Desert safaris are one of the most popular activities for tourists visiting the desert regions of the Middle East. A desert safari involves driving into the desert in specialized 4×4 vehicles to explore the unique landscape, observe wildlife, ride camels, and experience cultural activities like Arabic cuisine, Henna painting, Tanoura dancing, etc. Determining the best time for your desert safari adventure requires considering factors like weather, crowds, and sunset timing to ensure a safe and magical experience.
The desert climate brings extremely hot summers and cooler winters. Braving the outdoor desert heat can be challenging and unsafe depending on the time of day and time of year.
- Summers bring very high temperatures of 104°F to 113°F from June to September. Early morning and late afternoon tours are available, but midday heat makes desert sightseeing nearly impossible.
- Winters from December to February see comfortable daytime temperatures between 73°F to 84°F, making this the best season for desert safaris.
- Spring and Fall weather hovers in the 90°F range which is easily managed in the cooled vehicles and camps. Desert tours run all day.
Crowds and Tourism Seasons
Desert safari popularity fluctuates based on school holidays, events and regional tourist seasons impacting availability and prices.
- Peak tourist season runs October to May bringing more crowds and higher pricing.
- Summer months draw fewer tourists, but Ramadan closures in April and May along with extreme heat limit tours.
- Optimal times for smallest crowds and best prices are late August to early September and late February to late March.
One of the main highlights of a desert safari is watching the sunset over towering golden dunes. Timing your tour to hit the dunes just in time for sunset makes for an incredibly memorable experience.
- Desert sunsets last around 30 minutes, so confirm what time the sun sets with your tour operator.
- Most tours run from 3 pm to 9 pm to include dune bashing, camel riding and cultural shows leading up to sunset, followed by barbecue dinners and emirate dancing.
- Private VIP tours allow custom start times to align perfectly with sunset.
Best Times for Desert Safari
Balancing all these factors of heat, crowds and sunset, the prime times for desert safari experiences are:
Fall (September to November)
Comfortable average temperatures ranging 84-93°F make sightseeing pleasant. Smaller crowds and lower prices make fall a great value. Sunset timings allow full experience.
Early Winter (December)
December still brings lovely daytime desert weather around 79°F before the tourists crowds surge later in the season. Plus the earlier sunset captures scenic views.
Spring (March to mid-April)
March and April host manageable 86°F weather during spring break rushes. April sunsets allow action-packed tours all day long to cater to families. Avoid Ramadan closures mid-April.
Booking Your Desert Safari
Following these best practice tips when researching desert safari tour operators to identify the ideal timing, pick-up location, customizations and right package for your party:
Confirm what’s included – Dune bashing, camel rides, sandboarding, quad biking, henna, buffet dinner entertainment etc.
Ask about start/end times – Ensure sunset timing over the dunes and arrange hotel pick-ups
Check for latest health protocols – Smaller vehicle capacity, face masks, sanitation etc.
Read recent reviews – Verify quality, safety, customer service and recommendations
Book in advance – Lock in preferred dates/times for sunset views as spots fill fast
With smart advance planning using this guidance around ideal weather, crowds, and sunset timing, you are sure to experience an epic and magical day on your Abu Dhabi or Dubai desert safari adventure. Enjoy the thrilling dune bashing, camel rides, delicious Arabic cuisine and awe-inspiring views that will leave you with lifelong memories of ancient desert culture and fun in the Arabian sun!
- Brave the desert heat in the cooler early winter months of December-February
- Avoid extreme summer heat over 113°F from June to September
- Schedule sunset dune visits on tours running 3pm-9pm in spring and fall
- Secure spots during lower crowd seasons like late August/September
- Confirm tour inclusions like dune bashing, meals and transfers
- Read recent reviews and book early for best sunset views
Planning out the ideal timing for your desert safari adventure around weather, crowds and sunset views ensures you have the best possible experience. Seeking out a reputable tour operator and asking the right questions about inclusions and customizations allows you to craft your perfect Arabian desert journey. By following this guidance, you are guaranteed to make magical memories riding camels, sandboarding down golden dunes and dancing under desert stars.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the best month to go on desert safari?
A: The optimal months for desert safaris are September, October, November, December, March and April based on comfortable temperatures and manageable crowds.
Q: What is the hottest month in Dubai?
A: July and August tie for the hottest months in Dubai with average high temperatures around 108°F (42°C). Daytime desert tours are very limited over these summer months.
Q: Can we go to Desert Safari during Ramadan?
A: Most desert safari camps close down during the 4 weeks of Ramadan in April/May. Very limited tours run so check ahead with operators.
Q: What should I wear to the desert safari?
A: Light, loose breathable clothing helps keep you cool, along with hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. Open shoes like sandals are fine for camps but closed toe shoes work better for activities.
Q: What should I bring with me to the desert?
A: Bring a light sweater or shawl as evenings cool down, motion sickness tablets if dune bashing could cause nausea, sun protection, camera, water and your adventurous spirit!
Q: How cold does the desert get at night?
A: Desert nights cool off to lows around 60°F (15°C) in January and can reach below freezing near 32°F (0°C) in December and February early mornings. Layers and blankets allow comfort watching sunsets and evenings at camps.
Q: Is desert safari safe for kids?
A: Most camps, shows and rides accommodate ages 4 and above. Some tours have kid friendly vehicles. Confirm age restrictions and safety harnesses to keep your little explorers secure.
Q: How long do desert safari tours last?
A: Standard desert safaris run 5 to 7 hours, with 3 pm pick ups to catch sunset views over dunes, followed by evening camp entertainment and rides before 9 pm returns.
Q: Should I tip on desert safari?
A: Drivers and activity guides appreciate 10-15% tips if service meets expectations. Tip in cash at the end for best service. Many camps now include all tips and fees so confirm when booking.
Q: What is best – morning, evening or overnight desert safari?
A: Evening desert safaris are hands down the most popular for timing beautiful sunset views over dunes with a full afternoon and evening of activities. Overnight camping under the stars provides a magical experience.
Q: Is desert safari allowed in summer?
A: While daytime summer heat over 110°F severely limits tours, some morning and late afternoon safaris run to beat the extreme midday temperatures from June to August.
Q: How do you dress respectfully for desert safari?
A: Women should cover shoulders and knees in loose lightweight clothing. Men can wear shorts but avoid tank tops and sleeveless shirts. Sun protection hats are culturally accepted.
Q: What food is served in desert safari?
A: Authentic Arabic buffet dinners are standard inclusions featuring classic Middle East cuisine like hummus, falafel, marinated chicken, rice, veggies, breads, juices and delicious desserts.
Q: Is desert safari safe during pregnancy?
A: Avoid dune bashing and quad biking. But camel riding, shows and camps should pose no risk for healthy pregnant women. Check with your doctor and notify your tour operator.
Q: Can I do desert safari with health problems?
A: Most camps and rides accommodate people with average mobility. Confirm if any serious medical or physical limitations could impact your experience.
Q: Is there alcohol on desert safari?
A: As an authentic cultural experience in a Muslim country, alcohol is not included during tours. Some luxury private VIP tours may serve champagne or wine with dinner upon request and proper licensing.
Q: Can singles join desert safari tours?
A: Yes absolutely. Desert camps, shows and rides welcome solo travelers to join group tours and meet friendly people from across the globe while discovering exotic Arabian adventures.