The Best Tours in the Desert in DubaiAdventure in Dubai
The Best Tours in the Desert in Dubai
Are you in Dubai and want to go on a desert hike? Looking for an organized tour departing from your Dubai hotel to go and see the dunes? Are you wondering which one to choose from the many 4WD tours with Dubai desert guides proposed by tourist agencies? The comparison and detailed description of the seven best excursions, both group and off-road and private driver, you can book in Dubai to visit the desert. 4WD safaris, quad excursions, and camel rides. The tours that take you, the tours where you drive and the excursions for families with children. Morning tours and those including dinner. What you need to know
What Are the Best Tours Driven in the Dubai Desert?
Are you in Dubai and want to take a trip to the desert? Do you have any doubts about whether to choose a group tour or an off-road excursion with a private driver? You don’t know if 4WD, camel or quad is better? Would you like to go through the dunes driving your jeep?
Among the many tours organized in the desert of Dubai proposed by the agencies and bookable on the internet I have selected 7 different excursions, they are not the only ones, but in my view, they are among the best and most comprehensive available on the market.
All the excursions are described below, in great detail, with the pros and cons of each, the times and important things to know. All can be booked easily with a credit card. Usually, confirmation is immediate.
If you are looking for a guided tour to visit the city, read The Best Tours organized in Dubai. And if you plan on taking a trip to Abu Dhabi or exploring the evocative Musandam tour by boat, you will find a presentation of the most interesting excursions on the Best Tours page from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and in Oman. With a detailed comment and pros and cons of each excursion, so you get an idea of what it is and be able to choose the most suitable tour for your way of traveling.
Are you an independent type, and do you want to do things yourself? In this blog you will find numerous travel guides that allow you to visit Dubai and its many attractions in total autonomy, moving as far as possible with efficient public transport. Find the link to all the Dubai guides published in the blog at the end of this article.
Important things to know
Aspects to Evaluate in Choosing a Dubai Desert Tour
Before examining in detail the different proposals for guided tours in the desert of Dubai, I invite you to consider some important aspects.
Do not expect the grandiose and virgin scenarios of the Sahara. And not even the high dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia. Around Dubai, the dunes are mostly low and on the horizon, in the background, often there is always a trellis, a fence, a fence or a building “to spoil” the view.
A Dubai desert tour is perfect for those who have never seen a desert. And he wants to reach it quickly and comfortably, well protected from the heat and lulled by the air conditioning. Then, at the completion of the visit, he quickly returned to the hotel.
The desert of Dubai is very popular. Except for a few, very few exceptions any excursion you choose the experience is likely to be very touristy. Especially if you choose multi-activity tours which include dinner and entertainment.
Keep in mind that very few are left of Bedouins in the Dubai desert. And you certainly won’t meet them in camps frequented by tourists just an hour away from the big hotels on the coast. If you are looking for authenticity and the real desert let it go, you would be disappointed.
Secondly, if you are in Dubai for a few days, you want to enjoy a different natural environment than the one you live in and spend some fun time spending a reasonable amount of money then you are spoiled for choice on which tour to choose.
It is the most classic and the most popular of the desert tours usually offered in Dubai: departure from the hotel, an hour’s journey to reach the dunes, tires deflate, dune bashing going up and down the dunes with the off-road vehicle, if you can try the sandboarding or the descent from a steep dune with the board. Then you reach the camp where if you wish you can also do a very short ride on the camel and you can have yourself photographed with a hawk on your arm. Dinners in the company of numerous other tourists while admiring the belly dance show and then returning to the hotel in the evening. Transportation takes place in off-road vehicles, usually Toyota Land Cruiser.
Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Ras Al Khaimah.
How long it lasts: between 6 and 7 hours depending on traffic, departure mid-afternoon, and return in the evening.
Guide: driver/guide in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Arabic
Features: there are several options that you can choose and combine with each other. The first is about transport: if you are a family or a group of 5 or 6 friends (maximum number of people) select one of the private tours, if you travel alone, in 2 or 3 people select the group version instead (divide the off-road vehicle with other participants, maximum 6). The second option is dinner: camp with buffet dinner or the more expensive variant with table service, usually closer to the stage where the show is held. The third and last is if you want to reach the extreme dunes (also called extreme high dunes or high dunes), in truth only a little higher and a little steeper than the dunes provided in the base safari.
