Report and Pictures by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
Dubai, 04 May 2010: It is said that if you go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and do not experience the thrill of Desert Safari you have missed the essence of your visit to the land of traditional deserts part of which has been converted into concrete jungles and modern hubs of civilization.
After visiting different locations in and around Dubai, my host, Elias suggested that we should experience the Desert Safari. Though initially I showed some kind of disinclination towards this adventurous pursuit, eventually I agreed to explore the sand dunes and desert topography and see what it all means going on the Desert Safari and why it has been highly recommended.
We were picked up at Dubai Grand Hotel at 3pm by a vehicle driven by a young and dynamic Philippine. Already there was a young couple from Sharjah hailing from Kerala. A little later another two young friends from Mumbai joined us and the vehicle moved in the direction of Kalba. At around 4pm the vehicle stopped at the starting point of the Desert Safari which has an enclosure and garden where one can see pea-hens pecking insects from the garden. Close by one camel, one horse and a mare were kept ready for any one who wanted a ride by paying a price.
The chief attraction of this place is that a number of desert vehicles have been kept ready for hire managed by the Alramool Motor Cycle who charge 125 Dhirams for a fifteen minutes ride. We could see a number of youngsters zooming past and having adventurous ride on the slopes of the desert prior to the start of the safari. There were a number of foreign tourists from different countries clicking pictures of their family members and friends. It really funny to see two monkeys playing pranks with tourists for food and attention. An Arab dwarf with white robe was obliging the tourists to have their pictures taken with him, of course for a small fee.
At around 5pm, the Philippine driver let off pressure from the wheels of the four wheel driven vehicle so as to have proper grip of the sand while undertaking the Desert Safari. Usually during the Desert Safari four wheel driven land cruisers belonging to particular agencies move in proximity and assemble in groups at certain vantage points or during sunset so that the tourists can have an opportunity to take pictures.
Fastening the safety belts and holding tight the side handles we were ready for the Arabian roller coaster ride through desert driving also known as dune bashing. This is the most exciting and thrilling part of the event. The Philippine driver showed off his skill by the rushing and twisting the four-wheel drive against the sand dunes. It is similar to having a roller coaster in the sand dunes.
As the land cruiser went up and down as well as sideways we could see the sand dunes rising before us like waves in the sea and feel the excitement and appreciate the controlled skill of the driver. As the land cruiser moved further deeper into the desert we could see nothing but sand heaps all around without any vegetation or earth or rock formation. Getting down for picture session we could feel the fine desert sand blowing gently in the wind and the wave formations on the slopes of the sand dunes.
After nearly an hours’ thrilling dune bashing the vehicle proceeded to a regular road and drove for nearly fifteen minutes towards the desert camp. Halting outside the camp, the tourists can avail the facility of the camel ride and or the four wheeler motor bike ride that is included in the package. We did have a brief camel ride.
At around 6.45 pm, we entered the camp, an enclosure with a square stage at the centre and low wooden tables kept around and low cushions known as majlis to sit on. There are souvenir shops and a henna joint for decorating hands and feet for those who have an interest in these indulgences. There were two open tents in which tourists could smoke the flavoured Shisha or water-pipe.
Prior to the buffet dinner we had cold drinks and stuffed rotti. Meanwhile, a disc jokey played melodious Arabic music. At 7 pm, the buffet was thrown open and men and women in separate queues collected the common vegetarian food and the non-vegetarians collected the barbeque chicken or other meat at two separate counters out side the food tent.
Meanwhile, the singers and later male and female dancers presented traditional entertainment programmes including belly dancing to the accompaniment of traditional Arabic music.
At around 8pm the camp programme came to an end and we started back to our residence and reached at around 9pm. Looking back, the entire experience of six hours was worth the time and money. It was a good opportunity for me personally to know the different cultural aspect of the desert life and an occasion to capture some of the finest desert topographical pictures in my camera.
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