Luxury Dubai Evening Desert Safari

Desert safari camp

No visit to Dubai is complete without a luxury Dubai evening desert safari, and the best desert safari is one that is both an adrenalin rush and an entertaining evening with good food and traditional Arabic hospitality.

I didn’t truly appreciate the endless majesty of the desert landscape or understand the profound attachment that it’s inhabitants have to it, until I did my first Dubai evening desert safari.

It was May 2007 and my cousin was on a 3 night Dubai stopover before he traveled onward for his work assignment in the UK. He invited me to join him on a desert safari as I had never been on one in the six months since I arrived to start my expat life in Dubai.

After a 30 minute drive to the outskirts of the city, the convoy of Land Rovers stopped at a small strip mall to de-pressurise their tyres. We were encouraged to go inside the shops and because it was hot, buy water and ice lollies. My poor cousin nearly fainted when he saw that two soft drinks and two ice lollies cost over AED50. Thankfully that was the last shock of the day.

I was spellbound by the undulating dunes that varied in color from sandy beige and peachy brown to light taupe rose as the light faded at sunset, and have been entranced by the desert since.

My second experience with Simone and my brother on a desert safari in 2012 was such a disappointment. I booked the tours on Groupon because at the time I had no idea which ones were any good, and it was cheap. The disillusionment started when we were moved from the brand new Land Cruiser that came to pick us up, to a 20 year old vehicle with threadbare seats for the dune bashing part of the safari. The actual dune bashing consisted of driving over the sand from the main road to the farm where the dinner was being held. The ‘dunes’ were no higher than the molehills in a garden.

Read more: Pros and Cons of Expat life in Dubai

Dubai Evening Desert Safari

How to choose a Dubai Evening Desert Safari

The cost of desert safari in Dubai varies by company and depends on the package selected at the time of booking. The most popular is the evening desert safari that includes dinner and entertainment, but there are also options for an overnight desert safari or a morning desert safari.

  • Many of the desert safari deals offered online are very basic, with the safari part being nothing more than a rough ride over a few sand hills (not even actual dunes), followed by a low quality dinner. In my experience the cheaper the price of desert safari deals, the worse the experience. That can range from old vehicles that can barely scale a dune (hence the rough ride over aforementioned sand hills) to reheated food that was cooked in the morning.
  • Book your Dubai Desert safari tours with registered tour operators. This is important because the registered tour operators employ skilled drivers who know how to maneuver the vehicles on the sand dunes. Unskilled drivers are a health hazard as they may cause accidents on the dunes during the dune bashing or get stuck in the sand and burn out the engine trying to get free.
  • All reputable operators offer a pick up and drop off service from your hotel or residence. This is particularly important at the end of the night when you are exhausted and reach back to the city between 22:00 and 23:00.
  • Reputable tour operators offer complimentary water during the desert safari. Many others stop at pre-determined road side stores to de-pressurise their tyres and encourage tour participants to purchase often ridiculously priced water, soft drinks and snacks.
  • Individuals with impaired mobility must check whether wheelchair users can be accommodated on a desert safari. Others with impaired mobility or joint diseases, like myself, find sitting on carpets on the ground to dine on low tables extremely uncomfortable, if not painful.
  • If you suffer from motion sickness I would advise that you drink your medication when you leave the city. I had forgotten to take mine and by the end of it I was feeling like my head was going to explode and I was very close to vomiting.

Read more: The Best Time to visit Dubai (a resident’s guide)

What is included on a VVIP Dubai Evening Desert Safari

I have been on a few over the past 13 years but the best desert safari in Dubai was the most recent luxury VVIP Dubai evening desert safari with Royal Mirage Tours, for a team building session. The skilled drivers made the dune bashing more fun and exhilarating than a roller coaster ride. The Desert safari camp felt like a palace out of my Arabian dreams.

The desert safari price in Dubai ranges from AED 130 per person for a non-private arabian desert safari to AED 500 plus per person for a VVIP evening desert safari in Dubai.

At the time of booking this VVIP tour from Royal Mirage tours cost AED 2500 per SUV with a maximum of 6 passengers. They also have private desert safari tours for AED 1600 per SUV. The standard evening Desert safari in Dubai costs AED 230 per person in a shared SUV. The private and standard evening desert safaris do not include all the activities of the VVIP option.

