Behind the coast of the Persian Gulf and the modern city of Dubai lies the vast desert. The Dubai desert, known as Rub al-Khali by the locals, is part of the Arabian Desert and is one of the largest in the world. The history of this wasteland is linked to the Bedouins, Arab nomads from the North African and Arabian areas who lived in and around the desert. However, the name "Bedouin" originates from the Arabic language and means 'desert dweller'.
Their history cannot be understood without the animal that gave them mobility and food, the camel. The Bedouin tradition has transmitted all their knowledge about this animal, which has allowed us to enjoy today one of the most emblematic traditions of the desert. Camel rides are undoubtedly one of the things to do in Dubai.
Best choice for camel riding: during a desert tour
The best option, if not the only one, to enjoy a camel ride is as part of the desert tours from Dubai. Away from the asphalt, the skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city, these tours are the best alternative if you want to enjoy the nature of the area. The desert tours are offered as packages that include a wide range of activities to suit everyone's taste. Camel rides are a must on all tours and are usually the most popular activity.
Below I tell you everything you need to know about the tours that offer camel rides and complementary activities that you can do. All this to suit everyone's pocket. If you want to discover which are the best excursions to the desert here I share with you the best options.
Option 1: an economical tour
If your main interest is camel riding and you are not interested in other activities you are in luck. The cheapest desert tour options always include camel riding as a permanent activity, as it is the most popular activity among tourists. The cheapest tours are offered between 20 and 40 euros per person. The prices of the tours to the desert of Dubai are approximate, but always in this range, since it depends on the company with which you hire the tour.
Many of the hotels in Dubai serve as a starting point for these excursions. They will come to pick you up in a 4x4 and take you into the desert sands where they usually install a typical Bedouin camp that serves as a base camp. Once there, it is usual to be offered a welcome snack with typical products. The camel rides are usually given before sunset, as temperatures begin to drop and so you will have the opportunity to admire and photograph the sunset in the desert which is quite a spectacle. These excursions take about 5 or 6 hours from the departure from the hotel to the return.
Option 2: intermediate price
The operation and dynamics is the same as described above. With pick up at the hotel and arrival at the camp. The basic "intermediate" tours, to call them somehow, include everything I have mentioned but with the possibility of including new activities. Adding some of the extras that I am going to mention below, the prices usually start from 40 euros to 70 euros and the complete excursion lasts around 7 hours. All depending on the activities offered by the organizers and that you hire. With the camel ride included, of course. These extras can be:
- Arabian coffees and teas.
- Henna Painting (temporary Arab tattoos).
- Sandboarding (Sand Skiing).
- Traditional Arabian dresses to be photographed.
- Traditional dance performances
- Typical buffet dinner with vegetarian options
For me in the middle is the virtue and this type of tours are the most advisable. Camel rides usually last about an hour per tour and for the benefit of the animal itself. So the journey through the desert to "just" take a camel ride can be a little short. For a little more money adding some of these activities like a buggy tour in the desert of Dubai you will have a complete experience that will surely leave you more than satisfied.
Option 3: the premium tour
If you want to live the most complete desert experience and you have no budget limit, the most premium tours offer everything to complete a day, including overnight, that you will not forget. The main difference is that these tours include spending the night in the desert. The experience includes all the activities we have seen, the ones you want to do of course, to which must be added the ones that are added to spend the night in the desert like a real Bedouin. The prices are already close to or over 100 euros and offers the following extras:
- Some of the premium experiences offer safaris to see the fauna and flora of the desert.
- Dinner included with vegetarian options and all kinds of drinks.
- Nightly dance and fire shows.
- Overnight in the Dubai desert in a typical Bedouin tent including all amenities.
- The night also offers spectacular views and photographs of the sky (if the sky is clear, which is usually the case).
Only for the dinners with show in the desert of Dubai plus the addition of sleeping in the desert the extra expense is justified.
Tips for camel rides
The tours that offer camel rides are usually very well organized and have all kinds of amenities. However, it is advisable to go to the desert more prepared than usual to enjoy the experience 100%. For this I leave you a series of tips to visit the desert of Dubai to take into account:
The most important thing is to be prepared to fight the heat. In Dubai temperatures usually exceed 30 degrees all year round and the heat is especially intense from June to September (if you can, avoid going during these months). So don't forget to:
- Wear comfortable, cool, light-colored clothing (forget about Dubai's dress code because this is a tourist activity).
