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Ultimate Guide to Abu Dhabi Desert Safaris:
All You Need to Know (2022)

What you need to know about Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Insider Guide 2022

Page last modified: November 2022

What you need to know about Abu Dhabi Desert Safari

The desert played an important role in the UAE's history and continues to do so in its development. This doesn't come as a surprise, given that more than 80% percent of the UAE's landmass is desert. It is undoubtedly a place you should definitely explore when planning a trip to the UAE. Here are some important things you should know before visiting Abu Dhabi and planning for a desert safari.

Is it possible to have fun in the desert?

Whenever we hear the words "desert" we quickly conjure up images of a barren land with a rare oasis that is most probably a mirage combined with eerie silence. Your thoughts and beliefs are going to be challenged with the Abu Dhabi desert safari. Once deemed a no-entry zone, the Abu Dhabi desert has become a popular location for tourists to get to know what the desert looks like, see the way in which the Bedouin people lived here and experience various entertainment options that are popular in the desert. If you are skeptical about having fun in the Abu Dhabi desert, take a chance by booking an Abu Dhabi desert safari, and you won't be disappointed.

Is it possible to have fun in the desert?

What happens in an Abu Dhabi desert safari?

The desert was home to the nomadic people of UAE, the Bedouins. An Abu Dhabi desert safari is an excursion to the desert where you can experience how the Bedouins enjoyed the desert. One of the highlights for adventure lovers is the dune bashing that is done on a 4 wheel drive like land cruiser or hummer for VIP safaris. Travelers have a wonderful time as the vehicle climbs and descends the lofty sand dunes. Depending on the safari you choose you might be taken to a camel farm where you can see these magnificent creatures up close. Some other thrilling activities include quad biking, sandboarding and camel riding. Upon reaching the campsite you will get to experience many types of Emirati entertainment and even enjoy an Emirati meal depending on the safari you have chosen.

Which desert do we visit when going on an Abu Dhabi Desert safari?

The most popular desert names you will hear and visit are the Al Khatim desert, Rub Al Khali or Empty quarter, and the Liwa oasis.

Rub Al Khali or Empty quarter, and the Liwa oasis

What are the different types of desert safari tours available to book?

The desert has varying personalities and you can enjoy whichever you prefer depending on your schedule. You can choose between a sunrise desert safari, evening desert safari and an overnight desert safari.

When is the best time to book an Abu Dhabi desert safari?

The best time depends on what you want. If you are the type who cannot stand high temperatures, then the ideal time to experience a desert safari will be between October and April. Since this is the peak season you will also have to deal with fully-booked slots and crowds. If you can withstand the heat but don't want to deal with crowds then you should visit during the off season (May to September).

What to Wear for Abu Dhabi Desert Safari

What to pack for a desert safari?

The desert climate is different during the day and night. In the daytime the temperatures are high and you will feel the heat. The nights on the other hand are very chilly with no trace of the daytime heat. If you want to properly enjoy the desert safari without the climate disturbing you, here are somethings you should keep in mind:

What to Wear for Abu Dhabi Desert Safari

  • Pack clothes made of lightweight natural fabrics like cotton and linen. (Daytime safaris)
  • Pack thick layering pieces like cardigans or sweaters and a blanket. (Night Safaris)
  • Pack open-toed slippers and sandals to wear. Avoid any sports shoes or closed shoes. This is because the fine sand can get into your shoes and be really annoying.
  • Avoid clothing made from synthetic material.

