the necessary documents for your car rental if you plan to drive to the desert yourself.
Planning Your Itinerary With Precision
Your Arabian Desert itinerary should be a blend of adventure activities, cultural experiences, and relaxation if you’re to get the most from this striking part of the world (and not knacker yourself out, of course!). Here are some essential elements of a great adventure trip to Dubai’s desert:
- Desert Safari: No all-encompassing trip to the Gulf Tiger would be complete without a desert safari. The best desert safari in Dubai generally includes a drive through the desert in specially fitted 4×4 vehicles, dune bashing, and then ending the day with cultural activities like traditional music, dance performances, and a Bedouin-style dinner under the stars.
- Dune Bashing: If you’re in for more adrenaline, consider a dune bashing session, where you romp across towering sand dunes in a 4×4 vehicle, expertly piloted by certified drivers.
- Camel Trekking: Experience the desert the way Bedouins have for centuries. A sunrise or sunset camel trek can provide stunning views and photo opportunities.
- Overnight Camping: For a complete desert experience, consider an overnight desert camp. These come with food, traditional entertainment, and the opportunity to sleep under the stars.
- Hot Air Balloon Ride: For a unique perspective, take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Witness the desert waking up, with the sun illuminating the golden dunes and casting long shadows, an experience sure to create lasting memories.
The Arabian desert can be scorchingly hot during the day and chilly at night. Bring light, breathable clothing for daytime activities, but also carry a light jacket or wrap for the cooler evenings. Comfortable, closed shoes are a must for walking on the hot desert sand.
While Dubai is quite liberal compared to other Middle Eastern cities, it’s still respectful to cover your shoulders and knees when in public to respect local customs, and this will likely apply when you’re out in the desert, too.
Stay Hydrated & Protected
The desert’s dry heat can dehydrate you faster than you realise. Carry sufficient water with you at all times. Also, use a high-factor sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays, which can be even more potent when reflecting off the sand.
As with any adventure trip, having travel insurance that covers any potential medical issues, cancellations, or loss of valuables is a good precaution. For an adventure-filled trip to the Arabian Desert in Dubai, the following types of coverage could be beneficial:
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance: This is often the best option as it covers a wide range of incidents including medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost baggage, and more.
- Adventure Sports Coverage or Rider: If you’re planning on partaking in adventure sports or activities that are typically considered high-risk (like dune bashing, sandboarding, or quad biking), you may need this additional coverage. Some insurance companies might not cover injuries sustained from these activities under standard plans.
- Emergency Medical and Repatriation Insurance: This covers any medical emergencies that can occur during the trip. An essential for any kind of travel.
- Trip Cancellation or Interruption Insurance: This can cover you if you need to cancel your trip for some unforeseen reason or if your trip is interrupted by events beyond your control.
- Travel Disruption Insurance: Sometimes offered as an add-on, this can cover additional accommodation/travel costs incurred if you’re stranded abroad due to factors like natural disasters or civil unrest.
Some of the reputable insurance providers for UK citizens travelling abroad include World Nomads, Staysure, Post Office Money, Saga, InsureandGo, and Columbus Direct. They each offer various types of travel insurance and it’s best to compare policies to identify which best suits your needs, making sure it covers your specific activities and any medical conditions as well.
The Bottom Line
Planning an adventure trip to the Arabian Desert, Dubai, is not just about experiencing the thrill of dune bashing or the tranquillity of a desert night. It’s about immersing yourself in a landscape that’s as old as time. With the right planning and respect for the local culture and environment, your trip to the Arabian Desert could be an unparalleled adventure that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Back in the city and with an appetite well and truly worked up, why not check out these great places to eat on the Palm Jumeirah? You can thank us later.