- Hat, cap or scarf are almost obligatory to protect your head.
- Sunscreen is a must.
- The excursions include water, however, it is advisable to bring your own water bottle or canteen.
Carrying a heavy backpack can be uncomfortable when moving through the desert, but there are certain things that you must carry if at all possible. To all the above to combat the heat in your backpack you should put:
- The camera (or smartphone in its absence) is an indispensable in these excursions. The camel rides usually have a stop at sunset to contemplate its beauty on the dunes. It is a moment that you will undoubtedly want to immortalize and leave some spectacular photographs.
- Bring a plastic bag or similar to protect your camera, phones and other electronic devices from the desert sand.
- Don't forget to pack some sandals in your backpack. Walking in the desert or doing a desert tour with sandboarding in the dunes your shoes will get full of sand and it is very uncomfortable. For those moments sandals are the right choice.
- If you are prone to motion sickness take some medication for it. The 4x4 trip through the dunes or the adventure through the Dubai desert on a quad bike can be quite hectic.
- The excursions include lunches, but there are many hours in the desert so taking some extra food in your backpack is not a bad idea. Avoid foods that can't withstand the heat.
As a final tip I recommend that you explore all available tour options and book in advance to avoid problems and plan your trip as well as possible.
When is the best time to take a camel ride?
Normally I do not recommend visiting monuments on Fridays, since it is the day of rest of Islam and the population of Dubai and surroundings takes the opportunity to go out and visit these places. This is not the case with camel rides.
On Fridays the stores and tourist attractions either close or reduce their opening hours, so it is a good day to visit the desert. The organization of the tours is generally very good. So it is not frequent that there are crowds of people or very long waiting times for camel rides.
As for what time of day is best, you don't have to worry about that. The excursion schedules are fixed and are always in the afternoon when the temperature starts to drop and the sunset arrives.
It is up to you to choose the best months to visit Dubai and its desert. If you have the possibility, avoid the months from June to September. The heat and aridity of the desert at this time can be unbearable. That is why the high tourist season is between October and April. My personal recommendation is to visit the desert in the months of December, January and February.
Are there camel rides in the city?
As you will understand the city is not the most ideal environment for camels. It is an animal highly respected by the local population so camel rides are not offered in the city, at least not officially.
If you are in the city and do not want to go to the desert to see these animals you have an alternative. In the historic district of **7 Best Things to Do in Al Fahidi Quartier in Dubai ** you can occasionally find shepherds who bring their camels with their typical gear to show the life of these animals to tourists. It is not a fixed activity, but you can go to the visitor center in Al Fahidi itself to ask and they will be able to inform you when it is going to take place.
##Alternatives: Camel racing and gastronomy.
Camel rides are not the only way to enjoy the culture that exists around these animals. There are other less common and less known options for tourists to live the Bedouin experience around the camel:
A very popular spectacle among the local population and also recommended for visitors. The racing season takes place between the months of October and April, and is held on Fridays and Saturdays in the early hours.
There are many tracks all over Dubai, but if you want to see the races live the best one is Al Marmoom Camel Racetrack. The largest racetrack in Dubai and located just in the village of Al Marmoom half an hour drive from the city. You can get there by Taxi and there are even buses that take you to the door of the venue.
The camel also produces products that are typical of the best places to eat in Dubai in the area such as meat, milk and chocolate. Not many restaurants offer camel meat on their menus, but if you want to taste it in the Al Fahidi area there are several places that are official suppliers of this product.
The milk obtained from the camel is mainly used to make milkshakes, ice cream and to accompany coffee. It is a less fatty milk and contains less cholesterol so it is ideal for sensitive stomachs.
One of the most popular camel milk products is made from camel milk. Chocolate. There are all kinds of bars, ice creams and candies that contain camel milk and are a good option to give as a souvenir or simply to enjoy.
As you will have discovered, the camel is a fundamental part of Dubai's culture and you can enjoy your trip with unforgettable experiences.