Price: in addition to off-road transportation the cost includes sandboarding, welcome drink, coffee and tea, henna tattoo (if you want to do it), a few minutes camel ride, free hookah, dinner in the desert camp, dance show unlimited belly, snacks, water, and soft drinks. Not included any quad bikes, dune buggies, and alcoholic beverages.
Pros: the good quality/price ratio of the least expensive option, considering that it includes dinner it is really hard to ask for more on tour.
Cons: any option you choose, don’t expect intimacy or remain alone, admiring the immensity of the desert in silence. The dinner and all the activities are well organized (the local operator who actually provides the services is Adventure in Dubai is one of the most appreciated in Dubai), and the reviews are excellent, but you will always be in the company of dozens of other people, and the atmosphere is 100% tourist, from the first to the last minute of the tour. Better than you know it right away.
To know: don’t expect the grandiose Saharan dunes hundreds of meters high, almost all of the desert area near Dubai is characterized by knolls up to a few dozen meters high, including the area known as extreme high dunes.
Recommended: if you’ve never been in the desert.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | From Dubai: Safari on the Red Dunes and Barbecue at Al Khaimah
If you are a real adventure seeker. Then this overnight desert safari in Dubai is a pure adventure for you. Our driver/guide will contact you around 2:30 pm for the pick-up and pick you from your hotel/residence. After 40 minutes of the drive, we shall reach in the desert. In the desert, you’ll enjoy 45 minutes of dune bashing along with a photo session on the highest dune in the desert. After dune bashing, we shall take you to our camp and you’ll enjoy BBQ Dinner, Camel Ride, Belly Dance, Fire Show, Tanura Show and much more in the camp. You can stay in our camp for the night and the next morning we shall provide you fresh and healthy breakfast. After breakfast, our driver will pick you from the camp and drop you back to your hotel/residence.
Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Dubai.
How long: 16 hours, departure around 3 pm and return around 10 am next morning; before the start of the tour you will receive an email with a confirmation of the exact departure time from the hotel.
Guide: driver/guide in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Arabic. Guides are generally very well prepared.
Features: tour shared with other participants, in the past you could book the vehicle exclusively, but now it seems that this is no longer possible, in any case, the cost was much higher and not worth it.
Price: the cost is per person, in addition to transport (first with air-conditioned cars and then with uncovered Land Rovers) and the dinner including water, tea, and non-alcoholic drinks includes a falconry demonstration and a cultural show.
Pros: exploring the desert in open vehicles ensures a greater view and a much more engaging experience; in general the Land Rovers proceed slightly apart from each other, and the tour takes place inside a national park. You have therefore more chances to observe the fauna of the desert, gazelles, foxes and if you are (very) lucky also one of the about 100 Arabians oryx living in the reserve.
Cons: no one, the cost is higher than other similar tours. But it is worth the money it costs, here anything, from the means used, to dinner to the toilets available at the camp is of excellent level. Compared to the previous safari and almost all safaris usually offered in Dubai, the number of participants is smaller, and the environment is certainly more collected, but don’t expect to be alone.
To know: keep in mind that during Ramadan the show is held, neither in this safari nor in any other tour offered in the Arab Emirates.
Recommended: if you want a high level of services, the supplier is Camel Ride Dubai Luxury Tours & Safaris, very well rated on TripAdvisor. Celebrities often turn to them, from Kobe Bryant to Thomas Muller to the Australian singer Kylie Minogue.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | Overnight Desert Safari
Quad Bike Safari (ATV) in Dubai
Have you ever driven a quad bike and want to do it in the dunes around Dubai? Well, it is possible, and without spending excessive amounts. So you have the opportunity to try a new medium and at the same time admire the desert. You will be picked up by a driver/guide at your hotel, once you reach the starting point of the tour the guide will give you the driving instructions, and you can personally drive your quad bike in the middle of the desert. The excursion is scheduled for the morning with a return by the end of the morning leaving you free for the rest of the day.
Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Dubai.
How long: 3 hours, departure early in the morning.
Guide: an English, Hindi, Urdu and Arabic speaking guide assists in participants.
Features: shared tour with other participants; one hour on the way to reach the desert. Almost 30 minutes on a quad and an hour to return to the hotel.
Price: the price is per person, the quad is individual.
Pros: the opportunity to at least take a look at the desert surrounding Dubai with a more active excursion than traditional tours. Apart from the quad ride the excursion generally does not include the activity of dune bashing, that is to say, traveling off-road in the middle of the dunes with the jeep.
Cons: don’t think of going where you like and treading the virgin dunes, the guide precedes the participants and all are required to proceed in an orderly row one behind the other; as with all shared tours, both departing and returning will be the pick-up and drop-off of the different participants in different hotels; obviously this takes time.
To know: you can participate if you are over 16 and have a minimum knowledge of driving; generally, 2 participants are required for the tour to be confirmed.
Recommended: if you have never driven a quad this is the right occasion, the route is very easy and suitable for families with kids.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | Quad Bike Safari (ATV) in Dubai
The variant with dinner: the quad ride always lasts 1 hour, but the departure is in the afternoon, and the tour includes the bbq dinner in a desert camp, the total duration of the excursion is 6 hours with return to the hotel in the evening, this the Adventure in Dubai | Dubai Quad Bike Safari and Barbecue Dinner
The variant in Dune Buggy: the same local supplier organizes another variant of this excursion where the 2-seater dune buggy replaces the quad, this is the Adventure in Dubai | Safari in the Dunes driving a Buggy; dune buggies have 800 hp, to participate you must be 18 years old, the price is much more interesting if two people share the buggy alternating with driving. Bring your driving license with you.
Morning Safari in the Half Day Desert
Are you a sports guy? Don’t you care about fake and super touristic Bedouin dinners? With this excursion, besides admiring the desert, you can get a taste of many interesting activities: not only being transported in the dunes on the off-road vehicle but also personally trying to get on a camel, a quad ride and skiing down one of the dunes of sand on a table.
Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Dubai.
How long it takes: 4 hours, in the morning, the departure is generally scheduled between 7 and 9, the day before you will be informed of the exact pick-up time.
Guide: an English, Hindi, Urdu, and Arabic speaking guide assists in participants.
Features: shared tour with other participants or private tour. In addition to transport to and from the hotel, there are 30 minutes off-track in the middle of the dunes on board of the 4WD driven by the driver, an excursion in the dunes of 30 minutes on the quad that drives you following a fixed circuit, a very short camel ride and the chance to try sandboarding.
Price: it is per person, you can choose either the option with the quad or the one without; if you are not interested in the excursion, it becomes extraordinarily cheap and becomes one of the most economical ways to take a look at the desert of Dubai, without spending too much time and spending too much.
Pros: the combination of the off-piste excursion in the desert dunes and the possibility of personally driving a quad.
Cons: I would say nobody, know that the camel ride will be very short, no more than a few minutes; put a stop on the return (usually 20 minutes) to a distributor generally located in the middle of nowhere to re-inflate the vehicle’s tires.
Recommended: if you want to see the desert by trying more activities.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | Morning Safari with Quad, Sandboarding and Camel Ride
Experience in the Desert: Camel Safari | Dubai Camel Safari
Speaking of the desert, a camel excursion could not be missed. In truth, the tour described here is probably the most expensive of the camel safaris offered in Dubai, but at the same time, it is also well organized and takes place inside the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The actual supplier of the service is the excellent Camel Ride Dubai. It is the camp where the dinner is held and the cultural show at the end of the safari.
Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Dubai.
How long: 7 hours, generally starting between 2 pm and 4 pm with a return to the hotel between 9 pm and 11 pm.
Guide: guide in English.
Features: about 1 hour of a shared minivan for the outward and return transfer. In general, the camel is not individual, but together with some other tourists who have chosen the exact same tour, usually there are not many participants; you are on the camel, but it is not you who leads it, it is your guide who precedes on foot holding the camel with a rope. Dinner and show included.
