Dune bashing, riding up and down high sand dunes in a 4×4 vehicle, is one of the most popular attractions on a desert safari in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, the aggressive driving can be an intense experience, leaving some travelers feeling nauseous, uncomfortable, or nervous.
The good news is, you don’t have to dune bash to enjoy a desert safari. While some tour packages may include dune bashing by default, many operators offer the flexibility to customize your itinerary. So whether you want to avoid dune bashing entirely or just take a break from the bumpy ride, you have options.
Why People Skip Dune Bashing
There are a few common reasons travelers may want to skip dune bashing:
The fast, bumpy motions of dune bashing can cause motion sickness, even if you don’t normally get car sick. The constant up and down jostling as the vehicle crests and descends steep sandy hills can be nausea-inducing.
While reputable tour operators have trained drivers and take safety precautions, overturning is a rare but potential risk of dune bashing that makes some travelers uncomfortable. The steep dunes, high speeds, and abrupt driving style require skill to navigate.
Some riders may experience back or neck pain from getting jostled around on the bumpy dune bashing ride. The activity may aggravate existing injuries or conditions. Additionally, absorbing the impact can simply be tiring for some.
Traveling with Children
The erratic driving motions can make little ones anxious or upset. Children may also have greater safety concerns with the aggressive riding style. Some parents decide the excitement and risks of dune bashing don’t suit their family.
Preference for Other Activities
While dune bashing may be the stereotypical desert safari activity, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Many travelers simply prefer to allocate their time to other sights and experiences like camel riding, sandboarding, barbecue dinners, shows, star gazing, and cultural encounters.
How To Skip Dune Bashing
If you don’t want to dune bash during your desert safari, consider these tips:
Book a Customizable Tour
Look for operators that offer flexible, customizable itineraries rather than rigid group tours. That way you can expressly ask to skip dune bashing right from the start. Simple Desert Safaris and Arabian Nights Desert Safaris are examples of companies that provide customized private tours.
Speak Up During Your Tour
Even if you accidentally book a group tour that includes dune bashing, don’t be shy about speaking up during your outing. Communicate your preference to avoid the activity to your driver and guides once you are picked up. Most will happily accommodate your wishes.
Take a Break
If you want to try dune bashing but need a respite, request a short break midway through. Stop to enjoy a soft drink or snack while parked atop a scenic dune overlooking the desert. This gives you a chance to rest before continuing if you choose.
Fill time skipped from dune bashing with other quintessential desert experiences like camel rides, sandboarding down dunes, staring up at the stars around a campfire, feasting at a Middle Eastern barbecue dinner, watching cultural tandem shows, getting henna tattoos, trying on traditional Arabic clothes, exploring fossil rocks and desert wildlife, snap pictures at an oasis, and more.
Enjoying Desert Safari Without Dune Bashing
Avoiding dune bashing doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on having fun on desert safari day. You can craft an itinerary packed with memory-making moments without those bumpy, sandy hills.
Plodding through the desert atop a camel is a classic for a reason – you get to immerse yourself in the serene, harshly beautiful sandy landscape from a unique vantage point. Don’t miss out on snapping that iconic photo of your caravan riding camels into a red sand sunset. Many tours will include 30-60 minutes for camel riding.
One of the most popular alternative dune activities is sandboarding! Tour operators will provide you with a snowboard-like plank to sled, surf, or snowboard down the sandy desert hills. It provides thrills minus the vehicle.
Watching the sun dip below the dunes is an iconic Middle Eastern experience. The spectacle paints the sands in golden hues contrasted by blue night skies and stars. For the best views, tours will take you to vista points during the late afternoon light.
Evening Campsite Gatherings
After sunset, your tour will likely head to a Bedouin-style campsite to relax under strings of lights, sip refreshing drinks, enjoy shows and music, eat a filling buffet, smoke flavored shisha pipes, get henna tattoos, dress up in Arabic clothes, and snap pics by a campfire. You won’t miss crucial safari fun avoiding dune bashing.
At the campsite, you’ll likely enjoy lively Tanoura spinning shows featuring men in bright skirts twirling across the sand to highlight Emirati culture. Also popular are belly dancing performances, Arabic singing, local bands playing traditional music, and even fire shows featuring skillful displays like eating flames.
While exhilarating, dune bashing isn’t for everyone. Luckily, skipping that adrenaline-pumping activity doesn’t mean missing out on a quintessential desert safari experience. From camel rides to barbecue buffets under the stars, you’ll enjoy all the magic of Arabian nights without the bumps and jostles.
With customizable private tours, you can easily opt out of dune bashing entirely. Or if trying a group tour, simply speak up to skip or take breaks from the activity as desired. There are plenty of alternative adventures to fill your evening from sandboarding to Cultural shows to camping under constellations. With so many options, you can craft a desert escape perfectly tailored to your interests.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skipping Dune Bashing on Desert Safari
- Is dune bashing really dangerous?
While risky, dune bashing is relatively safe with trained drivers from reputable companies. However, there is a small risk of rollovers and injuries. The steep sandy slopes make controlling vehicles difficult. Drivers mitigate risks by taking safety precautions, but accidents are still possible.
- Can I get a refund if I decide not to dune bash?
If you booked a private customizable tour and expressly asked to avoid dune bashing upfront, you typically will not get a refund for skipping an activity you didn’t pay for originally. But for standardized group tours that include it, you may get a partial refund.
