I really don’t have a bucket list per se, and don’t even really believe in the concept. But, I once put together a travel to do list – years ago. Once in a blue moon I look over the list to see if I am on the right track. In all those years, one thing remained on my to do list – riding a camel.
When we were offered the opportunity to tour Dubai courtesy of Dubai Tourism, they asked us what, specifically, we were interested in doing in Dubai. The first thing that came to mind – I wanted to ride a camel. It did not need to be a long trip across the desert, a la Lawrence of Arabia, but enough for me to sit on top, bop along, and knock it off my travel to do list.
Dubai Tourism delivered. And then some.
After our disappointing evening on the Dhow dinner cruise, my hopes were set on having a lovely evening for our last night in Dubai. Our guide, Yafei, picked us up from the hotel, where Eric was waiting in his desert chic attire. We were ready for our Arabian Adventures Night Safari.
Yafei escorted us about an hour outside of the city, explaining about the safari and some history of Dubai. We even drove past the practice grounds for camel racing on the way.
When we arrived at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, we pulled over with the other Arabian Adventures cars and deflated the tires of the 4×4 truck, to make it easier to drive through the desert dunes. Yafei was excited to let me take photos of him because he knew I was a blogger on a “VIP” trip, exclaiming that he could not wait to tell his mother he was going to be famous. So, for what it is worth, Yafei, here is your moment in the small sun that is With Husband In Tow:
Our first stop on the desert safari was to watch a falconer show. I never knew much, or really thought much, about falcons or falconers, and overall enjoyed it. But, I was surprised at just how many people Arabian Adventures was able to accommodate in one night’s safari. I worried that the cheese level would be high and that we would be surrounded by tourists all night.
Those fears vanished as Yafei whisked us off to a spot in the middle of the desert for a stunning sunset over the dunes. The trip to the stopping point was one of the highlights of the night, as we dune bashed our way there. Yafei is one of the more senior guides, who has been with Arabian Adventures for a long time. I knew we were getting VIP treatment, but Yafei had us in the lead car, meaning we had unobstructed views of the dunes as we based our way across the hills of sand, often feeling like the car would tip over at any point. It was entirely fun, and Yafei’s personality made it that much more enjoyable. (Read more about sandboarding in Dubai.)
When we stopped for the sunset, I did feel a little overwhelmed by the number of tourists, and in particular little kids, who were running through the sand and over the dunes, getting in the way of my photos. But, it was fun, as I started to run myself through the dunes, bringing about half of the desert back into the car with me.
As the sun dipped behind the dunes, we made our way to the evening campsite. When we arrived, we were one of the first in line for a camel ride, which could not have been more perfect. We climbed aboard and rode the wave of the camel jerking us upwards as it grunted loudly. We took a mini ride, that lasted all of about 5 minutes, which was, honestly, the perfect amount for me. We snapped some photos, smelled a little like camel, and climbed back down, with only minimal incident – Eric almost banged his chin onto the back of my head as the camel jerked back down to the ground.
Tick. Another notch on my travel belt. Ever ridden a camel? Why, yes I have.
The campsite itself was very well done, with henna tattoos and other activities. After getting a tattoo, Yafei escorted us to our reserved table, another VIP perk. We were told the entire table was reserved for us, with prime viewing of the belly dancing entertainment, and that we could allow people to join us, or not. We ended up sharing with a father and his two older daughters who were in from the Northeastern US. Very friendly.
We dined on a buffet of grilled meats, veggies, hummus, and other middle eastern specialties, with an open bar for the night – a bonus in and of itself in an expensive city like Dubai.
After dinner, and the belly dancing performance, we lounged on cushions while enjoying a little shisha, before making our way back to the city.
Although I was initially nervous about the size of the group and the campsite, I honestly believe that Arabian Adventures did a very good job of taking what could be an entirely cheesy safari experience, and making it run like a well oiled machine. At 360 AED, or about $100 a person, it is a pricey evening out, but in a city where a lunch at a fast food joint like Shake Shack ran us about $40 for two people, the price is pretty reasonable, particularly including beverages. It was a great way to end our tour of Dubai. This might be one thing to add to your to do list even if traveling Dubai on a budget.
Dubai Tourism hosted us for our tour of Dubai, but all of my opinions are my own.
Learn more about interesting things to do in the Middle East.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.