Price: the value is per person, children aged 5 to 11 years have a discount.
Pros: the chance to observe things calmly, the slow pace of the camel ride makes it possible to savor the natural environment that surrounds you, capturing details that escape you when you travel on any motorized vehicle.
Cons: in a 7-hour hike, the camel ride lasts only 45 minutes, and this is something you need to know to avoid getting sick. Although it certainly cannot be considered a long time, the camel ride actually takes place in the desert and not inside the camp and lasts much longer than the scarce 5 minutes of the climb / take pictures/descents of the camel activity within the other off-road tours /quad/dune buggy.
Recommended: for families with school-age children, from elementary school upwards, children under 5 are not admitted.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | Experience in the Desert: Camel Safari with Dinner and Activities in the Emirates from Dubai
If you want to spend less: the camel ride always lasts 45 minutes but the field where you dine and do activities is less sought after, is located in a different area and welcomes more tourists. This is the link where you can find all the info Adventure in Dubai | From Dubai: Camel Ride at Sunset, Entertainment, and Dinner. You can usually choose between the expensive private tour and the decidedly cheaper group tour. It is for the latter that you spend your money well and that the quality/price ratio is really valid; the local supplier is the excellent Adve, very good reviews.
Private Desert Adventure
No shared tour, a driver/guide picks you up at the hotel and takes you into the desert with his 4WD, onboard you’ll be alone without sharing the vehicle with anyone else. The tour is customizable, ask your driver to take you to an area of dunes where there is no one, to experience the magic of the desert without other tourists in sight. If you want to do sandboarding it is already included as well as water and a non-alcoholic drink, but if you want to try the quad you will have to weld it extra on the spot. Usually the shortstop at Ras Al Khor Nature Reserve in the inner part of the Creek before returning to the hotel.
Pick-up and drop-off: any hotel in Dubai.
How long it lasts: 5 hours, usually starting in the morning at 08.30.
Guide: driver/guide in English, you already know his name, and who he is at the time you book.
Features: 100% private tour with 4WD and exclusive driver/guide.
Price: the real value depends on the number of participants, starting from 4 people the cost is perfectly competitive compared to shared tours. Usually, you play a part online when booking with the balance directly to the guide on the morning of the excursion. Usually, the confirmation is immediate upon booking.
Pros: the exclusive means of transport and the possibility of reaching less-frequented desert areas, where you can get off the vehicle and take a walk in the sand in absolute silence. The short visit on the way back to Ras Al Khor Nature Reserve (if things have not changed closed on Friday) to admire the pink flamingos with Dubai skyscrapers in the background.
Cons: I would say nobody.
Recommended: great for everyone but perfect for families and small groups of friends who can have a private vehicle; the tour is at its best if you specify very clearly to your guide that you don’t care about quads and sand boarding but you are looking for an isolated dune with no one else on the horizon.
Info & Reservations: Adventure in Dubai | Private Desert Adventure: Adventure Experience in the Desert
Before booking, read carefully the description of the excursion, what is included, and what is not, the conditions for any cancellations. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the agency’s client office that offers the tour, contacts are listed on the official websites. And as soon as you arrive in Dubai, and in any case, the day before the excursion, through the hotel reconfirms the tour with the local supplier with the exact pick-up time from the hotel.
Read the reviews, things may not always work well, but if most of the reviews are positive, this is a good sign. And always check all the information you’ve read in this article on the official page of each excursion, things change, and the official website reports the latest updates.
Want to know everything (or almost) about Dubai? Read the numerous articles on the city published in this blog. They will help you organize your travels and visits in complete autonomy, you will find them in the main directory dedicated to Dubai. With complete information on transport, my advice on the best neighborhoods to book the hotel, the malls, and the souqs, the water parks, and the most beautiful public beaches. And above all a very detailed guide to visiting Dubai in two days: not a pure list of attractions but a real itinerary, hour by hour, almost road by road, which you can easily follow and spending very little using the subway. I hope you are useful.