Dune bashing in Dubai is the one epic Arabian adventure you “must do” while you’re in the Emirates. There’s nothing like experiencing this roller coaster of a ride in the Arabian Desert, cruising over the sand dunes like a ship at rough waters cutting through the monster waves. I have done it three times and given a chance I will do it three times more. The tosses and turns, near free falls from the top, wild sway to the sides, revving up to the crests, are pure adrenaline shots for all the junkies out there. Top this up with the epic sunsets and an evening spent in the desert camp with some amazing belly dancing, shishas, and mouthwatering Arabian kebabs. You just cannot miss this.
Dune Bashing in Dubai – how to do it right?
If you do a casual search for dune bashing in Dubai on the internet you will be surprised at the number of tour operators that shows up. The number can go up to hundreds and most of them are number one in google 🙂 . There’re independent companies and there’re third parties hiring freelancers. While some have great reviews, some don’t. With the wealth of information on the internet, it can be overwhelming for the first timer to find the right one. Now if you are thinking I am going to recommend a name straightway, you’d be disappointed. I am writing this post not to give you one name but to give you the right ammunition that would help you to decide on the right operator. If you are trying to find the best desert safari experience in Dubai, then stop searching for the right names and start searching for the right questions to ask. Oh wait, there is a better way. Why search when you have everything right here in this post. So let’s dig down.
3 important question you must ask yourself prior to booking a Dune bashing in Dubai
The three most important question you should ask yourself prior to booking a dune bashing safari are:
1. What is your budget? The budget will determine your type of safari. You cannot expect a super luxury safari in a shoe string budget. Again, emptying your pockets doesn’t guarantee a super satisfied safari experience either.
2. What is your health condition? This is of utmost priority before you venture out to the dunes to make sure that dune bashing doesn’t bash you in the process. It’s a pretty wild ride there. You will be tossed up-down-right-left with sudden movements for about 30 minutes. As the 4X4 revs up to the dune crest you will see the sky in front of the windscreen. Then a sudden bump and everything turns upside down. With the sky behind, you are in a partial free fall now towards the dune base. If the driver wants to give a further twist he might just drift the car midway downslope and now you free fall sideways. The scene above is real and just to let you know that if you have spondylitis, arthritis etc., then it might be a good idea to stay clear of this. There’re normal safaris that don’t involve dune bashing. So it’s not the end of the world.
3. Do you have kids? If I were you, I would definitely not take my toddler for a ride like this. With so much turbulence inside the car, it is very important that you stick to your seat under the seat belt. If someone doesn’t fit an adult seat, then it’s an unnecessary risk you might be taking. I would leave the rest to your judgment.
5 Questions you must ask the operator for an epic dune bashing in Dubai
Finally, to the best part. Once you have sorted out your budget and you are reasonably fit to fly inside a car, it’s time to find the right operator meeting your needs. Google is your friend here. Don’t go for phone numbers advertised in bold on google. It might directly lead you to third parties and freelancers. The best way is to browse for a company site with good reviews and use the contact number mentioned there. Alternatively, if you have enough time you can drop them an email with all the relevant questions. If it is a genuine company with concern for its customers, you can expect a quick reply. Once you sort out the company the 5 most important questions that can make or break your dune bashing in Dubai experience are:
1. Independent company or using freelancers? Safaris are conducted by independent companies with their own fleet of cars and drivers as well as by firms who hire freelancers. We would recommend going with an independent safari provider. You can confirm the driver details in this case. There’re a lot of negative reviews on the internet over drivers not interacting with passengers. I myself went through this experience and its kind of boring. Mostly this happens because of language barriers. A safari ride becomes fun when there is a little interaction inside the car. Hence it is imperative that the driver knows English.
2. Is the driver trained to handle emergency situations? Dune bashing is an adventure sport and like any other adventure sport out there, there’re risks involved here too. There have been numerous cases of cars turning turtle, rollovers, and people getting injured. So it’s always better if the driver is trained to handle emergency situations.
3. Cars and seat preference? What kind of a car is on offer. Almost 99% of the 4X4 SUVs we saw during our dune bashing were Toyota Land cruisers. The SUVs are generally fitted with rollover cage but there is no harm in confirming this before hand. The seat selection does matter in the overall safari experience. The land cruisers have 2 rows behind the driver. I did my first safari sitting beside the driver. The second one in the middle row and the third in the last row. From my experience, I would recommend avoiding the last row which is cramped for space. For every bump I had my knee knocking against the front seat. Considering the fact that I don’t fall in the tall category, this is something important you should consider if you are 6ft or plus. Try to negotiate for the first seat or the middle row at least if you are a couple.
4. Shared or private camps? This is a very important aspect of your whole safari experience, but depending on your budget you might or might not be able to negotiate for the same. Generally, for low budget safaris, camps are shared. There are merits and demerits to this. The good thing is it’s mostly a big camp with a lot of people around creating a very vibrant atmosphere inside. The area is spread out so it doesn’t feel like overcrowded or cramped. The bad thing is the queues for food can get very long. Not only for food but the queue can stretch to other activities like Shisha, Henna, camel rides etc. If you wait too long for the queue to end, you might miss some delicious kebabs. This happened to us during our last safari. By the time we reached the end, some of the dishes were long gone and sadly there was no one around to talk to or complain. Since these camps are shared it is very difficult to find someone responsible to put forward your issues. Conversely, if you prefer a private camp the price will go up. And choosing a private camp doesn’t mean a small camp necessarily. We chose a private camp for our 2nd safari but found it to be almost the same size as the shared camp. The number of people was comparable. So my guess is, a private camp with privacy might have a potential to hit your pocket hard.
5. Is food and especially drinks included in the price? It might be a good idea to confirm this beforehand. Usually, food is included, but you have to pay for drinks and other activities like camel rides, ATB rides, etc.
Dune bashing in Dubai – our personal experience
I did dune bashing in Dubai twice with my stag group and the third time with my wife. The first one was the best one in the sense that everything was so new to us. The expectations, the build up of emotions as we approached the fiery red desert is unforgettable.
From my very first trip, I can tell you that it is very important, your first dune bashing in Dubai experience should the best one. If I didn’t like the first one, maybe I would not have gone for the other two. The next two trips were not very different from the first one. My second tour had a private camp. The safari was awesome but the camp was almost similar to the shared camp during my first tour, with a lot of people and long queues. My third trip was especially unforgettable because it was Stuti’s first. She kept on screaming and yelling as our SUV made waves across the dunes while I was just enjoying her emotions.
I hope this post will help you to find an epic dune bashing experience in Dubai. Do write to us if you find anything else that is worth sharing.