Desert safaris are popular excursions in desert regions like Dubai that typically involve dune bashing, camel rides, sandboarding, quad biking, and culinary experiences. But just how vast is the desert where these safaris take place? Here’s an overview of the size and scale of Dubai’s desert.
The desert region where Dubai Desert Safaris operate is part of the greater Arabian Desert, which spans across much of the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Desert encompasses an area over 900,000 square miles (2.3 million sq km), making it one of the largest deserts in the world.
To put that massive area into perspective:
- The Arabian Desert is over twice the size of the Sahara Desert in Africa
- It’s larger than the country of India
- You could fit the entire United States (including Alaska) inside the Arabian Desert with room to spare
One of the hallmarks of Dubai Desert Safaris are the enormous red and gold sand dunes. These majestic dunes are part of the Rub’ al Khali desert, which makes up around a third of the greater Arabian Desert.
- The Rub’ al Khali spans 255,000 square miles (650,000 sq km), equal to the size of France
- Its sea of sand contains dunes ranging in height from 100 ft to over 800 ft – some of the tallest in the world
- Wind and weather continuously reshape this “Empty Quarter,” creating an ever-changing landscape for desert goers to explore
Camel Trekking Routes
Camel treks are popular Desert Safari activities, meandering through the desert for hours at a time. The camel routes criss-cross a section of desert comparable in size to a small state or European country.
- A typical 6-8 hour trek will cover 15-25 miles. Other options range from 2 hours to multi-day expeditions.
- Assuming a similar trek density, there are thousands of miles of trails to accommodate camel rides.
- Laid end-to-end, the camel tracks could probably stretch across the continental United States.
So while individual safaris only cover a tiny fraction, Dubai Desert Safaris ultimately take place across a sea of sand larger than most countries. An endless landscape filled with towering dunes, adventures around every bend, and lifetime memories over the next sandy horizon.
- Dubai Desert Safaris occur in a region of the Arabian Desert spanning over 900,000 square miles, more than twice the size of the Sahara.
- Iconic dunes at sites like Rub’ al Khali reach towering heights of 800 ft amid 650,000 sq km of continuous sand.
- Camel treks criss-cross through a subsection of desert which could contain thousands of miles of trails.
- Although each tour only crosses a small swath, desert safaris ultimately explore an expansive, ever-changing landscape larger than most countries.
While the actual route may only cover a few dozen miles, Dubai Desert Safaris provide access to experience a small portion of one of the world’s largest, most magnificent deserts. An awe-inspiring sea of ever-shifting sand, home to iconic golden dunes rising and falling like waves frozen in time. An ancient landscape of both unimaginable scale and the smallest, most delicate details. Full of surprises just beyond the next dune, and adventures limited only by how far your camel can trek before sunset.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the total square mileage of the Dubai desert region?
A: The Dubai desert spans a portion of the Arabian Desert, which covers over 900,000 square miles in total across the Arabian Peninsula. The specific area where Dubai Desert Safaris operate is likely a few thousand square miles within that vast desert.
Q: How many sand dunes are in the Dubai desert?
A: It’s impossible to count the exact number of dunes, as they continuously change shape according to winds and weather patterns. But collectively across desert regions like the Rub’ al Khali section, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of sand dunes of varying sizes.
Q: How tall are the largest Dubai sand dunes?
A: Some of the tallest sand dunes in the Dubai desert reach heights over 800 feet, or the equivalent of a 50-60 story skyscraper. These enormous Star Wars-esque dunes are found across the neighboring Rub’ al Khali region.
Q: How many miles do camel treks cover in Dubai desert safaris?
A: Camel treks can range from short 2-hour rides to multi-day expeditions covering 100 miles or more. A typical desert safari camel ride will span 15-25 miles over 6-8 hours.
Q: What is the average Land Cruiser dune bashing ride distance?
A: Most dune bashing excursions cover 5-20 kilometers, or about 3 to 12 miles bouncing across the sandy, steep dunes. Longer private safaris may trek 30 or 40 kilometers deep into the sea of towering gold and red peaks.
Q: How hot does the desert get during Dubai desert safaris?
A: In the summer, desert surface temperatures can exceed 150??F during the day. Yet the dry air means it often feels less extreme than the actual temperature. Winter desert nights can drop below freezing. But most desert safaris take place during more temperate spring and fall months.
Q: What animals may be seen on a Dubai desert safari?
A: Desert wildlife glimpsed on Dubai camel treks and dune drives includes gazelles, foxes, falcons, owls, snakes, and more. Safari-goers might also spot the tracks or droppings of elusive leopards, wolves, and Arabian oryx among the dunes.
Q: Do desert safari expeditions require survival skills?
A: No survival skills are required, as tours provide all necessary provisions, transportation, guides, equipment, and support. But being prepared for intense heat, sun exposure, vehicle issues, storms, or injuries in remote settings is always wise.
Q: What is the most popular Dubai desert safari activity?
A: Dune bashing in Land Cruiser 4x4s is likely the most popular excursion. Camel trekking, quad biking, sandboarding, Bedouin camps, falconry, etc. are also extremely popular amongst desert goers.
Q: How dangerous are Dubai desert ATV/quad bike tours?
A: Dune quad biking carries more risk than camel rides but safari providers require basic training and reinforce safety. Still, rollovers and collisions do rarely occur if riders push past their abilities. Respect all guidelines to ensure a safe quad experience.
Q: Do I need vaccinations or medications for desert safari tours?
A: No special vaccinations or medications are typically required, beyond standard travel precautions. But visitors should consult their doctor if concerned. Having basic first aid supplies and appropriate attire/protection is also wise.
Q: Can young children join parents on Dubai desert safaris?
A: Most camel rides, 4×4 drives, camps, etc. allow children ages 5+ or older to participate alongside parents. Age and height restrictions may apply for certain activities like dune buggies, quad biking, or sandboarding depending on the child.
Q: Should I tip my desert safari guides/drivers/hosts?
A: Tipping is not required but is customary for good service ??? about 5-10% or more. Guides often rely on gratuities to supplement low wages, so generous tipping helps support their families.
Q: Is it safe for female travelers to join Dubai desert safari tours?
A: Dubai generally is extremely safe for solo female travelers, including group desert safari tours. As always, staying alert regarding valuables or harassment is wise. Reputable guides provide secure, comfortable tours.
Q: What is the best time of day to see desert sunsets on safari?
A: Sunset desert safaris allow you to watch the setting sun paint brilliant red, orange, pink hues across the dunes as your camel trek or 4×4 overdrive wraps up. This golden hour typically occurs between 5:30pm-6:30pm.
Q: Can tourists camp overnight deep in the Dubai desert?
A: While most overnight Dubai Desert Safaris setup luxurious Bedouin-style camps just beyond the conservation area borders, true backcountry camping requires special permits issued sparingly by Dubai Tourism.