If you’re in Dubai over a weekend and looking for something to do, I recommend Dune Bashing.
All the major hotels can arrange a Dune Bashing trip for you and there are travel agencies who will do the same. You can also book online – just Google ‘dune bashing in Dubai’.
There are generally 3 dune bashing tour options:
- A morning tour (usually 8:30 – 11:30AM or similar)
- An evening tour (3:30PM to 10:30PM – this is the one I took)
- An overnight safari (around 4:00PM to 9:00AM the next morning)
There are other tours and activities available as well – a tour to Oman is on my list for the next time I’m in Dubai.
On each of the dune bashing tours you are picked up in a 4 x 4 Land Cruiser. You head out into the desert to drive up and down sand dunes, enjoy the desert landscape and (in the case of the Evening and overnight tours) watch a show and have dinner at an Arab desert camp.
Dune bashing is a very popular local sport and, when you get to the desert areas, you’ll see all manner of vehicles, modified specially for the dunes, being prepared for the fun:
There are dangers of course, given that you’re haring up and down dunes, sometimes at steep angles and at speed. But the vehicles are protected with roll bars, and the passengers have to wear safety harnesses.
Plus the drivers have to be specially licenced.
When we got close to the dune bashing area, we stopped at a local convenience store to buy water. The driver prepared our vehicle by reducing the tire pressures, which improves traction in the sand.
Then we mounted up and crossed the main road into the area from where the tour starts. If you’re in to wide open expanses there is little to beat the desert (other than its opposite – the ocean!):
Before we set off the driver made sure we were all securely belted in, and then we were on our way:
I had not been in a Land Cruiser in those conditions before and I was impressed.
There were 8 of us in the vehicle (the driver plus 7) and we were hitting outrageous angles, often at speed in order to avoid bogging down.
Yet the vehicle remained completely stable.
After 15-20 minutes or so we came to a level area where we stopped, giving both the Land Cruiser and its passengers a breathing space – we got out and stretched our legs and the Land Cruiser’s engine was topped up with water:
Having left Jumeirah Beach at around 3:30 or 4:00, by this time the late afternoon was wearing on and the desert started to take on a different colour:
And, finally, we got to see a desert sunset:
From there, we moved on to the last part of the tour: a show and an evening meal at an Arab desert camp.
The show was good (traditional Arab dancing, belly dancing, etc.), and the food was OK – but not great.
There was also the opportunity to have a ride on a camel but I passed on that. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not a fan of animals being kept in captivity, in poor conditions, purely for the pleasure of humans.
With dinner and the show over, we piled back into the Land Cruisers and headed back to the city – tired but happy.
The cost is between US$35 and US$80, depending on the tour you take – and it’s a great break from the city. I was in Dubai for work (about 4 months on that trip) and it was great to get out into the desert.
Have you been dune bashing? How did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments!
The Expat Traveller