Tips to keep in mind before going for a desert safari in Abu Dhabi

  • Don't have a heavy meal at least 2 hours before your desert safari to prevent yourself from feeling nauseous during the dune bashing session.
  • Pregnant women are prevented from experiencing dune bashing.
  • Don't overdress or wear tight clothes.
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Don't leave children unattended during dune bashing or in the desert as there are reptiles and poisonous plants.
  • Always follow the safety instructions of your guide.
Abu Dhabi Camel Trekking

What to expect from your desert safari in Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi Morning Desert Safari

Morning or Sunrise desert safari

A perfect time to go on a desert safari because of the cool climate and the serene ambience. If you like to begin your day with a relaxing vibe, the sunrise desert safari is the perfect option because you get to witness a desert sunrise. You can also experience dune bashing, sand boarding and camel rides. This is good for people who can't stand high temperatures because the mornings in the desert are not as hot as the midmornings and afternoons.

Dune Drive Abu Dhabi

Evening desert safari

The evening desert safari starts after noon and ends with a dinner buffet. You can witness a desert sunset with this excursion, explore the thriving Liwa Oasis and get really friendly with the camels at the Liwa Camel farm. The entertainment on offer include dune bashing, camel ride and sandboarding. At camp you will get to experience Bedouin hospitality and Emirati entertainment like belly dancing followed by a delicious BBQ dinner buffet.

Overnight desert safari

Overnight desert safari

Suitable for families, couples, groups and even solo travelers, the overnight desert safari gives you more time to make memories in the desert. Get the chance to sleep under the unpolluted desert sky and wake up to a refreshing desert sunrise. Adventurous activities include dune bashing, sandboarding and camel trekking to name a few. You will also get a unique memento where you have to dress up like Bedouins and pose for a photograph. You will also get to see a live belly dancing performance, smoke a shisha pipe and eat from a BBQ dinner spread. The Bedouin style tents are well equipped for a comfortable night in the desert.

Price List for Tour (AED and USD)

The rates mentioned below are just an estimate. The exact price may vary from operator to operator.

How much does a Desert Safari cost in Abu Dhabi?

Budget Safari Tours Adult Child
Evening Safari by bus 90 AED / 24 USD 70 AED / 20 USD
Driving to camp directly - Shows & Dinner 70 AED / 20 USD 50 AED / 13 USD
Standard Tours Adult Child
Standard evening safari - 4x4 190 AED / 52 USD 150 AED / 40 USD
Standard morning safari - 4x4 150 AED / 40 USD 120 AED / 32 USD
Standard overnight safari - 4x4 350 AED / 95 USD 300 AED / 81 USD
Standard camel trekking - 4x4 270 AED / 74 USD 220 AED / 54 USD
Standard ATV (Quad bike) tour 350 AED / 95 USD 300 AED / 81 USD
Standard Desert Safari without Dune Bashing - 4x4 190 AED / 52 USD 150 AED / 40 USD

Tour Operators and Desert Camps in Abu Dhabi

The desert safari company you choose and the camp where they hold their safari experience will have a complete impact on the quality of your experience. While more experienced operators will run their safaris from their own camps in the desert, newbie operators will do so from another operator's campsite. Look through this list of desert camps in Abu Dhabi, online tour providers offering desert safari tours, and destination management organizations providing desert safari experiences.

Online tour operators DMC operating 4x4 tours Desert Camps in Abu Dhabi
Viator Emirates tours and safaris Emirates Tours Camp – Traditional camp
Trip Advisor Experience Desert Rose Tourism LLC  Al Badeyah Eyes Tourism
Groupon Ocean Air Abu Dhabi Desert Gate Tourism
Cobone Extreme Tourism LLC Desert Rose Bedouin Desert Camp
GetYourGuide Capital Experience Arabian Nights Village
Yella Banana Rayna Tours Off Road Adventure Tours

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Map

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Map

Inclusions of Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Packages

Round transfers

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari includes pick-up and drop-offs from and to Hotels and Malls in Abu Dhabi

Dune Bashing in 4x4 SUV Land Cruiser

Climb the dunes by a 4WD jeep - Travellers will be touring in a fully insured and fully-equipped off-road vehicle accompanied by a professional driver to ensure maximum safety.

Camel Ride

Enjoy a short camel ride as you pass the sand-stretched floors of Abu Dhabi.

