Red Dune Bashing in the Desert of Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Travel Blog / United Arab Emirates
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Travelling to a new destination for the first time you’ll always be confronted with some must do activities to tick off from your bucket list. From visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to Hot Air Ballooning in Turkey’s Cappadocia, Dubai is no exception as one of the must do bucket list items here is to go out into the desert for some Dune Bashing in a four wheel drive.

Dubai has a wide selection of tour operators for Dune Bashing so it can be quite overwhelming. I decided to use Viator to book my Dune Bashing experience, a website that I’ve seen good things about for a while but have never used it until now. It pays to do your research as all providers on here charge different prices. I finally settled on this one here, however shop around to try and find the best one that suits your needs.

Video: Red Dune Bashing in Dubai


During my stay in Dubai I was calling the Yassat Gloria Hotel & Apartments home (you can read the full review of that stay here) and this is where I was picked up from for my Dune Bashing experience. Six people are allocated to each car and everyone else had already been picked up so I was the last one in before we all headed out to the desert of Dubai.

After departing the hotel the drive was a good 45 minutes to an hour as Dubai’s urban sprawl made way for open dusty lands with numerous large billboards advertising up and coming housing developments in what seems like the middle of nowhere.

Our first stop was a marshaling point for all the four wheel drives to meet up. To keep everyone entertained you could partake is some quad bike riding and zip around some of the dunes in close proximity, or you could simply sit back and wait, grabbing something to eat or drink as well as a handy toilet stop. During this time the drivers would also let air out of their tyres suitable for driving in the sand as road driving tyres require more pressure.

The car park here was literally full of over a hundred four wheel drives, the difficult thing to do was to find the correct one to get back into as they all looked very similar, usually white and all just about of them were Toyotas. Back in the car we drive a short distance just across to the other side of the main highway where we meet with a group of another 10 or so cars. This would be the convoy we travel in whilst bashing around the dunes.

Then we are off. We start off nice and steady along the flat surfaces of the sand dunes close to the main highway, then we suddenly veer off along with the rest of our convoy driving right up behind the car in front of us. Our driver makes a series of sharp turns flicking sand up the side of the car and spraying on the window all the while keeping in toe with the car in front. We travel up and down, around the dunes as if we are riding a roller-coaster, hanging onto the roll bars on the ceiling that have been specially installed in the car.

It was incredibly fun zipping around the dunes and watching the rest of the convoy in front and behind keeping up as we snaked our way through the Dubai desert. A short time into the journey we pulled over with the rest of the group of vehicles to get out of the car and walk the short way to the top of a dune. From here we should have been able to see the sun setting over the desert, however tonight it wasn’t meant to be with clouds obstructing the view.

We jumped back in our respective cars and continued along the dunes hitting steeper inclines with our driver going about his business as if he knew the dunes like the back of his hand and not a care in the world about any potential danger of going off the wrong side of a dune. The convoy makes its way further into the desert as light fades quickly away and we head for flatter ground towards a highway that just appears out of seemingly nowhere.

Our small convoy jumps on the highway and then in what is an almost as impressive sight as Dune Bashing around the desert, out of nowhere it seemed hundreds if not thousands of four wheel drives came out of the desert and joined us on the highway. It was game on now as it appeared all the drivers were racing each other to get the best position on the highway. A huge line of cars flood the road which seems to otherwise be empty at any other time of the day all making the mad dash to our next destination, our desert camp.

Once we make it we head off road again into the desert sands under the cover of darkness in what felt like a chaotic swarm of cars trying to navigate and head towards the correct desert camp. Several are scattered throughout the sand dunes here to cater to the thousands of people that would have been out enjoying the trek on this night alone.

Our driver takes us inside the camp once we arrive and shows us quickly around and points out where everything is. As part of the package to come out for the evening you are provided soft drink that you can go up and help yourself to at anytime and a buffet dinner which was being prepared as we arrived. Our small group of six secure our table and we have plenty of time to wonder around the camp that offers visitors a number of activities before the evening show begins.

Camel rides and Henna Tattoos are popular choices among the guests and there are also a few shops selling trinkets to anyone interested. You also have the opportunity to smoke some Shisha which is also free if you do it away from your table in the designated area, or you can pay a small fee to have it with you at your table. Before we knew it, it was time to have dinner and the buffet tent opens up for everyone to come and help themselves. Two lines were formed one for males and one for females.

Whilst eating dinner the night’s entertainment began with a guy doing some tricks with fire and another performer displaying the art of Sufi Whirling Dancing similar to the Turkish style but more colourful and entertaining. Later in my trip I would go on to see another performance in Cairo that would be similar. Then of course it wouldn’t be a night of entertainment in the Middle East without a belly dancer to close out the night.

Once the show was over we all headed back outside the desert camp and back into our car for the long drive back to Dubai and to drop everyone off at their hotels for the evening. Before jumping back onto the main highway we needed to get our tyres pumped up again at a local strip of shops. The rivalry between the drivers is on full display here as they all cut each other off for a prime position for the shopkeepers to pump up tyres. This is the worst part of the night as this is the tourist trap of making everyone get out of the cars and encourage everyone to look at the shops while the tyres are pumped up. They are really pushy too.

I was last to be dropped off as I was last to be picked up also. It was a really enjoyable adventure out in the desert of Dubai, it is definitely worth doing but just be aware that it is one of those tourist attractions that can at times feel a bit ‘tacky’ but at the same time it’s a must do experience while visiting Dubai.


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GUIDE BOOKS

A guide book isn’t cheating! Before you leave on your next adventure ensure you plan to get the most out of your trip and check out the range of guide books from Lonely Planet. The comprehensive guide books on Dubai from Lonely Planet will give you an insight on what to expect on your travels to this amazing city of the United Arab Emirates.

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Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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