Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review

I knew I couldn’t go to the United Arab Emirates without going on a Desert Safari – it’s one of the most raved about activities they offer. After taking a look at various tour providers on TripAdvisor, many were in the $100 USD per person range for a half-day evening safari adventure.

Enter Groupon, but for the UAE! I had never used an international Groupon before to save on activities while traveling, but it turned out to be quite beneficial in this instance. To my surprise, there were a ton of half-day desert safari deals on UAE Groupon, each through a different tour provider. After reading through TripAdvisor reviews, we chose to go with the Desert Rose Tourism Groupon offering. For four people, this tour would usually price out at $380 USD (AED 1,400), but using the Groupon deal, we were able to purchase it for only $173 USD (AED 635). That equates to $43 USD per person – what a steal!

What the Half Day Desert Safari tour was offering:

– Transfers to and from a central meeting point in Abu Dhabi to the tour location
– Dune Bashing
– Camel Riding
– Sand Boarding
– Arabic BBQ Dinner Buffet (cash bar provided)
– Belly Dancing Entertainment
– Shisha Smoking
– Henna Tattooing
– Picture taking in traditional UAE dress

Let me tell you – this was the highlight of our entire visit to the UAE. I’ve never had so much fun through a tour-booked activity before.

GETTING THERE

After purchasing the Groupon voucher, we emailed Desert Rose Tourism directly to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance of our arrival. Through our email communications, they notified us of pick up time and location. The meeting point was the main entrance of the Khalidiyah Mall which was a convenient and central location within Abu Dhabi. It was a short Uber ride from our hotel which made this extra easy.  A guy with a white van was waiting out front of the mall. The van had no tour logo on it, which made it a little hard to distinguish, but when we approached him, he had our name on a list and we were set.

Now, the ride in the van is long and quite uneventful. From memory, it took a good 1.5 hours to reach the desert destination and towards the end of the drive, we were getting quite restless. What was to come though, made it all worth while!

DUNE BASHING

The van literally pulls to the side of the road in the middle of no where. You are surrounded by nothing but desert for miles and miles. We exit the van and our party is directed to our own private Toyota Land Cruiser, complete with a roll cage. We take a funny photo holding onto the roll cage, but really, we have no idea what we are in for!

Desert Rose Tourism Safari

A line of Land Cruisers follow behind one another, zipping over sand hills and dipping into ditches. My heart starts racing. I’m not sure if I should be laughing or screaming. A simultaneous rush of excitement and nervousness creeps in. Our driver is thrashing our Land Cruiser all over the place, and at one point, I think I speak for all four of us when I say we were convinced this was going to be the end of our lives.

We held on and screamed. Screaming turned to cursing. Cursing turned to laughter. This was way too much fun. At any one second, our vehicle could flip, but we didn’t care. We were basking in the moment of living life on the edge (of a sand mound). No one photo or video can do this experience justice, but kudos to our driver who remained in control of our vehicle at all times, despite my random adrenalin-infused, expletive outbursts. What a thrill!

.
Dune Bashing with Desert Rose Tourism
.
Desert Rose Tourism UAE
.Dune Bashing with Desert Rose Tourism

A video posted by Lynda Galea (@lynnie11) on

CAMEL RIDING

After our hearts had stopped thumping out of our chests from dune bashing, we were dropped off at our dinner location in the middle of the desert. By this time, the sun had started to set and made for a spectacular backdrop.

Sunset in the UAE desert

Sunset in the UAE desert

It is here that we were greeted by a camel which we decided to name Amanda. Amanda was probably the coolest camel you’ve ever met. Why? Well, how many other camels do you know that pose for a selfie!? So glad I had my phone on me to capture this moment!

Camel Selfie!

We also got to take turns riding Amanda. It proved a little challenging to get on Amanda’s back, mainly because my pant seem wouldn’t allow for me to stretch my leg up as high as it needed to go, but I eventually figured it out without ripping them – skills! It wasn’t until the camel guide told Amanda to stand up that I started to panic. Camels first raise their back two legs to stand up while their front two legs are still kneeling on the ground. You get the sudden feeling that you are about to go ass-over-head and face-plant into the sand. It was no easy feat, but I took those humps like a champ. Amanda and I rode off into the sunset together, newfound BFFs.

Riding a camel in the UAE

Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review

Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review

DINNER

The dinner location was truly something special. There was a belly dancing area carpeted off with low-sitting tables and cushions surrounding the outsides of the circular dance floor. We removed our shoes and ran our toes through the soft, powder-like sand before finding ourselves a table to dine at. No chairs here, you sit on top of a cushion on the sand – quite fun and romantic, actually.

Desert Rose Tourism UAE

Desert Rose Tourism UAE

Desert Rose Tourism UAE

There was an opportunity to have your photo taken a falcon – the UAE’s national bird, and sand boarding available if you had the energy to climb up the insanely high sand hill. I chose to opt out, but the boys made it to the top. They failed miserably at mastering the art of sand boarding though.

Desert Rose Tourism UAE
Desert Rose Tourism UAE

Desert Rose Tourism UAE

{View from the top of the sand boarding hill courtesy of Larry}

Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review

Dinner was buffet style – BBQ chicken and beef shish kebabs, salad, rice, pita bread, hummus and some sort of cold pasta that I wasn’t a fan of. I filled up on meats, bread and hummus – that was enough to keep me happy. Soda and bottled water was complimentary, and alcoholic beverages were available at a cash bar set up by the buffet.

There are shack-like bathrooms available at the dinner site which we did use once – the upkeep on these was better than expected for being in the middle of no where.

BELLY DANCING

The nights entertainment took a turn for the better when the belly dancer came over to our table and encouraged Larry to get up on stage with her and dance. It truly was a phenomenal sight. This video is sure to #breaktheinternet. Larry’s moves are just so sexual. Haha.

SHISHA SMOKING

Before Abu Dhabi, I had never smoked shisha before, but during our six days there, it quickly became one of my favorite things to do. After dinner, some of the tour guides prepared the water pipes and encouraged us to head over and try them out. They gave us fresh, sealed mouth pieces to stick into our pipe and then loaded us up with flavored shisha. Crystal and I sat there in the dark smoking our shisha and having a fun chat.

GETTING HOME

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end, but I really wish this evening could have went on forever. We had so much fun that we were tempted to book in dune bashing again the very next day! After the nights events are over, the guides loaded everyone up again into a Land Cruiser and shuttled us over to the van that was waiting to take us back to the Khalidiyah Mall meeting spot from earlier that day. The ride back felt much shorter than the ride up. Since the mall is situated in such a central location within Abu Dhabi, we had no problems hailing down a cab from the front of the mall to take us back to our hotel.

.

If you are in the UAE, do yourself a favor and be sure to book yourself in on a desert safari tour – it was honestly the most fun we had in our entire time there! Most of the tour providers all seem to have similar offerings so check on UAE Groupon first to see if you can score yourself a deal and save yourself some money – because who doesn’t like saving $$?!

Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review
Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review
Desert Rose Tourism Safari Review

?>