  • Pickup and Drop off to any designated place (pickup from 14:00 and drop off from 21:30)
  • Drive by visit to the Camel Race Arena and Dubai Camel hospital
  • Dune Bashing
  • Sand Boarding
  • Quad Bike Ride (20 Mins)
  • Desert sunset view
  • Bedouin inspired Desert safari camp
  • Traditional Arabic welcome with fresh dates and coffee or tea
  • Camel Riding and photography
  • Henna Painting
  • Falcon photography
  • Dinner Buffet
  • Tanoura Dance Show
  • Belly Dance Show
  • Fire Dance Show

Read more: Where to stay in Dubai for all budgets

What to wear on a Dubai evening desert safari

  • Mandatory requirements are a sunhat or visor and sunglasses to protect your eyes against the harsh desert sun.
  • If the wind picks up and you suffer from any allergies it is advisable to wear an anti-dust face mask or even disposable surgical masks. This will prevent the fine desert sand from filling up your nasal passages and airways. A thin scarf may be used instead.
  • Closed shoes or sneakers are easier to walk with on the hot sand.
  • Long sleeved t-shirts and trousers are advisable to protect limbs from the hot sun and sand when out on the dunes for sandboarding or quad bike rides.

Read more: What to wear in Dubai – The Dubai dress code

Dune bashing Dubai

The drivers must de-pressurize the tyres before the vehicles go out on the dunes for dune bashing to prevent the vehicles from sinking into the dunes. We stopped briefly at an exhibit of military vehicles while they did this.

Tour participants have an opportunity to try sandboarding when the dune bashing is completed. It is a fun activity, but can be a struggle to learn how to balance for long enough to get to the bottom of the dune without toppling off the sandboard. Getting back up the dune is a mission and by the end of it you may have sand lurking in every orifice.

When the dune bashing is over they need to re-inflate the tyres to drive on the roads.

Toyota Land Cruisers after dune bashing

Quad bike safari Dubai

After the sand boarding the desert safari continues with a quad bike safari at a small village a short distance from the desert. There is a camel viewing area and a few small kiosks for refreshments.

Bedouin inspired desert safari camp

The bedouin style desert safari camp was a luxuriously appointed thing of beauty. Surrounded by palm trees, it was a respite from the desert winds and heat and had luxurious clean rest rooms, a souk as well as a chillout and shisha area. The large dining area was adjacent to the stage for after dinner entertainment.

Desert safari welcome tent

Dubai Evening Desert Safari chillout area

Camel ride Dubai

The evening desert safari camp had complimentary camel rides after the welcome drinks and dates were consumed.

Dubai desert safari dinner buffet

The buffet dinner offered on the Dubai evening desert safari by Royal Mirage Tours is as good as any you will find in a five star hotel in Dubai. The catering is done by the Jebel Ali Golf Resort Hospitality and Events division and all foods are freshly cooked on the afternoon and evening of the event.

The variety was astounding, from Arabic Cold Mezzeh and a full salad bar and bread, to soup, fresh barbeque and hot dishes including grilled fish with lemon butter sauce, lamb tagine and vegetable korma. This was followed by a variety of hot and cold desserts.

Soft drinks and juices were complimentary with the dinner but all alcoholic beverages are chargeable.

Dubai evening desert safari bbq

Dubai evening desert safari desserts

I love making desserts more than eating them, but always feel obliged to taste a variety to check how good they are 🙂

My favorite Arabic dessert is Umm Ali and Barazek cookies (pistachio, honey and sesame).

After dinner entertainment

After dinner we were entranced by the tanoura, belly dance and fire dance shows. The skill of the tanoura and belly dancers was evident and made for very entertaining routines. To preserve the modesty of the female performers we chose not to display any photos of their revealing outfits.

The fire dance show was amazing and hard to capture on video or photo.

To keep warm during the evening we wrapped ourselves in the soft clean fleecy blankets provided by the establishment. By the time we left for the 45 minute drive back to Dubai we were exhausted but thoroughly content. It was a wonderful afternoon on the dunes of the Dubai desert and an evening spent eating delicious and tasty food and being entertained by skilled performers. This is one activity worth paying extra for because it is a truly unforgettable once in a lifetime experience.

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  • Reply
    October 30, 2019 at 3:44 am

    Sounds like an incredible experience! I’ll had to add it to my list whenever I visit Dubai!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2019 at 12:15 am

    You are giving me major wanderlust here! This looks fantastic!

