Tag Archives desert

Camel Trekking Dubai

by Friday, May 15, 2015

thewanderlustyogi.netI recently spent two days in Dubai in the United Emirates. I flew Emirates Airlines and this was where my layover was.  I could add this short stopover at no additional charge to my flight price. For this reason, being able to break up my long haul flight back from my trip to Bangkok, and getting a glimpse of this fast developing, and progressive city, (in reality, man- made for “tourists”), I couldn’t pass it up.

I’m not all into high-end fashion, like some of my friends.   This is probably more so because I can’t afford it, so why tease myself?  But this is what people always would tell me to check out when I mention I was going there.  I would,  just to say I did,  and  humor myself, (maybe? but I doubt it-sorry girls) but that’s not what my intentions for going there was for.  My goal was to check off another item on my bucketlist, which is:

“ride a camel in the desert” 

I have no idea why that fascinates me so much, but it’s what I was there to do.  The fancy malls and impressive buildings  would be cool to see, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t.  My daughter was on this trip with me and when I asked her if that interested her, she screamed, “YES!” So it was decided. Camel trekking in the desert……….check!

The real point of this stopover was mainly to relax a bit.  Our itinerary for the two-week trip we planned was so jammed packed, (just reading it made me tired), and I even doubted that we could accomplish everything we set out to do.

Assuming that we did, I knew we would be exhausted and all done touring by the time we got to Dubai.  We wanted to keep our layover schedule extremely light to help us unwind a little after our time exploring India and Thailand. We thought it was a simple, yet a perfect end to our trip. My daughter also wanted to see the outlet mall, because she heard there were knock-offs there. Other than that, we were good.

The plan:

day 1:

  • arrive in the afternoon 
  • hang out at the hotel pool
  • get dinner
  • go to the Dubai Outlet Mall

day 2:

  • breakfast at hotel
  • beach all day
  • camel desert ride and Arabic dinner show

day 3:

  • breakfast at hotel
  • flight back home

 

I searched the internet for camel trekking tours in Dubai on my last night in Bangkok. I had to do some research because there were many different options and price ranges. I also wanted to read reviews on trip advisor and yelp for the best one.

We chose the Half Day Camel Trekking Desert Safari package ,that included:

  • hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • 4×4 desert safari drive
  • camel trekking in the Arabian desert
  • traditional Arabic buffet dinner
  • belly dancing show
  • sheesha
  • henna

The package seemed like it had everything we were looking for and more! The reviews were great and the price seemed reasonable so we booked it. We booked it through getyourguide.com and the company was North Tours LLC and the cost was $85.00 USD/pp.

On the day of the tour they picked us up at our hotel lobby at 3:30 pm. There was another family from our hotel joining us.  They were a very nice family from Italy. It was a husband and wife on their 30th wedding anniversary and their 18-year-old daughter who accompanied them on their trip to help them with translation.  They couldn’t speak English and felt better with her interpreting for them.  She laughed how she made out great, being able to come to this supposedly romantic trip for two, for free, just because they needed her language skills. By the way, her English was super.

The driver picked us up and we drove about 30 minutes or so to the entry point of the desert. He then switched the SUV in 4 wheel drive and just went for it. We where all shocked at how crazy and fast her was going. We all laughed with a mixture of excitement and fear.  We were literally being throw all around the vehicle.   I looked up and noticed padded roll bars and became instantly aware that we were in for a bumpy ride. It was way more of a road trip then any of us expected.  But we survived.

We got to the site of the desert camp. It was very cute and so Middle Eastern looking. (if there’s such a thing?) I loved it!  There were many low table aligned around a stage in the center. They each had place setting and cushions as seats in the sand. Each table had a number.

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sheesha smoking room

Encircled around the dining area were covered rooms, each with its own purpose.  Upon arriving, a man served us waters and showed us to his room. It was a souvenir shop selling traditional desert turbans, and belly dancing wraps that he, in seconds, adorned us with. thewanderlustyogi.net He quickly tried to sell them to us and when we said that we weren’t interested he got sort of aggressive try to barter us down and kept trying to pressure us to buy the items.  I felt like I was back in New Delhi.  We didn’t budge. I mean, where the heck would we wear these at home? Nowhere!

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my attempt at belly dancing

The driver told us to wait a few minutes and the camel trek guide would be there momentary.  We browsed around the shop and then the area.  Some of the other rooms were for sheesha smoking, another for henna, some looked like it was a serving area for food, and then a bar. We drank down our waters fast.  It was so hot! Desert hot! We were very glad at that moment that we chose the evening trek, we couldn’t imagine how hot it would have been, mid day! Yikes!

