Desert Safari from Dubai

Dave, in a childlike “its Christmas morning” way, was eager to start the day at 9am. Having gone to bed 6 hours ago, I was not so eager, but I still got up anyways. We didn’t really have any plans, but we both got ready to start the day regardless. The first order of business was reserving the desert safari. That was no problem by way of the concierge, so we decided to explore the grounds of the One&Only. Our safari left at 2:30pm so there wasn’t really enough time to visit the mall or the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world — don’t worry we would end up seeing it later). We started by walking down to our own beach, and then onwards to the neighboring One&Only’s pool. We sat by the pool and enjoyed some drinks and soaked up the sun. The weather was perfect, even a little cool in the shade, but it couldn’t get much better. Peacocks meandered around us as we enjoyed our drinks. Eventually we decided that we had to get real food so we went to the Grill that was right on the beach. The ambiance was extremely refined and classy for a beachside restaurant and we sipped on Evian and both had salads in anticipation of the feast that evening. Everything was delicious and it was great to eat vegetables after all of the veal and sausage we had eaten in Germany yesterday.

Jumeirah "Beach"

After lunch we walked on the beach back to our own hotel and found a cabana with plush lounge chairs (like, 3 inch cushions) looking out over the Gulf. I sat in the sun and Dave in the shade and we set alarms to be sure we didn’t fall asleep and miss our safari. Sure enough we both fell asleep on the beach like that and were awakened by our iphone alarm. We went back to the room and got ready for the desert safari.

The desert safari was the only thing that I wanted to definitely do in Dubai. It cost us 330AED each (nearly $100pp) but was a good value as it included a hotel pickup, driving crazy on the dunes, dinner, entertainment, sheesha and some general good times. We were picked up at 2:30 as promised by our two guides. One was from Iran (Shiraz) and the other was from Delhi. No one is actually from Dubai. We picked up another couple at another hotel (she from Florida, he from Kuwait – how the hell did that happen??) and set out for the desert. Seeing more of Dubai and the surrounding areas was interesting. It is all very built up, and in areas where it wasn’t, it was half-built and construction had probably stopped due to the global recession and bankruptcy of the Emirate.

Two Tahoes from our Desert Safari

40 minutes or so outside of the city, we stopped at the desert entrance to let the air out of our tires a bit before driving on the dunes. Then came the crazy driving. Up and down, sometimes up over “cliffs” where you couldn’t see the other side, bouncing up and down, etc. We got stuck at one point and another Tahoe had to pull us out. It was ok though – it got us some photo ops. We stopped at another place for pictures and drinks, then back into the car for more crazy driving. Eventually we made it to a spot to watch the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful to see the sun set over dunes and we took many photos and kissed as we saw the last bit of light leave the sand. Onwards to the Bedouin camp!!

Dave with a Falcon at the Bedouin Camp

These Bedouins….they have a good thing going. This is actually my 2nd time in a Bedouin camp this year, the first being in February in the Negev in Israel. Bedouins are a nomadic people and set up these crazy camps and have camels and all of the Middle-Eastern things that you’d expect. Drumming, food cooked over a fire…here they had falcons, a belly dancer and shisha, too. We had delicious appetizers of falafel and some chicken shwarma and then decided to play Arab dress up. This involved Dave putting on this long pajama-type “dress” and a scarf like thing on his head, and me wearing a long, black, shapeless dress with the black head and face covering. We then did a photo shoot with our (non-Arab) photographer, doing hilarious things such as Dave standing like he’s this big serious dude, me serving Dave tea while he is laying on the sofa, us smoking shisha, etc. It was absolutely hilarious and I got to feel what it was like to have to wear that clothing (terrible in my opinion). Later we picked out a photo for an unreasonable 100AED. I guess when else would we be able to wear all of that? (2 days later is the answer).

Arab Dress up in a Bedouin Camp

Dinner was pretty good and after that we smoked some sheesha and sat watching the belly dancer. They shut off the lights at one point so that we could see the stars, which was pretty cool. Shortly after that we returned to an SUV and began the trip home. This time we took the short road out, which took 10 minutes as opposed to 2+ hours of dune driving. Dave and I fell asleep and in no time at all were back at the One&Only. We were absolutely exhausted but it was our last night in Dubai so I didn’t want to waste the evening. We had heard about the Rooftop Lounge in the next hotel, The One&Only Arabian Court, and decided to go there. We were offered a shuttle bus, which is just so insane because it is a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Of course we declined, because thats ridiculous, and in no time were walking up candlelit steps to the Rooftop Lounge. The walk alone was phenomenal and once there, nothing disappointed. We sat in a private enclave at sipped on Cuba Libres for an hour or so and just enjoyed the scenery. There was Arab music playing, the weather was warm, and we were in a beautiful atmosphere of candles and plush pillows looking out on the skyline of Dubai. It couldn’t seemingly get any better. Around 1am we headed back to our hotel, a quieter but more glamourous version of the Arabian Court, and went to sleep with no plans in place for tomorrow, which was just perfect.

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