- What is the best desert safari company for avoiding dune bashing?
Arabian Nights Desert Safari and Simple Desert Safari offer private customizable tours that let you expressly skip dune bashing. Some companies like Desert Safari Dubai have an “only city tour option” excluding dune bashing too.
- Can children skip dune bashing?
Yes, children can skip dune bashing, no matter their age. Many parents prohibit toddlers and babies from the activity due to safety concerns. But operators allow travelers of all ages to opt out and will direct your party to alternative activities instead.
- If I get motion sickness, should I skip desert safari entirely?
Not necessarily – just avoid dune bashing specifically. Activities like camel rides, camping, shows, star gazing etc on desert safaris don’t tend to cause motion sickness for most. But the fast, bumpy, up and down motions of dune bashing very commonly cause nausea.
- What if part of my group wants to dune bash and part doesn’t?
No problem! Customizable private tours mean your group can split up during dune bashing then reunite after for other activities you all enjoy together like dinner and shows. Or on group tours, non-participants can wait in the vehicle while the rest bash dunes.
- Can we do a desert safari at night instead with no dune bashing?
Many evening-only desert safari tours are centered around the campsite experience, so they do not include adrenaline activities like dune bashing. These night safaris focus on sunset views on the drive over, then campsite entertainment, food, star gazing etc. So they make a great dune-bashing-free option.
- Is it possible to go into anaphylactic shock from a camel ride?
While extremely rare, anaphylactic shock from camel contact is possible – especially for those with sever animal, dust, or hay allergies. Reputable tour operators can provide additional guidance and precautions to minimize allergy risks on camel rides if requested.
- Can I choose not to ride a camel either?
Absolutely. If you are uncomfortable riding camels, let your guide know at the start of the desert safari. Many will offer alternative activities like additional time sandboarding, scenic desert photography sessions, falconry encounters, or time relaxing in camp.
- Will skipping dune bashing impact timing of the rest of the desert safari?
Typically no – your tour should be able to adjust timing of other activities to account for skipping dune bashing to still align with sunset, dinner timing, optimal star visibility etc. Meals and shows run on set schedules, but most other activities have flexibility to accommodate custom itineraries.
- What food is served at the desert safari buffet dinner?
Barbecue chicken, beef and lamb are staples, along with Middle Eastern classics like hummus, falafel, pita, rice, veggies, spices, nuts, fruits, juices etc. Vegetarian and halal options are available too. The spread tends to be very large and varied.
- Is it better to book a morning or evening desert safari trip?
Evening tours are most popular for good reason – the sunset views and seeing the desert transform under starry night skies make for an unforgettable atmosphere. But morning tours allow you to see desert landscapes bathed in golden sunrise hues at cooler hours too.
- Can we spend a night camping after the desert safari?
While most tours wrap up by midnight, extended overnight camping add-ons are sometimes an option, especially on private tours. Inquire with the operator about the possibility of spending the night under the Arabian stars instead of transferring back to city hotels.
- What is the best way to prevent getting motion sickness on desert safari?
If prone to motion sickness, sit towards the front of vehicles which reduces sensation of movement. Ahead of time, take motion sickness medication, wear motion sickness wristbands, eat light, stay well hydrated, and avoid strong smells, reading, and technology during travel.
- What is the difference between dune bashing and dune driving?
Dune driving refers to transferring between desert safari activity stops sightseeing sandy landscapes without intensive thrill-seeking. It avoids sudden sharp turns and dramatic ascents/descents that are the hallmark of extreme sport dune bashing specifically.
- How can I identify the least bumpy desert safari tour company?
Reading reviews is key – search for terms like “smooth ride” or inquiries about motion sickness history. Avoid language emphasizing adrenaline thrills and extreme adventure. Also request experienced, cautious drivers from the company ahead of booking.
- Will I miss photography opportunities by skipping dune bashing?
Not at all – you’ll likely stop atop picturesque dunes during golden hour for photos. Avoiding intense thrill riding doesn’t mean missing gorgeous desert visuals. For maximum photography time minus bumps, request a private tour with extended landscape photo stops built into the custom itinerary.
- Is it better to take an air conditioned vs open air vehicle?
For comfort, air conditioning can minimize nausea, cooling you during summer desert heat. But open vehicles allow better views and photographs. If breeze helps your motion sickness though, choose open air. Private tours tend to offer both options based on your group’s preferences.
- What should I wear and bring for desert safari?
Pack layers, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, scarf for sandstorms, strappy secure footwear, motion sickness remedies if needed. Long loose pants and tops keep sun off while ventilating body heat. Bring a light jacket in case evening gets chilly at camp too!
- Will I get reception on my cell phone during desert safari?
Maybe not – some areas in remote desert regions lack signal and towers. Downloading offline maps and apps can help navigate if separated from group. But disconnecting enhances immersing in the peaceful atmosphere! Safely stowing phones also protects devices during bumpy, sandy outings.
For travelers who get motion sickness easily or simply prefer to soak up desert vibes slowly, skipping intense dune bashing doesn’t have to eliminate enjoying safari outings. Fortunately, with options like private customizable tours, you don’t have to endure activities that don’t match your comfort level or interests. From sandboarding to cultural shows under the stars, try crafting your own thrills across ever-changing sandy seascapes instead. Just be sure to speak up about your preferences before and during your adventure! With so many possibilities beyond bumpy dune rides, discover your perfect Arabian day.