Dubai Desert Safari Guide

Dubai is a striking contrast of towering skyscrapers backdropped by golden desert dunes. Whether you’re a repeat traveller or first time visitor to this multifaceted destination, we recommend exploring beyond the city sights – and what better way to do so than on a desert safari?


Get your heart racing as you drive up and down the dunes, watch the sun blend into the dunes as it sets for the day and sit around a crackling campfire while being entertained by traditional Arabic performances.


Find out more about these unique desert experiences and thrilling adventures with our Dubai desert safari guide. 


What to consider when booking a desert safari

Regardless of which type of safari you decide to go on, there are three key things to consider before booking your excursion. 


1. Your choice of destination 

There are a number of popular desert destinations surrounding Dubai city, including Lahbab, the Hatta Mountains and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Most organised tours will pick you up and drop off at your hotel, meaning you don’t have to think about the logistics of getting into the desert.


2. The kind of activity you'd like to do 

From quad biking and sandboarding to camel rides, you’ll be given the opportunity to take part in many desert activities on your safari. If any of the activities are new to you, you’ll be given expert instruction before trying them out for yourself.


3. Whether food is provided 

We’re sure that after all that adrenaline-fueled fun you'll have worked up an appetite. As part of the package, most desert safaris include an evening meal of traditional Arabian dishes at a camp set amid the dunes. This is typically accompanied by entertainment from belly dancing to whirling dervishes.

The best adventure activities on a desert safari

Hold on tight and get your thrills with these adrenaline-inducing activities on your Dubai desert safari. We recommend booking the following excursions in advance to guarantee a spot – you can usually do this online or at the reception desk of your hotel.


Dune buggy ride

Strap on your helmet and get ready for a bumpy ride! After being picked up from the city and taken into the desert, you’ll follow an expert guide through the dunes in your dune buggy. There are no road signs, few rules and no enforced speed limits, giving you the opportunity to really zip through the vast desert. An alternative option to dune buggies, is quad biking, which provides a similar experience.Either way, you don’t need to have previous experience as you’ll be given expert instruction by a professional. 


Dune bashing

For thrill-seekers only, this is off-road driving like you’ve never experienced before and definitely not for the faint hearted! Hitting the dunes, a confident, professional driver will be manoeuvring the car sideways, upwards and downwards in a manner that feels far from normal during this white-knuckle ride.



Slide down the desert dunes on a sandboard, an activity that can be considered as a mix of surfing and snowboarding. While it can take time to get your balance and learn how to stay upright on the wooden board, this is a lot of fun – plus you’ll get the most incredible view of the desert from the top of the dunes.

The best relaxing activities on a desert safari in Dubai 

We know that not everyone is an adrenaline junkie, and so we’ve rounded up the best desert safari experiences that operate at a much gentler pace. Because sometimes, you just want to take things slow…



Is there anything more relaxing than laying down in the middle of the boundless desert, looking up at the night sky? Away from the city, light pollution is much reduced, providing the perfect opportunity for stargazing. And while this is an activity for all, we think it’s one of the more romantic ways to experience the majesty of the desert – making it perfect for couples.


Camel rides

Camel rides are one of the more traditional desert safari activities and are suitable for most ages. You’ll want to hold on tight though it’s a bumpy ride! Camels are very well treated in the UAE, with owners priding themselves on how well they care for these humped creatures. 


Hot air balloon

For unbeatable views of the desert, take to the air on a hot air balloon ride. Our favourite time of day for this stunning activity is at dawn when the orange glow of the rising sun illuminates the golden sands below.  Hot air balloon rides usually last around an hour, giving you plenty of time to get the perfect picture for Instagram!

Resorts in Dubai offering desert safaris and sandy adventures 

To really immerse yourself in the desert experience, we suggest spending a few nights at one of the deserts resorts, just outside of Dubai city. Here, we have featured a couple of our favourites: 


Desert adventures at Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

An exclusive oasis just 45 minutes from Dubai, Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa sets within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, surrounded by rolling sand dunes and is the perfect location for honeymooners seeking a romantic hideaway. Desert experiences include heading out on foot with an experienced guide, jumping in the passenger seat of a jeep, getting up close to local wildlife or hopping in the saddle for a horse riding trek through the dunes.


Go off-road with an experience from Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa 

Put yourself in the expert hands of an experienced driver on an exclusive 4X4 dune bashing ride – just one of the desert adventures on offers at the enchanting Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. On this off-road journey keep your eyes peeled for Arabian Onyx and desert gazelle sprinting by. Want to put yourself in the driving seat? Opt for fat bike riding – a pedal bike with extra-wide wheels allowing you to easily navigate the dunes – and explore the sandy stretches at your own pace. 


Start planning your holiday to the capital of the UAE with our selection of stunning luxury resorts in Dubai. Hand-selected by our travel experts, these hotels offer premium facilities and private beaches at a more affordable price.