One of the best side trips we did was the desert safari in Dubai.  Organised by our hotel, The Atlantis,, we were picked up and taken out of the city to a location where we met the other members of the tour. After wearing ourselves out at the water park and enjoying lots of Dubai’s famed urban fun, we were ready to see the wide open spaces of the desert.

We were bundled into Toyota 4×4’s for some serious dune bashing by the tour group. The children throughly enjoyed the roller coaster ride.  I just prayed that the driver would get us to our destination in one piece and without overturning.  Just in case, you think I’m over-reacting, you can see YouTube clips of dune bashing accidents (which I convinced myself were not trained drivers of high-end tours).

driving in the desert

After a stomach-churning 30 minutes, we eventually got to the campsite in the desert.  There were camel rides on offer.

camel ride

My children though really liked playing in the sand. I know some of these safaris offer sand surfing if you want organised fun.  My children, however, had a blast running up and down the dunes, making sand angels and playing in what amounted to them as a giant sandbox.

The sunset in the desert was stunning.  All oranges and golds reflected back on the yellow sand.

sunset on the sand

We all enjoyed the dinner offered at the campsite, a traditional meal of grilled meats, which even my fussy-eater liked.  We lazed about in the heat which had mellowed a bit with the evening sun.

I think there was shisha on offer but nobody in my family tried it.  The evenings entertainment concluded with a belly dancer.  She was definitely energetic! And could shake it, shake it, like she’s supposed to do. Even my 8 year old sun took notice!

belly dancer

We really appreciated getting away from the urban environment of Dubai.  The desert just stretches endlessly in front of you even though we were not very far from the city.  I can’t even imagine living in such an inhospitable environment like the Bedouins traditionally did. The fact that an entire city sprang from the desert in a matter of mere decades is just as astounding.

We stayed at the Atlantis Resort in the Palm Island. The rooms are traditionally decorated (think lots of opulent gold leaf and carved wood). My kids loved being next door to the Atlantis water park into which they could nip in and out as they pleased. I enjoyed to spend short bursts of time at the water park because we could convince them to leave knowing they could come back.

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for Atlantis, The Palm Dubai

Have you ever been to a desert environment?  What did you think?