A walk in the Dubai desert

A trip to Dubai guarantees a mix of authenticity and modernity. So when the mood strikes, leave the skyscrapers behind and make way for the dunes of the desert, less than an hour from the city. With its distinctive red sand and unique colours, the Dubai desert is a playground for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Although it is less well known than the Sahara desert, it represents a considerable cultural heritage for the city of the United Arab Emirates. Once inhabited by Bedouins, the desert is now a tourist destination where you can enjoy all kinds of activities, including quad biking, a 4x4 safari in the dunes, or an unforgettable evening in a reconstructed Bedouin camp. On your way, keep your eyes peeled for animals such as Arabian oryx, gecko and gazelle.

The Dubai desert

The Dubai desert

- © Joseph Oropel / Shutterstock

Why go there?

The dunes are the perfect place for a whole host of activities, including sand skiing, buggies and safaris. The latter is undoubtedly one of the must-do activities in Dubai. After speeding up and down the dunes in a 4x4, the driver will stop off at the best spots in the desert to let you take your best photos and admire the desert's flora and fauna. The buggy experience is even more exhilarating, as you will feel the hot air and sand as you skid through the dunes. Take something to protect yourself from the wind. The excursion lasts around twenty minutes.

© Sabino Parente / Shutterstock

Experience a typical desert atmosphere

Head to a Bedouin village to discover a typical desert atmosphere. Around a festive and warm dinner, shows are organised for tourists wishing to spend a few memorable hours or extend the experience by sleeping in the middle of the desert, in a Bedouin camp combining modern comfort with an authentic feel: stone furniture, large carpets, campfire under the stars. On the programme: oriental dance show, fire-eaters, henna tattooing, camel ride, barbecue buffet. A cultural and culinary experience to match!

Admire nature and spot desert animals

The Dubai Desert Nature Reserve covers more than 225 km². This protected area is home to a variety of plant and animal species. On the road through the dunes, you can spot gazelles and antelopes roaming freely, as well as the famous Arabian oryx. You may also come across reptiles such as spiny-tailed lizards and geckos. The fauna and flora have adapted to this arid environment, to the extent that to find water, some trees have roots that reach over 200 m deep. An impressive sight!

Flying over the desert in a hot-air balloon

What better way to discover the desert than from a great height? In Dubai, hot-air balloon flights are organised for tourists wishing to fly gently over the dunes. From a bird's eye view, the landscapes are different from those seen from a car or camel. The vastness and immensity of the desert is striking, and the waves of red sand that are the dunes are just as impressive. The best time to go is in the morning to admire the sunrise and be dazzled by the unique colours of the desert. You'll also be able to see the city of Dubai and its skyline on the horizon. There are several types of excursion, so you can choose to take part in a wide range of activities after the hot-air balloon flight, or enjoy a falcon show on arrival.

Vol en montgolfière dans le désert de Dubaï

Vol en montgolfière dans le désert de Dubaï

- © Gareth Lowndes/Shutterstock

Practical information

🚌 Getting there: the desert is less than an hour from the city. You can get there by car on your own, but it's best to be accompanied by a guide. When booking an excursion or activity in the desert, such as a night in a camp or a safari, the transfer from your hotel to the desert is included in the package, so this is the best option.

👉 Best period: with an arid subtropical climate, Dubai is divided into two seasons: summer (April to October) and winter (November to March). But be warned: winter is not the same as in France. In Dubai, it's hot all year round, with temperatures barely dipping below 20 degrees. During the months of June to September, it can be between 40 and 50 degrees. If you can't stand the heat, we recommend the period from November to March or April.

👛 Prices: Excursion prices vary. For example, you can expect to pay over €300 for a hot-air balloon ride, around €100 for a buggy ride, between €50 and €80 for a quad bike excursion and from €40 for a camel ride. So there's something for every budget.

👉 Booking: the best thing to do is book your activities in advance on an online site, or ask at your hotel. Transfers from the hotel to the desert are usually included in your excursion.

Editor's tip

For desert safaris, remember to take a scarf to protect yourself from the sand.

by Editorial Team
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