When a brief window opened up in my work schedule, I seized the opportunity to take a much needed getaway. I wanted to venture somewhere exotic, out of the ordinary from a run of the mill, all-inclusive or romantic European vacation. The answer, Dubai
Once a vacant desert, Dubai has transformed itself into the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates in a shockingly short amount of time. Through use of its oil bounty, this city has catapulted into a premier travel destination, implementing groundbreaking architectural innovation and opulence at every turn. Although known for being a playground for the rich and famous, this glittering emirate truly does cater to all types of travelers from luxury lovers to adventure seekers alike.
Before my trip, I did a bit of research and knew I wanted to experience more than just Dubai's beautiful beaches, extravagant malls and fine dining options. I repeatedly read rave reviews about people's experience on sand dune safaris and knew I had to try it. I booked an excursion online with Dubai Desert Safari
the night before my tour and was immediately contacted by a guide to confirm the pickup time the following day.
My guide, Malik, arrived the next afternoon in an SUV that looked far too pristine for the abuse it was about to endure. We drove 40 minutes outside the city, stopping once to pick up a couple who was visiting from Turkey and again to deflate the tires to improve the truck's stability on the dunes. As we drove, the landscape transformed from towering skyscrapers to vast plateaus with few signs of occupancy save a few houses mid construction and the occasional camel crossing the road.
Finally, the truck stopped in what looked like the middle of nowhere. "Please buckle" was all our guideВ Malik said before the SUV, reinforced with steel bars, lurched off the paved road onto the expansive Dubai dunes.В
The next 30 minutes were a harrowing experience as the truck listed left and right, up and down each time tilting farther than the last. We hurled up tall sand peaks and could see nothing but sky, only to careen nose first towards the bottom of the dune. I clutched the handle bar for dear life as my camera bag and water bottle went flying. I was terrified that we would lose balance at any moment and tumble down the dune, though a part of me secretly hoped that we would! As my adrenaline level reached its peak, the truck came to an abrupt stop. I took a moment to catch my breath and gather my personal belongings, then stepped out of the car.
The sun was quickly setting, turning the sand glowing hues of orange and tan that stretched out as far as the eye could see. If it hadn't been for the fellow dune bashers roaming in the distance I would have felt like I had entered my own private oasis. As the cool evening breeze engulfed me, I let out a long deep sigh and felt myself finally relaxing.
I was still taking in the beauty of the moment when Malik summoned me back to the vehicle for round 2! After another wild ride deeper into the desert, we ended up in front of a large, open air tent where we met up with several other tour groups. Inside, there were vendors selling jewelry, perfume, clothing and other souvenirs. Beyond the vendors was a stage surrounded by low tables and oversized pillows on multicolored carpets. I found a cozy spot near the stage; and soon an announcer came on the loud speaker to introduce a beautiful belly dancer clad in a glittering gold ensemble. She twirled around the stage in a blur of beads and bangles as the crowd erupted in cheers. After her performance, it was time to feast on the lavish spread of traditional fare including a variety of salads, hummus, curries, veggies and sizzling kebobs. It hit the spot after an exciting afternoon on the dunes. I gazed up at the stars, sipped on my steaming sweet Arabic tea and relished the moment.
Those looking for adventure and a truly unique travel experience should consider dune bashing in Dubai. Several companies offer a variety of tours from sunset safaris and overnight excursions to ATV dune racing and dune surfing tours.
Sarah Yekinni is a part time attorney and full time traveler who much prefers gazing out an airplane window to sitting in an office. She is the creator of house of wend
, where she shares insights and experiences gained through years of travel in hopes of inspiring others to wend their way...