  • Reply
    Pia - Dream and Wanderland
    October 28, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Great experience! I did a desert tour in Morocco a couple of years ago. Not that luxurious but still an extraordinary experience!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2019 at 2:56 am

    Wow this looks like an unbelievable experience!

  • Reply
    Vanessa Shields
    October 27, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    What a great and informative post with so much helpful details! I especially like how you clarify the difference between a good and bad safari. I would love to experience this one day! 😁

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    What a fun experience! Would love to do it too!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Wow, there is so much included in the package! Sounds really worth it for a full day of activities and meals in addition to the actual dune ride.

    I imagine climbing up the dunes so you can board down is a real workout, I’d probably do it a couple times and then be ok lol. The bedouin style camp looks gorgeous! I’d love to do all of this and then stay overnight in a desert camp too. I bet the stars looks crazy out there.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    This sound super super amazing! I’m planning to visit Dubai during the winter, and I’ve been looking for great desert safaris. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 27, 2019 at 7:17 pm

      Winter in Dubai is perfect for a desert safari or enjoying the beach.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    This looks like such a great experience! I’d love to go on a desert safari like this one – thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    This looks like a great experience! I hope to enjoy it sometime soon!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 11:42 am

    This looks super cool! There’s so much included in the one you’ve done! I’ve never been attracted to Dubai but I’d happily do this. Thanks for this very detailed post!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 7:17 am

    This is such a fun activity in Dubai! The food look so delicious according to the photos. I must add this to my bucket list!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know there were different kinds of desert safari in Dubai, I pretty much thought they are all the same! This is good to know, thank you! I think I would love to try quad biking if I were to go on this luxury desert safari experience 🙂

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 27, 2019 at 12:40 am

      The quad biking seemed like so much fun so you should definitely do it.

  • Reply
    Bliss Eatts
    October 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    The VVIP safari looks and sounds amazing! What a great experience. I want to do it.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 27, 2019 at 12:41 am

      You won’t regret it, as it is a superlative experience for sure 👍

  • Reply
    Celebrate Woman Today
    October 26, 2019 at 6:33 am

    First-hand knowledge from those who’ve been and done it is so invaluable! This post is a must-read before you venture out to Dubai!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 27, 2019 at 12:41 am

      You are so right! Regrettably too many write about experiences they’ve never had.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    This looks like unreal fun! I absolutely love dune bashing and it would make me feel much better to have an expert driving, lol. I want to do this badly!!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Expert drivers on the dunes are a must. Our driver told us that the week before our tour an inexperienced driver had rolled his SUV while scaling a steep dune . Others burn out their engines when their vehicles get stuck in the deep soft sand.

  • Reply
    Kavita Favelle
    October 25, 2019 at 9:50 am

    We meant to do something like this in Dubai but in the end, chilled in our resort most of the time. But it does look wonderful, and I like your tips for choosing one of the better packages available. I’d love to quad bike in particular, looks so much fun. The food looks amazng!

  • Reply
    Sage Scott
    October 25, 2019 at 2:05 am

    My one and only visit to Dubai was for a work trip. While we were able to ascend the Burj Khalifa, that was about all we got to do besides work. So, I didn’t even know about luxury evening safaris until I read this article. (And clearly, I missed out on something truly amazing.) Wow!

  • Reply
    Tiffany Khyla
    October 25, 2019 at 1:13 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Dubai, and this post definitely makes me want to go on a desert safari (*adds to bucket list*). Thank you so much for this informative post! Booking travel excursions overseas is something I’m always wary about because I don’t know the ins and outs of the country and its businesses. This seriously helps so much! That buffet dinner looks and sounds amazing! I would totally be onboard for a desert safari that ended with some good food!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Most of the evening desert safaris include food but the quality is not always up to par. The less luxurious ones all seem to have a similar menu that is a tad uninspiring to be honest: Pre-cooked bbq, salads, curry and rice, dessert.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Once a year, my husband and I go on a big, adventurous vacation. We are starting to plan our next trip and Dubai is on the list. Knowing that we can have an experience like this is amazing!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 24, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      If you fly Emirates you could include a 72 hour stopover if Dubai is on your bucket list but you don’t want to spend too long here 👍

