Dubai Desert Safari – A Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors

Dubai is a dazzling dream destination for many globetrotters, especially for the first-timers– it has captivating awe for wanderers. Dubai is a perfect blend of modern and cultural elements, surrounded by high-rise buildings and cultural sites placed into dedicated nooks. The true beauty of Dubai, however, lies deep within the expansive lands covered in golden dunes, outside the city’s boundaries. You can do so much more in the Arabian desert if you know what kind of experience you want. This post outlines what a first-time visitor can do while on a desert safari in Dubai.

What exactly is a Dubai Desert Safari?

A desert safari is a classic and adventurous way to get away from Dubai’s modern glimmer into the sandy landscapes of the Arabian desert. This desert safari Dubai guide offers an overview on what a typical experience looks like.

desert safari tour
  • A safari tour typically consists of transfers, where you will be chauffeured from a pickup location or hotel. The vehicle used is a sturdy 4×4 SUV that can cover long distances and be even driven on sand dunes. You can upgrade your safari experience and change your vehicle preference while booking your tour. There are also options to book private vehicles for your transfers to the desert. 
  • Once you reach, you will gear up for  the action-packed experiences that are a part of your specific desert safari package. Camel rides and adventure sports are the typical part of a desert safari. If your package includes a sundowner and dining experience, you can indulge in an Arabic BBQ dinner while watching folklore performances, belly dancing, tanoura dance shows, along with other Arabic activities like henna tattooing and shisha sessions, to name a few. 
  • After enjoying to the fullest in the desert, you will be dropped at your hotel when it is time to head back to the city. In case you are on an overnight journey, you can spend the night in the sublime surroundings of the desert and head back to the city the next morning.
  • The desert safari is so popular that several beliefs have been linked to it. Among the various belief, the most common myths about Dubai desert safari are that all the desert safaris offer the same kind of experiences, and they are dangerous. In reality, it depends on with whom you’re going on a safari tour. That’s why choosing an experienced tour operator or safari company is important. The desert safaris are not dangerous as experienced and licensed professionals conduct them.

Types of Dubai Desert Safari

Also, learn the important differences between Dubai and Abu Dhabi desert safari as both offer different types of adventures and experiences. Pick the option that best suits your holiday based on adventure, preferences, time and luxury.

  • Sunrise Desert Safari

    Discover the beauty of the desert in a pleasant atmosphere with sunrise desert safari Dubai. This unforgettable adventure begins at your location when you’re picked up by a driver at 4 or 4:30 am. When you leave the city in the early hours and head to the desert, you can witness the stark contrast between the bustling city and the tranquil beauty of the desert. When the first light of the day falls on the golden sand dunes, you will enjoy a burst of eye-catching colors. The breathtaking scenery will ignite the photographer in you and also make you bow before the sheer power of nature. The Sunrise Safari Dubai is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Arabian desert and loads of activities that combine thrill, and adventure. For those looking to escape the hustle and enjoy a peaceful start to the day, the sunrise safari Dubai guarantees an enchanting experience.
  • Morning Desert Safari Dubai

    Start your day off with a rejuvenating morning desert safari Dubai, which is perfectly designed to help you experience adventure and peace in one single package. On this safari tour, you will leave your hotel in the early hours in a chauffeured car and head to the desert where exciting activities are programmed for you right in the heart of the Arabian desert. As the desert temperatures is pleasant in the morning, you will enjoy sandboarding, camel riding and dune bashing in Dubai . As the sun starts to rise over the enormous stretch of the desert, it transforms the sand dunes into attractive colors with its light. For an adventurer at heart and a nature admirer, the morning safari is perfect to experience the sublime beauty of the Arabian desert.
  • Adventure Desert Safari

    For those seeking a high rush of adrenaline in the red dunes of Dubai, Adventure Desert Safari is your best option. You can start with a fierce dune bashing and enjoy a rollercoaster ride on the undulating dunes. It is the best way to enjoy the desert fun and thrill. The vast arid land of Dubai makes a beautiful playground for your adventures. You can choose from quad biking, sand boarding, dune buggy rides in Dubai, and much more to make the most of it.
  • Luxury Safari

    Many tour operators are offering premium packages where all the inclusions in a desert safari are customised and upgraded to suit the guests’ utmost comfort. These packages are ideal for those who enjoy mild adventure and want to experience a desert safari with a hint of Dubai’s luxury flair. Luxury safari focuses more on spending quality time in the desert dunes rather than having hot-sweaty sessions of adventure sports. It is suited for those who would like to get away from the city but would want the refined services and amenities of city life in the desert. The inclusions vary but usually consist of a drive through the desert expanse in premium rovers to: spot wildlife, enjoy falconry shows, have a lavish pre-set menu dinner in suave tents, go on camel rides, and watch live belly dancing, pyrotechnic displays, and acrobatic performances. If you don’t want to miss the adrenaline rush, you can customise the tour by adding dune-bashing, quad biking, or your choice of desert sports. 
  • Overnight Safari

