Jun 22, 2010
I had heard about it, but never even dreamt that one day i would undertake such an adventure during the dusk of my life. The Desert Safari among the pristine sand dunes of the desert stretches a little away from the periphery of Dubai is something that the tourists from different parts of the world look forward to experience and catch the moments in their cameras. It is said that if you go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and do not experience the thrill of the Desert Safari you have missed the essence of your visit to the land of traditional deserts part of which has been converted into concrete jungles and modern hubs of civilization.
During ten days of our stay in Dubai, my wife, Benny and I, accompanied by our hosts, Elias D’Souza, Ronald Sabi and Valerian Alva visited some of the exquisite and historical sites in Dubai and few distant places such as Fujairah and Al Ain including Jebel Hafeet. Meanwhile, Ronald Sabi and Elias suggested that we should experience the Desert Safari. Though initially I showed disinclination towards this adventurous pursuit, eventually I agreed to explore the sand dunes and desert topography and see what it all means going on the Desert Safari and why it has been highly recommended.
As our hosts had made all the arrangements, we just had to get ourselves ready for the unforeseen adventure in the desert. On the designated day we were picked up by the agency that arranges the Desert Safari at the Dubai Grand Hotel at 3pm. We boarded the four-wheel driven vehicle piloted by a young and dynamic Philippino in which there was already a young couple from Sharjah hailing from Kerala. A little later two young friends from Mumbai joined us and the vehicle moved in the direction of Kalba. At around 4pm the vehicle stopped at the starting point of the Desert Safari which has an enclosure and garden where one can see pea-hens picking insects from the garden. Close by, a camel, a horse and a mare have been kept ready for anyone who wanted a ride by paying a price.
Prior to the start of the Desert Safari, people could have their individual adventure by hiring desert worthy bikes or four wheelers or desert buggies managed by the Alramool Motor Cycle Company. We could see a number of youngsters zooming past and having adventurous ride on the slopes of the desert prior to the start of the safari. There were a number of foreign tourists from different countries clicking pictures of their family members and friends. I was amused to see two monkeys playing pranks with tourists for food and attention. An Arab dwarf with white robe was obliging the tourists to have their pictures taken with him, of course for a fee.
It was around 5pm, and the groups of four wheel driven desert vehicles prepared themselves for the adventurous Desert Safari. The Philippino driver let off some pressure from the wheels of the vehicle so as to have proper grip of the sand while undertaking the desert ride. Usually, during the Desert Safari four wheel driven land cruisers belonging to particular agencies move in proximity and assemble in groups at certain vantage points or during sunset so that the tourists can have an opportunity to click pictures.
Fastening the safety belts and holding tight the side handles we were ready for the Arabian roller coaster ride through desert driving also known as ‘dune bashing’. This is the most exciting and thrilling part of the event. The Philippino driver showed off his skill by the cruising and twisting the four-wheel drive against the sand dunes. It is similar to having a roller coaster in the sand dunes.
As the land cruiser went up and down as well as sideways we could see the sand dunes rising before us like waves in the sea and felt the excitement that was just out of the world. The driver’s alertness, experience and skills in controlling the desert vehicle were really commendable. As the land cruiser moved further deeper into the desert we could see nothing but sand dunes all around without any vegetation or earth or rock formation. Getting down for picture session we could feel the fine desert sand blowing gently in the wind and could see the wave formations on the slopes of the sand dunes.
The evening Desert Safaris have been preferred by a number of tourists to Dubai as they come in direct contact with the mysterious beauty of the dusk. The main reason why many love the evening Desert Safari is not only for its timing but for the beauty of the sunset which goes beyond words. An evening drive through the golden sand dunes with the sunset as the backdrop makes the Desert Safari one of the most desirable and preferable activity in Dubai.
After nearly an hours’ thrilling dune bashing, the vehicle proceeded to a regular road and drove for nearly fifteen minutes towards the desert camp. Halting outside the camp, the tourists could avail the facility of the camel ride and or the four wheeler motor bike ride that was included in the package. We did have a brief camel ride.
At around 6.45 pm, we entered the Bedouin camp, an enclosure with a square stage at the centre and low wooden tables kept around and low cushions known as majlis to sit on. Tourists on desert safari excursions in Dubai can enjoy sample food cooked the traditional Bedouin way and have a look at the goods they create for a living. There were souvenir shops and a henna joint for decorating hands and feet for those who had an interest in these indulgences. There were two open tents in which tourists could smoke the flavoured Shisha or water-pipe.
Prior to the buffet dinner we had cold drinks and stuffed roti. Meanwhile, a disc jockey played melodious Arabic music. At 7 pm, the buffet was thrown open and men and women in separate queues collected the common vegetarian food and the non-vegetarians collected the barbeque chicken or other meat at two separate counters outside the food tent.
Meanwhile, the singers, and later male and female dancers presented traditional entertainment programmes including belly dancing to the accompaniment of traditional Arabic music.
At around 8pm the camp programme came to an end and we started back to our residence and reached at around 9pm. Looking back to the Desert Safari, the entire experience of six hours was worth the time and money. It was a good opportunity for me personally to know the different cultural aspect of the desert life and an occasion to capture some of the amazing pictures of the desert topography.
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