Our driver took us back to the hotel, where we waited for our second tour, the evening/night tour. The second tour (Starlight Express ) started on time and, although we were worried about the idea of combining two of their tours, it worked quite well. The new guide we had was a great driver and very friendly, again with great English. We headed out to the dunes (apparently in a different direction then we did earlier in the day). We met another Arabian Adventures vehicle at the start of the desert, and started our “dune bashing”.
The dune bashing is basically a roller coaster ride through the dunes. The driver deflates the tires to get better traction in the sand, and tears up and down the dunes at incredible speeds, barely maintaining control of the vehicle. Since there were two vehicles, we were able to get some great shots of the other car. The dune bashing is limited to a small area – perhaps to minimize the environmental impact of the activity.
After the dune bashing, we went to visit another camel farm. A camel farm is basically an enclosure in the desert with many camels inside. The animals were very friendly (and healthy, unlike most of the animals we’ve seen in our travels). We did a little bit more dune bashing, and then arrived at camp. The ‘Bedouin camp’ was very luxurious – flush toilets, electricity (until they shut off the generators so we could sleep better). They pitched a tent for us, which was underneath a larger structure. We started the evening with the other group who did the dune tour with us. We had the opportunity to do a short camel ride (actually less then a couple hundred feet, with the camel being led by a Bedouin. We had a great BBQ meal, and sat afterwards and smoked a sheesha (water pipe). It was the first time I’d tried it, and it gave me a very pleasant buzz, and tasted nice. The other tour group left us to head back in to the city, leaving us, our guide, and the guy who ran the camp as the only people there. The camp looked like it was built for probably 50 to 100 guests – so tourism really isn’t doing well, especially given that this is their peak season.
We didn’t sleep very well, because the camp was unfortunately located very close to a major new road that had just been put in. Sound carries very well in the desert, and so this sort of ruined the quiet sleeping-outside-in-the-desert experience for us. The guide apologized for the noise, and we made sure to mention it to Arabian Adventures – I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve already moved the camp by now.In the morning, we watched the sun rise over the dunes, had a nice breakfast, and went to try sandboarding. It wasn’t as scary as we thought it was, and the driver was very relaxed about it – starting on bunny hills and working our way up to more impressive hills. After this we headed back to town. Although the tour was supposed to end at Abu Dhabi, we found out that the driver was heading back to Dubai, which is where we wanted to go, so he just took us directly there. He dropped us off outside the downtown area, and we got a cab back into town. We had booked again at Le Meridien and checked in.
To see the rest of our photos and videos from our safari, please click here.