    Want to stay away from the city for a longer period? Then opt for overnight desert safari tours where you can spend an entire day and night in the blissful setting of the Arabian deserts. You can encounter a variety of ambient changes as you start the tour with thrilling sports, and the desert transforms into an exciting playground. As the day progresses, the excitement fades into tranquillity as the sun sets on the fiery red horizon. Then, under a sky sprinkled with shimmering stars, the magic of Dubai’s desert folklore, live fire shows, and merriment fill the air. Finally, the hum ebbs into the stillness of the black night, where the crackle of bonfires and casual conversations hang in the air until it is time to unwind and call it a night with a comfortable slumber in the middle of the desert. Early morning, you are reignited with enthusiasm as you catch an early sunrise on the horizon and have a light breakfast before you head back to Dubai City. 
Dubai desert safari

What to Wear on a Desert Safari Tour?

Dubai is a destination where summer rules all season. Although it is always hot, the temperature does change slightly from month to month. So when planning an outdoor excursion, it is crucial to know what to wear to be comfortable on your trip. Dubai emphasises on dressing modestly and the same has to be adhered to while enjoying a sunny outing in the emirate. So, it is not possible to wear outfits that Western nations would consider acceptable, such as strapless, sleeveless attire, sheer clothing, crop tops, or skirts or shorts in the desert.

So how should you dress up for a desert safari tour? Here are some tips to follow: 

Men: The best clothing for a desert safari is a loose-fitting, light-coloured, airy pair of trousers, shorts, or khakis paired with a full-sleeve shirt or t-shirt. Make sure to wear a cap or an Arabian headscarf ghutra to protect your head from the harsh sun’s rays. Wearing boots will be beneficial when enjoying sand-based adventures. 

Women: Avoid wearing flowing apparel like long gowns and skirts. The best clothing is a loose top and a pair of light-coloured, cotton, or linen trousers that are knee-length or longer. Wearing pointed accessories is not advised. Choose closed-toe shoes instead of heels or sandals, which are unfit as desert footwear and will end up hurting your feet.

Do’s and Don’t on a Desert Safari Tour

  • Before you book a Dubai Desert Safari tour, be sure to consider the season, time of day, level of adventure, and budget. Ramadan and the sweltering summer months of Dubai in March through September are not the best times to plan excursions. 
  • The desert safari tour is not advised for pregnant women or young children (mostly under four years of age) because it is far from the city and, therefore, difficult to get help in the event of an unexpected emergency.
  • If you have back problems, heart issues, vertigo, or motion sickness, then it is best not to go ahead with dune bashing or high-speed thrills in the desert as it may aggravate the conditions. Dune bashing can feel like a roller coaster ride with sudden jerks and swift turns. It is a rough ride hence have light meals before you go for this experience. 
  • Carry only what is necessary for your trip in a small bag. Avoid carrying important documents or valuables during your safari tour. Always carry sunscreen, sunglasses, a sun hat, a scarf, and a jacket as the weather turns chilly after evenings. 
  • Stay hydrated.

What to Prepare for on a Desert Safari in Dubai?

1) Clothing:

  • Loose and lightweight clothing is essential for the desert climate.
  • Consider long sleeves and pants to protect against the sun and potential sand exposure.
  • Carry a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for additional sun protection.

2) Footwear:

  • Wear closed shoes or sandals with ankle straps to prevent sand from entering your shoes and a good grip to walk in the sand.
  • Comfortable footwear is crucial, especially if you plan to participate in activities like dune bashing.

3) Camera and Accessories:

  • Capture the breathtaking moments by bringing a camera with sufficient storage.
  • Protect your camera and phone from sand with zip-lock bags or protective cases.

4) Essential Documents:

  • Carry a valid ID, passport, and any necessary permits for the desert safari.
  • Ensure your travel insurance is up to date.

5) Snacks and Refreshments:

  • Pack light snacks to keep your energy up during the safari.
  • Some tours may provide refreshments, but it is wise to have a few snacks on hand in case you have any allergies.

6) Cash and Tipping:

  • Tipping is a common practice and a way to show appreciation for excellent service.
  • Carry some cash for tipping guides, drivers, and any additional services.

7) Medications:

  • If you have specific medical needs, bring the necessary medications.
  • Include motion sickness pills if you are prone to car-related discomfort during activities like dune bashing.

8) Electronic Gadgets:

  • Bring a power bank for your electronic devices, as you might not have access to charging stations in the desert.
  • Consider bringing a portable fan or cooling towel to combat the heat.

Best Places in and Around Dubai for a Desert Safari:

1) Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: Explore the pristine beauty of the desert with guided tours and wildlife encounters in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Experience the serenity of the dunes away from the bustling city.

2) Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve: The Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve ishome to diverse flora and fauna, offering a more secluded desert experience. It is ideal for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a quieter desert safari.

3) Liwa Oasis: Known for its towering dunes, Liwa Oasis provides a unique and picturesque desert setting. It is perfect for thrill-seekers interested in high-intensity dune bashing.

4) Hatta Desert: The Hatta Desertcombines the beauty of the desert with the charm of mountains and wadis. It offers a diverse landscape, making it a versatile choice for a desert safari.

5) Dubai Desert Safari Camps: Many operators set up camps in the desert, providing an immersive experience with cultural activities and entertainment. The camel rides, traditional dance performances, and stargazing opportunities provided in the desert safari package add to the overall safari experience.

6) Al Aweer: Al Aweer is a popular starting point for many desert safari adventures, conveniently located on the outskirts of Dubai. Located around forty kilometres from the city centre, Al Aweer is an excellent choice for those seeking a quick escape from the city. The dunes in Al Aweer offer a diverse landscape, perfect for thrilling dune bashing experiences. This area is often less crowded, providing a more serene and private desert safari.

7) Al Khatim: For those looking to venture a bit farther from Dubai, Al Khatim is a pristine desert location known for its expansive dunes and tranquil surroundings. Situated 170 kilometres from Dubai, adjacent to E22 amidst Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, Al Khatim’s vast and untouched dunes offer a picturesque setting – ideal for photography enthusiasts. The quieter atmosphere allows visitors to connect with the desert’s natural beauty and enjoy activities like sandboarding in a more secluded environment.

Best Desert Safari Tips in Detail:

1) Choose the Right Time: Opt for morning or evening safaris to avoid the peak of the desert heat. The sunset safaris offer stunning views and cooler temperatures.

2) Select Reputable Tour Operators: Research and choose a well-reviewed and reputable tour operator for a safe and enjoyable experience. Check for licenses and certifications.

3) Communicate Dietary Restrictions: If your safari includes meals, inform the operator about any dietary restrictions or preferences in advance.

4) Follow Safety Guidelines: Adhere to safety instructions, especially during activities like dune bashing. Wear seatbelts and follow the guide’s advice for a secure experience.

5) Pack Essentials: Bring essentials like a first aid kit, insect repellent, and wet wipes. Pack a light jacket for cooler desert evenings.

6) Respect the Environment: Follow “Leave No Trace” principles and respect the fragile desert ecosystem. Avoid littering and stay on designated paths.

7) Photography Tips: Capture the best shots by taking advantage of the golden hour during sunrise or sunset. Experiment with different angles to make the most of the stunning desert scenery.

8) Dress Appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing for the activities planned and bring an extra layer for cooler evenings. Avoid loose-flowing dresses that may cause inconvenience during activities.

9) Cultural Sensitivity: Respect local customs and traditions when interacting with guides and locals. Dress modestly respecting the local customs.

10) Emergency Contact Information: Have emergency contact information readily available. Share your itinerary with someone trustworthy in case of unforeseen circumstances.

11) Weather Considerations: Checkthe weather forecast before the start of your safari and prepare accordingly. Be aware of any weather-related changes that might affect your plans.

12) Post-Safari Adventure Relaxation: Plan some downtime after the safari to relax and recover, especially if you have participated in adrenaline-pumping activities.


In most Dubai holiday packages, a nudge to explore its sprawling desert dunes is offered with a desert safari trip. You can go beyond and get yourself a fully customised experience based on your interests as well. To sum it up, a desert safari tour is a not-to-miss experience while visiting this emirate – as it gives you a reality check of Dubai’s humble beginnings and resplendent natural beauty before the glitz and swankiness of modern lifestyle transformed it into the extravagant megacity it is today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1) What is the best time to experience a desert safari in Dubai?

The most popular times are during sunrise or sunset when temperatures are more comfortable, and the desert landscape is bathed in golden hues. It is a magical experience for both photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.

2) Are vegetarian or special dietary alternatives available during desert safari meals?

Vegetarian and other dietary preferences are offered by many tour providers. In order to guarantee a satisfying dining experience, it is advisable to let your tour provider know about any dietary needs or preferences in advance.

3) How long does a typical desert safari in Dubai last?

The duration can vary, but most desert safaris last around 6 hours, including transportation to and from the desert. Private tours or overnight experiences may have different durations.

4) What types of wildlife can be encountered during a desert safari?

Even though the Dubai desert has adapted to its dry climate, you may still see gazelles, Arabian oryx, and a variety of bird species.

5) How should I prepare for dune bashing, and is it suitable for everyone?

Dune bashing is an exhilarating experience, but it may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions. It is advisable to inform your guide about any health concerns, and pregnant women are not allowed to embark on a desert safari tour.

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