Sandboarding

Fasten your feet to the board and slide over sand

Sunset Photography

Get the maximum out of this golden opportunity to capture the stunning sunset moments in the desert.

Refreshment & Drinks

Ease yourself with a cup of hot tea, coffee, soft drinks and bottled water at the Bedouin camp.

Campsite BBQ / Dinner Buffet

Free BBQ dinner buffet inclusive of vegetarian & non-vegetarian food options and traditional sweets.

Henna Tattoo

Free Henna design by a professional Mehendi artist (single hand)

Belly Dance and Tanoura Dance

Live performance of traditional Arabic belly dance and Tanoura

Photography

Capture the stunning sunset / Dress up in Arabic outfits & take pictures

Quad Bike Tour

Climb up on a quad bike and ride over the dunes

VIP Services

Special attention to VIP reservations. No more long waiting times or queues; just unwind and enjoy our table service.

Falcon Photoshoot

Pose for a photo with a falcon perched on your forearm.

Bathroom Amenities

Separate restrooms for men and women at the campsite

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Insider Guide By Local Guides

Sunset timing

Sunset timings are subject to change on a daily basis so confirm the sunset timing for the day before going on your sunset safari.

Desert Safari without dune bashing

Certain people, like the elderly, pregnant mothers, people with heart ailments, etc, might want to omit the dune bashing activity from their experience. Fortunately, all desert tour companies in Abu Dhabi let you skip dune-bashing for a more pleasant experience.

Desert rains and sandstorms

There is only a 5% chance that torrential rain will force an Abu Dhabi desert safari to be canceled as rain is a very uncommon occurrence in the desert of Abu Dhabi. However, there is a chance of encountering sandstorms that are unfavorable to off-roading activities, in which case the tour companies will reschedule your safari excursion.

Riding a camel

Most desert safaris only allow guests to ride a camel for about three to five minutes. After your picture has been taken, you must make way for the next person in line, especially during peak season. Beware of desert safaris that include camel rides on their itineraries. It is a camel sitting and photo opportunity, not a camel ride. Many websites claim to offer desert safaris with camel rides, but they lack the courage to be honest with their visitors.Plan ahead and reserve a camel trek if you want to take a leisurely ride through the desert. Now that you can actually ride a camel, you can carry the experience and that photo around with you.

Dinner buffet

Similar to camel rides, there will be another line for the BBQ dinner. When you see a safari price for a cheap rate, you can probably guess how long the line will be and what kind of food you'll get. If you want resort-quality food, always look for a premium tour. If you choose a standard tour, expect the standard quality of the food. The majority of tours, even premium tours, offer buffet meals, but you have to wait in line to get them. You must reserve a private dune dinner experience if you're looking for something more deluxe and private.

Cancellation policy

Most tour companies offer a 24-hour cancellation policy, but some premium experiences do not allow any cancellation. Carefully read your voucher to know about the cancellation policy.

Free overnight desert stays

There aren't many places in the Abu Dhabi desert that are declared as camping spots. Camping in Al Khatim is not prohibited but you can do that at your own risk. Refrain from making any plans based on online articles because the majority of them publish fake information. If you want to reduce the cost and dont want to book an overnight desert safari tour, it is preferable to negotiate a deal with the local tour operator and make a deal nearby their camp to do a desert stay.

Picture perfect locations

Click Instagram Worthy Photos

If you enjoy documenting your vacations and love to spruce up your Instagram feed with gorgeous photos, our list of places for that picturesque shot will prove helpful to you. The desert is picturesque in itself, but if you want more than the stark contrast of gold and blue, keep reading.

