How they lived in days of yore
Gazing out at the skyscraper-laden city skyline from a lofty perch, it can be easy to forget Dubai’s humble beginnings. However, you can reconnect with the past by taking a camel ride to a Bedouin village where you’ll be given the warmest of welcomes before being treated to a falconry display. The Bedouins will then give a tour of their desert dwellings and talk you through their daily life. They’ll then show you how to make a proper cuppa and feast fit for a king, along with other intriguing activities. Please don’t ask for the wi-fi password.
From Dhs395 (adults), Dhs295 (children). Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, bedouinexperience.com.
Conquer the sands
If you’ve ever seen those Top Gear episodes where Jeremy Clarkson and co. ritually abused a Toyota HiLux you’ll know exactly how much of pounding this absolute beast of a truck can take. That’s why it’s perfect for dune bashing, one of our favourite desert pastimes. You’ll be picked up from your Dubai base and transported to a thrill-a-minute world where gravity is defied and hearts set a racing. This is a must-try for any visitor to the emirate.
Dhs150 (adults), Dhs130 (children). Times vary. desertsafaridubai.co.
For those tyre-d of regular cycling
In years gone by, the thought of trying to tackle the desert on two wheels was purely the domain of madmen. But some bright spark came up with the idea of fitting e-bikes with oversized tyres that will make short work of those demanding dunes. The Bab Al Shams resort offers one of the best tours. When we first heard of ‘fat biking’ we had visions of it being an event in an overweight Olympics, but this isn’t some sick joke – it’s a great workout and a whole load of fun at the same time.
Dhs210. Daily 8am-5pm. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Al Qudra Road, babalshams.com.
Luxury in the wilderness
Now, we’re not entirely sure what our Bedouin friends would have made of the Starlight Camp. This super-secretive pop-up spot comes equipped with a gorgeous crystal-roof tent, fully stocked food and drink trailer, charging sockets for your phones and other gadgets you can’t live without, a bluetooth speaker for you to pump out some banging (or romantic) tunes and even a Nespresso coffee machine.
From Dhs1,940 per tent, per night. At a secret location near Dubai, starlight-camp.com
HOT AIR BALLOONING
See the sand from the skies
If you’re both an early riser and high flyer, this is perfect for you. Arguably the most thrilling way to witness an Arabian sunrise, a trip up, up and away with Balloon Adventures Dubai will take you to heights of 4,000ft. The wildlife of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve below will look like mere dots on the landscape and apart from the sound of the propane burning, it’s wonderfully serene up there...
Dhs1,195 (adults), Dhs1,045 (kids aged five-11). Pick up from 4am across Dubai. ballooning.ae.
Big thrills on four wheels
These things are great fun on normal terrain but in the desert, they’re simply something else. Well imagine no more, because after a quick crash course (we’ve always found that an odd phrase) you’ll be speeding across the sand in no time. You could join a tour guide as a passenger but where’s the fun in that? Buckle up, boys and girls.
From Dhs252. Pick up from across Dubai, arabian-adventures.com.
The cool kids’ choice
We were slightly disconcerted when telling a younger colleague about Tony Hawk’s love of sandboarding only to find they’d never heard of the skating legend. Shame on them, and shame on you if you don’t give this super-cool sport that’s like snowboarding on the sand a whirl on your Dubai sojourn. The red dunes are where the gnarliest action can be found. Yes, we did use the word ‘gnarliest’. No, we’re not cool any more.
From Dhs70. oscarknighttours.com.
7 amazing adrenaline adventures in Dubai
Dune bashing, hot air ballooning and more
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