Returning to Shanghai we went through Dubai this year. We have done the long lay over before and explored the city in a few hours. This year we decided to extend our stay to 3 days and get out to the sand dunes. We booked a desert safari with a company called Desert Safari Dubai. Everything was easily arranged through email and they were very quick to respond and helpful. We did not have to pay in advance, but the driver once we were on the tour. After we had our hotel booked I gave them the name and address and they were even kind enough to call when we arrived to confirm pick up times and ensure we were still interested.
Sand drifting across the road
There were a few options and we decided on the night tour. We were picked up from our hotel about 4PM and stopped at one other hotel to get 3 more guests. We drove out of the city and slowly we were surrounded by sand. The sand acted like snow as it drifted over the road and swirled, rippled and collected in mini dunes. I wondered how did they remove larger piles that covered the road? The pattern of sand ripples reminded me of zebra stripes. The sand was a dark red-orange colour and started to stretch as far as the eye could see. Small scrubby bushes dotted the landscape in places too. The city was out of sight and we were now surrounded by sand as far as the eye could see.
We stopped as a small shop where we could buy supplies and have a quick washroom break. Some of the 4 wheel drive
bouncing across the dunes… which way is up?
trucks started to let the air out of their tires; easier to make traction. Our driver waited until we arrived at the start of the dunes. Tires ready and all of us strapped in we set off in small groups of 2. Tires spun, we slid sideways down steep dunes and we bumped and rocked over the ridges. It was like a roller coaster ride and as my stomach lurched and I let out little yelps and screams I tried to find something to hold onto. I was in the middle and I looked up to see roll bars. I grasped those tightly, although they did make me a little uneasy thinking we could roll over. Being in the middle seat I had an unobstructed view of the ride. Going up then quickly down steep slopes made you feel funny because you couldn’t see ground beneath you. It gave me the feeling of going over a cliff. The driver kept close to the vehicle in front of us and I thought for sure we would crash at some point. Once I got into the rhythm my mind settled and I enjoyed the ride.
The sand reacted like snow as we slid and spun tires the only difference the heat and colour. After a 30 minute adventurous drive we stopped to get photos of the dunes. A large dune loomed in front of us and others quickly climbed to the top. We scrambled up and soon sank to our knees in soft sand. I was afraid to lose my shoes, so I continued the climb barefoot. The sand was warm and soft, surprisingly not too hot. We made it to the top for breathtaking views. Funny how the sun glinted off random car parts, broken pieces, and a few bumpers. I am guessing the roll bars did come in handy. The air was hot, not humid, and the winds felt like the heat that hits you when you open the oven at 400f. A nice pool or ocean would be great right about now ;) Actually the heat didn’t bother me and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable. I dressed in a thin cotton blouse and light modest shorts, so I was fine. The sun was getting low in the sky, so we needed to continue on our journey.
ripples in the sand
A short drive brought us to a camp. The camp was where we would have our dinner and activities. The time was short so we had to decide quickly which ones to do before the food would be served. We could do quads and sandboarding for an extra charge, camel ride, henna tattoo or just relax and have a drink at the bar. We decided on the camel ride and henna tattoos. The quad ride was just a small circular circuit without dunes, so it didn’t seem as fun. The camel also went in a small circle, but with the amount of guests it made sense to do something easy so everyone could have a chance. Our camel was quite happy, but Anita’s quickly got annoyed with John and growled at him as he tried to pet it. Lucky he had a cover on his mouth, or I am sure John would have been wearing the dreaded camel spit! The ride itself was uneventful, although scary when the camel needs to kneel for you to get off. It was well worth it because how often do you get the chance to ride a camel? As we got the henna done dinner was served. Dancers entertained the crowds with traditional belly dancing and another style with men spinning.
Where’s the Beach?
Dinner included soft drinks coffee and water, all that you could drink. The food was delicious with a variety of salads, meats and vegetables. It was very filling and you could return for more. The chicken and chicken kabob was great, although I passed on the lamb and fish. Once the dancing was complete it was time to return to our vehicle and back to the city. Again we had a quick stop to reinflate the tires and quickly rinse off some of the sand from the vehicles. The hour drive back to the city went fast and we were dropped back at our hotel. This was a memorable trip and I am so glad we had the opportunity. It was so much fun. I just can’t seem to express how much we all enjoyed it in words.
The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn’t easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.
After a short break I am back posting this week, but I am not sure if I will keep to my usual weekly posting schedule. It has also been hard to get on-line daily to respond or check out your posts. I must leave the house at 6:50 AM every day which leaves me a mere 10 minutes online, as opposed to last year when I was picked up later and had 30 minutes. I haven’t been energetic enough to get up any earlier, so I apologise for being ‘lazy’ .
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