I glanced over and saw the camel guide heading our way, also the Italian family walking towards us, all decked out in their desert attire.  I guess the daughter wasn’t too good at translating NO!? They did look cute though.

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camels just chillin’

The guide walked us over to our camels. There were 3 lined up, attached by ropes to one another.  The first one was going to be for the Italian mom and daughter, the second for the Italian dad and the 3rd, for my daughter and me.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe all had help getting onto these huge beasts.  They were sitting in the sand.  Ours was a little feisty, making noise and using its mouth to nudge the poor Italian dad.  The dad looked concerned but the guide just laughed. Good thing the camel had a muzzle over its mouth.  Then all at once, the guide instructed the camels to stand. We all yelled out a little. It felt like we went up high so quick.  We started our trek.

thewanderlustyogi.netThe trek was calm and quiet as the camels walked slowly, one after the other. The guide just walked at a minimal pace in front of our caravan and pulled us through the Arabian desert. Did I mention it was hot? It was so hot and dry. I know. It is the desert after all, but its hard to understand that feeling of “desert heat” until you are actually in it. I wish I drank more and felt completely dehydrated. I tried to put that out of my mind and be in the present moment. This was hard to do because I was also trying to capture this moment by filming and taking pictures.thewanderlustyogi.net

I was talking to myself in my mind the whole time,

” this is so cool”,

“Make sure you get some good footage and pictures for instragram.”

“Never mind that, just enjoy it!”

” I hope this camel doesn’t freak out!”

” I’m so hot and thirsty.”

“How far are we going to go?”

” We could be killed out here!”

“Don’t think like that.”

thewanderlustyogi.netAnd after an hour and a half  our trek ended in the middle of the Arabian desert. What? Then we saw the SUV driver on his way over the sandy hills.  Whew! He came to the end point and picked us up to bring us to the dinner show.  I asked him if he would take a few shots for us and he did. I was glad and thankful.

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our camel trekking guide

After another wild ride in his SUV we made it back to camp.  We were the only ones there. The driver said we could go to the bar and get more drinks (all non-alcohol drinks were unlimited and included) and we were able to do henna and sheesha if we wanted, while waiting for the dinner and show to begin.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe got drinks and headed over to the henna room. The lady wasn’t very friendly, but we really wanted henna. She only did a very little area on our hand. We asked her if she could do a little more if we would tip her a few dirham, and she obliged.

After that, the place started filling up. I couldn’t believe how many more people arrived.  It looked like the dinner show was going to be sold out.  The line for the henna started to get long, so we were happy that we got it done before anyone else showed up.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe looked over to another room and they were setting up for sheesha. I know its bad and probably as cancer causing as cigarettes but I do sheesha, or as we normally call it, hookah (on occasion).  Its like non-smoker smoking an occasional cigar every so often. Everything in moderation I say. And since we were there, and this is “their” tradition (when in Rome)  I even let my daughter do it, even though she took like one puff and didn’t like it very much,  Good!thewanderlustyogi.net

Sitting there on the cushions, puffing the sheesha with other tourists, we all suddenly noticed the amazingly beautiful, desert sunset.  It looked like no other sunset I have ever seen before.  With the desert as the back drop, and the halo of dissipating heat surrounding the sun, it was hard to even give it justice by a picture.  I was expressing how absolutely stunning it was and a worker who over heard me told me to go to the second floor for an even better view. It was incredible and it felt like a very special moment. Standing alone on the second floor balcony, gazing at this view, felt surreal. I almost felt outside of my body for a moment. A warm sensation came through my body, from the crown of my head, making its way down to my feet.  As this warmth left my body, I got a sudden chill.

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desert sunset

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desert sunset from 2nd floor and looking over the desert camp

People were scattered around the camp, some looking at souvenirs, some getting henna, some smoking sheesha, and some just relaxing in the sand on the hill behind.  It felt very nice and relaxing, especially with the heat subsiding. The announcer spoke over the intercom that it was time for dinner and that we should all go to our assigned tables.  Upon arrival our driver let us know which table was ours.thewanderlustyogi.net

The Italian family was also with us and some others. We sat down and greeted each other and then they announced that we could all line up to the buffet for food.  The line was long but moved along fast.  The Arabian men lined up and each scooped food onto our plates. We had a little of everything, just to at least try it all.  The gave way too much. My plate was heavy, filled with lamb kabobs, legumes, rice and pita.

