Our last day in Abu Dhabi was Sunday 16th April. Our flight back home was at almost 2 am the Monday morning, which is why it doesn’t quite make sense this was the day we planned to wake up the earliest we had all holiday to go on a desert safari. My younger brother and I were sharing a hotel room, we got up around 7.30 am and went downstairs to meet my step-dad for one last hotel breakfast. We felt my little brother and sister were a bit too young to deal with an outing in the desert, so my mum decided she would miss out and stay with them for one last day by the pool. Swimming was their favourite thing all holiday so they were totally fine with that, it was all they ever wanted to do.
Our guide picked us up at 8.30 outside the hotel, in his 4 by 4, we were introduced to an Australian couple who would be joining us. They had already sat in the middle seats, leaving my step-dad to sit in the front seat and my brother and I in the back but that was alright, the back was probably the most fun. After a 40 so minute drive of small talk (and surprisingly BBC Radio 1), the main road had a turning that just continued off into sand dunes. On minute we were driving 120km/h with cars on either side of us, and the next we were surrounded by sand.
Before driving on sand dunes, some air must be released from the vehicle’s tyres. The driver stopped off at a camel farm for us to see while he did this. This farm was home to huge dark brown camels I had never seen before. Seriously I had no idea camels came in that colour and not just the light sandy brown you usually see. Other than the initial surprise of these massive camels, the farm was pretty uneventful. We fed them some hay and took some pictures before setting off again. From here, it got pretty crazy.
After the camel farm, it was all off road driving to the camp. There was one other group in another identical car to us who drove in front. This meant we watched their car do everything we were about to do. All the drifting, all the sand hitting the windows, wheel spins. The scariest part about following their path is we saw which dunes they went over and just how high they were. So you would watch this car slowly drive up a dune and then just disappear over the other side of it, knowing you would then do the exact same thing. Driving over sand dunes is just like a roller coaster ride, we were screaming and giggling over all the bumps while Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ played (Radio 1 was still on). I liked to call them ‘Dune Tunes’, which managed a giggle from my brother.
Before arriving at camp, we had a little break and got out of the car to take more pictures. At this point there is nothing around you but sand, you are truly in the middle of the desert, which is frickin crazy and scary and wonderful all at once. It wasn’t unbearably hot yet as it was still morning, if it was I would have probably experienced some different feelings. This was what made the excursion for me. As a Geography student, I was in awe. Just 40 years ago Abu Dhabi was desert land and consisted of just several hundred huts. Today, this city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and is a hub of international business, trade and tourism. Pondering that thought while standing in a big pile of sand was just mind-blowing.
By the time we got to the camp, the heat was kicking in. We had an extremely short camel ride, comically short actually, but I suppose the best part of a camel ride is them standing up and sitting back down while you struggle to not fall over the top of them. There were a few old snowboards placed next to a tall sand dune so we had a bit of a crack at ‘sand boarding’ too. Safe to say I didn’t exactly find a hidden talent there, but I did manage to stay standing. Then after a cool down and a minute shaking the sand out of our trainers, and then out of our socks, we jumped back in the car to go back to our hotel for a well deserved nap.
Going to the middle of a desert was such an impressive experience, you have very mixed emotions about this hot, unforgiving land. One part of you is in awe while the other half is pretty freaked out and kinda just wants to go home. This is defiantly a trip that will push you out of your comfort zone and let you see another side of Abu Dhabi you otherwise may have forgotten about.
Well that’s everything on our Abu Dhabi adventure from me, do check out the other two posts if you enjoyed