UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Must do in Abu Dhabi: desert safari with dune bashing and dance

Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates and a perfect destination for either a stop-over or a week holiday from Europe. There is a lot to see and do but also leaves enough time to just relax and unwind. While searching cheap airline tickets I stumbled upon a ticket from Berlin to Abu Dhabi with a transfer in Amman on Jordanian Airlines. I didn’t hesitate to book these 125 euro return tickets for the family autumn holiday. I usually plan way too much while travelling which was not possible in Abu Dhabi as I visited it before. There was enough time to relax this time. One thing you must do in Abu Dhabi is a desert safari and I did this with Emirates Tours & Safari, a company I used also during my previous trip. I had a blast this day with my family and I’m sure you will agree that this is a must do Abu Dhabi desert safari trip.

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari: Camel Farm

An Abu Dhabi desert safari normally starts just after lunch time. The driver from Emirates Tours arrived on time and we were on our way to the camel farm first. At the camel farm the cars will release the pressure from the tires to make them ready for dune bashing. Dune bashing is driving (read: crossing) off-road through the desert. At the camel farm, there is time to make pictures with the camels. Use a wide-angle lens to get the face of the camel big in the front to give the photo a funny look. Depending of the time of the year there will be also baby camels as you can see in the picture below. After a short time, when all the cars arrived, the dune bashing will start. I arranged to be the second car in the convoy for better photography: a car in front to photograph and the convoy behind it to make photos of too.

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari: Dune Bashing

Dune bashing means crossing off-road through the desert dunes. In Abu Dhabi are the best dunes of the United Arab Emirates so it’s the best place to make a desert safari. During an Abu Dhabi desert safari, you will cross in the desert for about an hour with a short stop half way to make pictures. It goes fast, very fast, up and down the dunes. Sideways, a jump over it and sand will cover the car if it hits the soft sand. Have a look at the gallery below for some action photos.

The dune bashing during an Abu Dhabi desert safari takes place just before sunset giving the dunes a beautiful warm red color. This is the perfect time to make photos. Just make sure you put your camera to the fastest shutter speed possible while still getting enough light. In my case I made all pictures at 1/1250 seconds which made them just a bit dark but I could correct that later. It’s impossible to use longer shutter speeds as the ride is very bumpy! Read about my photo editing workflow how I do this. The drivers are very experienced and know what they do so don’t worry as you’ll be safe in the strengthened cars. I had a huge blast with my family and I hope to do my own driving next time I visit Abu Dhabi. After all the action, it’s time for the camp activities.

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari: Camp Activities

At the private camp of Emirates Tours in the desert one can enjoy sand boarding, quad biking, camel rides, henna tattoo, shisha smoking and a dance performance after dinner. I have done enough camel rides while travelling so I skipped that and sand boarding involves way too much sand for me; the kids however enjoyed it a lot. My son and I went for a 20-minute quad drive into the desert, an adventure activity. He by accident jumped over a dune but with all the safety in place nothing happened. We had a lot of fun together and still talk about it today. The girls went to get a henna tattoo and to smoke shisha as my daughter was too young to go quad biking.

Dinner is served around 7PM which includes a delicious buffet with a huge variety of Arabic dishes. I prefer beef and their grilled beef was delicious together with fresh salad and humus. Soft drinks are included but alcoholic drinks must be paid additional. Before and after dinner it’s also possible to dress up like a local or smoke some more shisha. Around 8PM it’s time for an Arabic dance performance which is done by a beautiful dancer. After a few acts you can join the dancing 🙂 and test your moves. My flight was early next morning so “luckily” I had to leave directly after the dance performance to catch some sleep. The drivers in general can drive you back to your hotel at any point during the trip if you want, but who wants to miss the evening action?

I had a lot of fun with my family this day. Emirates Tours & Safari is truly an outstanding tour operator who knowns how to give their clients a blast. Personally, I liked the dune bashing and quad driving the most. I hope one day to learn driving the dunes myself; hopefully during a next trip. My way of booking cheap business class fares often gives me a day in Abu Dhabi so why not learn driving in the dunes? Read about my previous trip to Abu Dhabi to see what you can do more there.

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Gallery Abu Dhabi Desert Safari

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.