Best instances and locations for mind blowing pictures

  • The tallest sand dune in the world, Tel Moreeb in the Liwa desert
  • Tall mega dunes in the Al Khatim desert
  • When riding a camel
  • With a falcon perched on your arm during a falconry demonstration
  • During belly dancing
  • At the time of sandboarding

Insurance and Safety Policies

When choosing a desert safari provider, bear the following in mind:

  • All companies offering desert safaris obtain third-party liability insurance, and rollover protection of their vehicles. This is a necessary precaution, particularly when driving over dunes because the 4x4 may topple over due to the dunes' steepness. Numerous serious vehicle roll-over accidents have resulted in serious injuries to guests with occasional fatalities.
  • The more established the desert safari company, the more consideration they will show for their customers.
  • When booking the Abu Dhabi desert safari, be sure to enquire about their safety policies and procedures. Then, book your safari with a company that has a strong set of safety guidelines.
  • Keep an eye on the car's condition even after you meet the guide. Ask your tour guide if it is rollover protected if it appears to be in good condition. Accidents may occur occasionally, even when all safety precautions are taken. Call your operator if you believe your safari guide is not as skilled as you believe he needs to be to traverse the dunes.

Planning to Take Souvenirs from
Abu Dhabi Desert?

Traditional camps, where Standard Safaris are held, have stores that might be a good place to consider buying souvenirs. The beauty and intrigue of Abu Dhabi's Arabian heritage are reflected in ornate wooden carvings, regional art, gold jewelry, and carpets. Souvenirs come in all sizes and shapes, from the smallest silver pillbox to the largest hand-woven carpet, and are frequently cheaper in Abu Dhabi than they would be elsewhere. The key is to steer clear of tourist traps and know where to find genuine goods that you will cherish for a lifetime. Prices in desert shops may also be higher than those in cities like The Mall Souq or the Iranian market Abu Dhabi.

Souvenirs from Abu Dhabi Desert

Animals Encountered at Al Khatim Desert

There is an abundance of wildlife in the desert, but we aren't observant enough to see every lizard that creeps by. Undoubtedly while exploring the Al Khatim desert in Abu Dhabi you will see many desert animals.

Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers

This depends on what type of desert safari you choose. If you are going on a shared safari that is operated by bus then the cost will be less. However, don't expect much quality from shared desert safaris. Premium and private desert safaris are a bit more costly but provide a good quality experience.
To feel comfortable in a morning or afternoon desert safari we highly advise men and women to wear loose clothes made of linen or cotton. If you have booked a sunrise, evening or overnight safari then take along a jacket or cardigan to wear when feeling cold. Make sure to wear open-toed footwear like sandals or flip flops. Don't wear sports shoes or socks as the fine sand can get into your shoe and be a real bother.
Al Khatim Desert is a desert on the way from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain. Al Khatim Desert is an ideal spot for off-road riding excursions.
Dune bashing is a type of off-roading that takes place on sand dunes and is mainly done in large 4WD cars such as the Toyota Land Cruiser or Fortuner. It requires driving at various speeds across sand dunes and manoeuvring the car in such a way that it maintains balance while ascending and descending the dune.
  • Avoid eating anything heavy before the desert safari because the dune bashing can make you feel nauseous. If you are eating anything, eat at least 2 hours before your experience.
  • Wear clothes that are both comfortable and appropriate. It's fine to wear shorts, t-shirts, or lightweight tops. Extra shawls or jackets can be brought in case the weather cools down at night.
  • It is better to wear open shoes, flip flops, or sandals because you will have the option to wander in the dunes. Sand can get into your shoes in a variety of ways.
  • Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
  • Bring a camera or a video camera to record the thrill of the adventure and the desert's spellbinding splendour.
Yes, you can but make sure to mention this to your desert safari provider at the time of booking. You can choose the safari that suits your schedule best.
The drive takes roughly 1 hour from Abu Dhabi to the desert.
Yes, pick up and drop off is done by 4 wheel drives like land cruisers. You will be picked up from your hotel or any other Abu Dhabi location and dropped off in a place of your choice.
This entirely depends on your schedule and how eager you are to explore the desert. If you don't have much time to spare, an evening or morning safari will be suitable. Otherwise choose the overnight safari.