Which is the best desert safari in the UAE?

Until a few years ago, the city of Dubai was all desert since the urban core was located only in Bur Dubai (the old Dubai) and Deira. It was not a desert of dunes but a vast rocky plain just in front of the sea.

To get to the Dubai desert, or at least the dune area, you have to drive half an hour from the city of Dubai. In addition, to travel through the dunes, which is one of the best moments of a Dubai desert safari, a four × four car and extreme driving skills are required. That is why the most appropriate thing is to stop making inventions and hire a safari-type tour through the desert of Dubai.

While the appeal of spending a few hours out in the middle of the UAE desert rarely gets old (the fantastic views, the at-one-with-nature, blow-the-cobwebs-away vibes, the Insta-gold that is sunset), not all desert safaris are created equal. Read on for our guide to some of the UAE’s best desert safaris.

Whether you’re living or staying in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah or any of the seven emirates, these are the UAE desert safaris for your wish list. Discover Bedouin culture, explore the Empty Quarter and hold on tight for some serious dune bashing.


Abu Dhabi Desert Tour:

Both the evening and sunrise desert safari tours put on by this well-established company feature a visit to a nearby camel farm and the opportunity to get up close to said camels, as well as all the usual safari activities (dune bashing, sand boarding and the like). The evening option includes a BBQ dinner, shisha, henna painting and live entertainment. Prices are competitive, particularly if you opt to be transported to the meet site by bus rather than private 4×4.

Capital Gate Tourism:

For a desert safari experience, a little less ordinary, the guided camel trekking tours run by Capital Gate are an excellent shout; as you navigate the vast sandy plains, you’ll learn all about Bedouin history and culture.

Half-day or overnight tours, meanwhile, tick all the boxes you’d expect (dipping and diving over rolling dunes in a 4×4 cruiser, sand skiing, belly dancing show and Arabic BBQ dinner buffet). Plump for the quad biking add-on if you want to up the thrill factor further.

Emirates Tours & Safari LLC:

You’re in experienced hands here; Emirates Tours & Safari LLC runs a range of safari-based tours from their Abu Dhabi base and has a solid reputation for doing well.

Their round-trip evening safaris are popular, but the overnight Liwa Desert Safari option could appeal if you fancy something a bit different. After a pitstop at Emirates National Auto Museum, you’ll mosey out towards the Empty Quarter and, from there on, in its desert isolation, dune bashing, sandboarding, star gazing, and campsite fun.


Arabian Adventures Desert Safari:

The go-to company for many when booking a desert safari. Tours include morning and evening desert tours and the option to skip the dune bashing entirely and make straight for the Bedouin-tent barbecue and live entertainment experience (ideal for families with young children or older visitors). Fancy extending your desert stay, sleeping under the stars and watching the sunrise while enjoying a camp breakfast? They can organise that too.

Platinum Heritage:

As the name suggests, Platinum Heritage’s desert safaris take the traditional experience up a notch or two. Instead, treat yourself to their signature Platinum Heritage Package (billed as ‘Dubai’s most luxurious desert safari’), and you’ll do your desert exploring from the comfort of a top-of-the-class Range Rover accompanied by your private conservation guide. After that, you’ll watch the sunset and take in an impressive falconry show while enjoying canapes and sparkling juice before tucking into a six-course Emirati-inspired meal.

Platinum Heritage prides itself on its eco-tourism credentials and commitment to sustainability; the camp is entirely solar-powered, and educating visitors about local culture and heritage is prioritised. As a result, they deliberately avoid potentially damaging-to-the-environment dune bashing.

Sand Trax Tours:

Similar to the plan of a safari desert but feeling apprehensive about letting someone else drive? Fear not. Sand Trax Tours has a Buggy Safari option whereby you can be the master of your destiny and captain of your own 800cc twin-seater desert buggy, complete with roll cage, bucket seats and safety harnesses. As usual, the trip culminates with a barbeque dinner, belly dancing and a whirling dervish that past visitors rave about.


By Arslan Shah

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