  • Reply
    From Jess to You Services
    October 24, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    So adventurous and I definitely want to travel more if my trips could be just like your photos. =0)

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 24, 2019 at 9:55 pm

      Haha Jess. I’m not an insta babe so the travel photos have to be pretty by themselves 😂

  • Reply
    Chelsea Pearl
    October 24, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    This experience is my dream! I love anything involving cars and adventure. Also, those desserts look amazing!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    This is all so helpful! Thank you! I’ve been to Egypt before but I was very young and you’ve definitely inspired me to go again

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I love to travel. Dubai sounds amazing. I would love to go there some day

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Dubai is on my bucket list! Will definitely visit the desert if I ever go.

  • Reply
    Clare Minall
    October 24, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    This is so classic place! The foods looks so delicious. I feel the vibes on those picture. And also i even taste the food with an eye. It is prepared very good and garnish on its perfection!

  • Reply
    Julie Syl
    October 24, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    So many great activities to do in Dubai, thanks for sharing guides and tips, I hope to visit there someday.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    It looks so cozy and charming! You got me with the desert, it must have been delicious! I can’t wait to visit Dubai

    • Reply
      October 24, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      OMG! I have to do this! It looks like so much fun especially when you add desert activities.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    This is looks so adventurous! I’ll must try to ride on a camel. This will be a best experience for me.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 9:42 am

    This is so cool!! I would absolutely love to go on a desert safari, sounds like so much fun!!!

    cute & little

  • Reply
    Heather - That OC Girl
    October 24, 2019 at 7:17 am

    I love this! A desert safari is on my bucket list!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Thanks for sharing guidelines and your experience in Dubai, it seems like you had a really great time there.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 4:37 am

    That’s so interesting! I would love to go on a desert safari in Dubai. The evening desert safari that includes dinner and entertainment seems like the best option.

  • Reply
    Mommy Bloggers Philippines
    October 24, 2019 at 2:05 am

    This is one great experience, never been to a desert nor a safari! And never thought there were luxury tours!

  • Reply
    Josy A
    October 24, 2019 at 1:21 am

    Goodness, it sounds like you have SUCH a big difference in the various tours! I guess if you are only going to do this once, it makes sense to go for the luxury version! 😉

    I LOVE the look of that Bedouin inspired desert safari camp. Was the food as tasty as it looks?

  • Reply
    October 23, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    I went on practically the same tour a couple of years ago and it was such a magical experience! I want to take my partner next year! Such a great guide

  • Reply
    Christina Gavrilas-Pearson
    October 23, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Oh my gosh this look so exciting and adventurous. I especially love the quad biking, looks so fun.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Wow, this looks like an amazing tour! I have never been on a dune tour but this service has a lot of to do!

  • Reply
    Kate Murray
    October 23, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    This looks amazing, I’ve never experienced a desert safari, so I appreciated reading all about it!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      It definitely is worth the time and money and is a fabulous way to spend a few hours seeing the beautiful desert landscapes.

      • Reply
        October 23, 2019 at 7:14 pm

        This looks like such a fun trip! I’ve always wanted to see the desert. And sandboarding sounds like a lot of fun!

        • Reply
          Razena Schroeder
          October 23, 2019 at 7:17 pm

          I took so many videos of the sand boarding. There was so many falls and tumbles when they couldn’t balance properly and the spectators had as much entertainment as the participants.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    I’ve been dying to visit Dubai and a desert safari sounds super fun. I did the Sahara in Morocco but I didn’t enjoy spending the night there. Your desert safari experience in Dubai sounds much more fun. The dune bashing sounds so fun!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 23, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      The drivers for this company are very skilled on the dunes and knew exactly how to maneuver their SUV for the best rollercoaster experience 😂

  • Reply
    October 23, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    This looks like a fabulous adventure. I would love the dune bashing and all of that delicious looking food!!! I bet the evenings are so still and quiet. Amazing

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 23, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      The food was so good. I was a bit queasy after the drive (I get seasick too) but by the time we reached the camp and smelled the food aromas my hunger came in full force.

  • Reply
    Rudy @ Backpack & Snorkel
    October 22, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Wow, I had heard about the dunes tours, but was not aware of the luxury tours. Those sound like a lot of fun.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 22, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      I loved it so much more than the others I had been on. A completely elevated luxurious experience.

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