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Arabic food

We all sat and chatted as we ate and after about 20 minutes the announcer said the show was about to begin. Red, blue and green lights started shining in the center of the stage and loud Arabic music (that had a sort of dubstep sound) began to play.

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belly dancer at the dinner-show

A belly dancer took the stage. She shook, wiggled her hips and stomach and danced all around, which reminded me a lot like Shakira. She was very entertaining and talented. Then the second act  took the stage. thewanderlustyogi.netIt was a man with a lighted dress that spun like a top. It was a great show and was fun to watch.  At the end the announcer thanked us for coming, hoped we enjoyed it and said to head out to the area of parking to find our drivers.

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Maddie and Julia (the Italian daughter)

We hopped back into the SUV with the Italian family and all said how much we enjoyed it. We told the driver to take it easy driving back. We said we were all full from dinner, not to mention,  it was pitch black and you couldn’t see a thing! He looked through the rear view mirror, smiled, and then pressed on the gas, full speed.

It was very fun and I’m so happy I not only got to take off another item on my bucket list, but it was even better than I anticipated!   If you ever go to Dubai, I  highly recommend this tour. It’s a great time and something you just can’t do anywhere else!

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Italian family we met on the camel trekking tour

 

 

 

How to Spend Two Days in Dubai?

by Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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“Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, Dubai” where my daughter and I are staying

How to spend two days in Dubai, or how my daughter and I plan to anyway. This April I am heading on a two week trip that includes Dubai as one of my stops. I originally didn’t have it on my itinerary, but because I am taking Emirates Airlines, it is a stop on both ends of my trip. I figured since it was about the halfway point, and I was curious about this interesting city, why not extend my trip a few days and spend my layover exploring this city of extremes.

I only have 2 days, so I know I am limited to the activities I can do, but these are a few I’m planning on.

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Burj Kalifa, tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa:

Burj Khalifa is a top attraction of Dubai that has caught the eye of travelers around the globe. It is an awe-inspiring piece of architecture that keep visitors amazed by witnessing its grand presence. This, being the tallest building in the world offers impressive panoramic views from its observation deck, which is located on 124th floor. This architectural wonder is the pride of Dubai and contributes largely to the tourism of the Emirate. I don’t plan on staying in this building for too long, since I have a fear on heights. I’m scared of just thinking about it, but I know it will be worth it.

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Palm Island, Dubai

Palm Island:

Palm Island is the most gallant of all of Dubai’s mega-projects. It is a man-made island that is shaped as a palm tree, which the city bills as the eighth wonder of the world. There are two more islands, Jebel Ali and Deira, in varying stages of development. This is the world’s largest artificial island. The island features famed 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab and real estate suitable for the rich.

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The Dubai Mall, Dubai

The Dubai Mall:

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall. Located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it is part of the 20-billion-dollar Downtown Dubai complex, and includes 1,200 shops. The mall doesn’t only offer high end retail stores, that I can only window shop in, but it also has its own indoor ski slope and an aquarium. I think just walking around and admiring all the intricate details of the interior would be enjoyable enough, I don’t necessarily need to buy anything. 

 

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Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

Jumeirah Beach:

Jumeirah Beach is a white sand beach that is located and named after the Jumeirah district of Dubai. It runs along the coast south of the city’s oldest area connecting with The Palm Jumeirah and then ends between the southern end of the Jumeirah Beach Residence. The beach features large hotels, resorts, and housing developments, including the Burj Al Arab (Arab Tower) hotel, Wild Wadi Water Park, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and the old-world tradition,  Madinat Jumeirah, a hotel and shopping complex.

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camel safari in the desert, Dubai

Camel riding in the desert:

One of the things we are most excited to do is riding on camels and going to a safari and dinner in the desert. The tour we chose will allow you to take a camel ride in the desert and then have a tradition Arabic meal with belly dancing, henna tattoos, hookah and sand skiing. This seems like such an authentic view of the Arab Emirates and we can’t wait to experience this first hand. I just hope my camel is nice.

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traditional Arabic dinner in the desert, Dubai

The Dubai Safari and Camel Riding in the desert

In my research of what to do in Dubai, it is clear why they call it a city of extremes. Where else can you go inside the tallest building in the world, to ski slopes in the largest mall in the world, to the intense heat of the desert and then swim in the blue ocean, all in one city? Only in Dubai can you do all of this. This over-the-top city is surely going to be something I have never seen before or ever will, I just hope my wallet can handle it.

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