Visiting Dubai and not discovering the desert is something you can’t even imagine. When looking for a Safari, you will find countless tours and offers, from camel rides to sunset diners, in groups or private tours, however if you care about respecting the environment and learning from Dubai’s culture and history, you will have to choose wisely. It is important to remember that dune bashing is really harmful for the environment, as there are many tiny animals living under the sand, and some tours don’t really care about it. You can even see plastic bottles and other wastes on your way when going for a camel ride, depending on the place you choose.
When I went to Dubai, I wanted to discover the desert in a genuine way, so I spent much time making my choice which happened to be a very good one to my opinion. I am deeply thankful to the Platinum and Heritage Tours for making this wonderful adventure possible and I am so delighted to share it with you.
Platinum Heritage is the only company allowed to work in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This 225 square kilometers area belongs to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (chairman of Emirates) and was created in order to preserve the desert flora and fona. It is a priviledged place, where you can discover a fascinating world made of mammals, reptiles, insects, spiders and plants of all shapes and sizes, because the desert is far from being an empty place.
So let’s start our tour! Our driver and guide, Samir, picked me up at 4 pm at my hotel. A very nice person with lots of knowledge about Dubai and its history. We covered so many subjects on our way to the desert, from the creation of the United Arab Emirates to the construction of Dubailand, it was varied, educative and much fun. Then we arrived at the reserve.
Old Range Rovers were waiting for us. They belonged to the British and were left after they left Dubai. Much better than staying in closed cars with air conditioning, which is the reason why it is better to choose a Safari at the end of the day so that you can stand the heat.
There were also Camels for those who went for a Camel ride, which I didn’t choose, but I still spent some time with them before we go.
And the adventures begin! We took a unique route that we also took on our way back. It is important to preserve the tiny animals living under the sand, therefore there is no dune bashing or multiple routes on this tour.
We met Oryx, gazelles, we learnt how they manage to eat and stay hydrated, how they reproduce, how to differentiate the sand gazelle from the desert one, and much more.
There is also a lot to learn about the trees, herbs, shrubs and grass. Some are hydrating, others can be easily used to make fire, many of them are used as natural remedies. It is impressive to see how all those plants can survive in such a harsh environment. Our guide also took some iron from the sand, and explained how it causes the days to be very hot and the nights to be colder.
After the ride, we discovered Falconry. Although it is a national sport, it is much more than leisure. Falconry belongs to Dubai’s history and was a way for people to hunt and, therefore, survive. The falcon is a very important symbol that appears in many places and it was really important for me to see a little more (which is the reason why I visited the Falcon Heritage and sports Center a few days later).
We were explained how a falcon is trained with a demonstration, asked as may questions as we needed and took a few pics with the little hero.
Then we headed to the camp where we spent the end of the day. We were warmly welcomed with the traditional rose water, dates and coffee.
Delicious meals and drinks prepared in a traditional way were waiting for us but we began with a very educative talk about Emirati cuisine depending on the place where people live (sea, mountain or desert). We tasted camel milk, cheese and meet, before being served a delicious and more than satiating diner.
Time for digestion, the night temperature was pleasant and allowed us to rest, talk and laugh a lot. A lovely way to end this wonderful day.
I tried several Safari tours and I couldn’t advise you anything but Platinum Heritage. All the employees are really professional and pleasant, the guides have much knowledge on any subjects concerning Dubai and the UAE in general. The tour was beautiful, educational and we definitely have to support companies that still care about respecting the environment.
Here’s a short video of our wonderful adventures in the desert: