Dubai is home to two popular safari experiences – the Dubai Safari Park and Desert Safari tours. While both offer a chance to see wildlife and take in the Emirati landscape, they are quite different. This article will compare and contrast these two attractions to help travelers decide which best suits their interests and budget.
The main differences between Dubai Safari and Desert Safari include:
- Type of Experience – Dubai Safari is a large wildlife park and zoo. Desert Safari tours involve dune bashing and campsites.
- ** Wildlife** – Dubai Safari features exotic animals from around the world. Desert Safaris may spot camels and gazelles.
- Activities – Dubai Safari offers shows, interactions and educational talks. Desert Safaris involve dune bashing, camel rides and entertainment.
- Duration – Dubai Safari is a full day out. Most Desert Safaris run 5-6 hours.
- Price – Dubai Safari entry starts from 200 AED ($55 USD). Desert Safari prices start around 150 AED ($40 USD)
Overview of Dubai Safari
Dubai Safari is located in Al Warqa, about 30 minutes from downtown Dubai and Dubai International Airport.
Dubai Safari is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Last entry is at 3pm.
Park Size & Layout
This 119-hectare park is divided into an Arabian Village, Asian Village and African Village – each with animal enclosures, shows and interactive experiences.
Wildlife at Dubai Safari
As a modern zoo, Dubai Safari provides sanctuary to over 2500 animals from all continents. Highlights include:
- African Village – Lions, zebra, gorillas, hippos, crocodiles
- Arabian Village – Arabian oryx, wolves, bears, deer, birds of prey displays
- Asian Village – Tigers, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, reptiles
The park breeding programs help conserve endangered species. Animal enclosures aim to recreate natural habitats with educational talks and feeding times.
Overview of Desert Safari Tours
Desert Safari tours take visitors to the red sand dunes outside Dubai for dune bashing, camel rides and Bedouin-style hospitality.
Most follow this classic itinerary:
Dune Bashing – 4×4 vehicles ride over and down steep sandy slopes for an adrenaline rush. Skilled drivers navigate hair-raising twists and turns before stopping atop a tall dune to watch the sunset.
Camel Ride & Sandboarding – Have a short camel ride. Some tours offer sandboarding – sliding down dunes on a board.
Henna, Hookah & Snacks – Recharge with coffee, tea, soft drinks and fruit. Have intricate henna tattoos painted on hands/feet. Sample shisha tobacco from a shared hookah pipe if desired.
Entertainment & Dinner – Settle into cushions under twinkling lights for a barbecue dinner and lively cultural shows like Tanoura spinning and belly dancing.
Stargazing & Camping – Gaze at clear starry skies. Some overnight variations allow visitors to sleep in luxury camps. VIP and private tours also available.
Wildlife on Desert Safaris
Given the arid desert location, most desert safaris won’t spot exotic animals like Dubai Safari. But visitors may catch glimpses of camels roaming freely or Gazelles hiding in the dunes. Falcons and other birdlife may also be seen.
How To Choose Between Dubai Safari & Desert Safari
When deciding between Dubai’s two popular wildlife experiences, consider these key points:
- Dubai Safari entry starts from 200 AED ($55 USD) for adults, 150 AED ($41 USD) for kids over 3 years old.
- Classic desert safaris average 150 AED ($40 USD). Overnight or luxury packages range from 250-800 AED ($68-$218 USD)
Interests & Physical Ability
- Those wanting to see diverse exotic animals in comfortable conditions may prefer Dubai Safari Park.
- Adventure seekers who enjoy dune bashing and cultural immersion are better suited to desert safaris. Most require some physical ability to ride camels and vehicles.
Time in Dubai
- Dubai Safari offers a full day out to cover the whole park.
- Desert safaris run 5-6 hours for evening tours. Overnights allow more time at campsites.
- Dubai Safari has a fixed format. Visitors explore at their own pace but activities are limited to scheduled talks, shows and experiences.
- Many desert safari tours allow custom add-ons like overnight camping, private family-focused tours, photography packages and more.
Booking Dubai Safari & Desert Safari Tours
Book tickets directly online via the park website. Only digital tickets are sold – print at home or show on your mobile device.
Ticket packages include:
- Basic – Park entry only
- Classic – Entry + snake/alligator show
- Wild – Entry, shows + lion feeding views
Desert Safari Tours
Many reputable operators offer Desert Safari deals. Prices start from $30 USD. Look for companies with modern vehicles, safety procedures and responsible animal practices. Read recent reviews.
Top Desert Safari providers include:
- Platinum Heritage
- Arabian Adventures
- Desert Safari Dubai
- Rayna Tours
Compare packages as inclusions vary between operators. Many offer hotel pickups/drop-offs for convenience.
Key Takeaways – Dubai Safari VS Desert Safari
- Dubai Safari is a modern zoo and wildlife park split into global villages housing over 2500 exotic animals.
- Desert Safaris involve 4WD trips into the dunes surrounding Dubai for dune bashing, camel rides and Bedouin-style hospitality at camps.
- Dubai Safari suits wildlife lovers wanting to see species from around the world. Desert Safaris appeal more to adventure travelers.
- Both options provide cultural immersion and memorable wildlife encounters tailored to different interests and budgets.
Dubai Safari Park and desert safari tours showcase the Emirate’s captivating desert landscapes and exotic creatures in very different ways. Wildlife fans find animals from across the globe at Dubai Safari exhibited across detailed ecosystems. Adventure seekers prefer a touch of adrenaline with dune bashing before experiencing Bedouin traditions of camel rides, henna and campfire hospitality. Groups and families can discover the contrast between modern Dubai skyscrapers and raw desert beauty. With options from budget-friendly to luxury packages, comparing these two quintessential Dubai experiences helps travelers choose the best match for their interests, time frame and budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where is Dubai Safari located?
Dubai Safari is in Al Warqa, around 30 minutes drive from central Dubai and Dubai International Airport.
- What are Dubai Safari opening times and ticket prices?
Dubai Safari opens daily from 9am to 5pm, with last entry at 3pm. Ticket prices start from 200 AED ($55 USD) for adults and 150 AED ($41 USD) for children over age 3.
- What animals can I see at Dubai Safari?
Dubai Safari houses over 2500 mammals, birds and reptiles from Arabia, Africa and Asia. Highlights include lions, tigers, gorillas, rhinos, giraffes and more.
- What is included in a classic desert safari tour?
Classic desert safari tours include dune bashing, camel rides, henna tattoos, shisha smoking, barbecue dinner and live entertainment for around 150 AED ($40 USD)
- How much physical ability do desert safaris need?
Most desert safaris involve climbing on camel saddles and into 4WDs, so require basic fitness. But many operators can accommodate limited mobility. Always check before booking.
- Should I book Dubai Safari tickets online or at the gate?
Dubai Safari only sells digital tickets on their website. Print at home or show your voucher on your mobile device. No physical tickets are sold on-site.
- What should I wear and bring to Dubai Desert Safari?
Light clothing, closed shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen and camera are recommended for desert safaris. Some tours provide hats and water.
- Why choose Platinum Heritage desert safaris?
Multi award-winning Platinum Heritage safaris earn rave reviews for knowledge guides, responsible practices and modern 4WD fleet navigating dunes responsibly.
- Can I do Dubai Safari and a Desert Safari on one trip?
Yes! Dubai Safari makes an educational wildlife day tour, while desert safaris promise adventure later in the afternoon and evening.
- Does Dubai Safari offer any package deals or discounts?
Yes, Dubai Safari offers combo deals for additional shows, or Wild Explorer packages covering meals, upgrades and more. Discounts available for seniors, students, children, and people with special needs.
- Can kids enjoy desert safari tours?
Yes, many desert safaris cater well for kids with family friendly camps, entertainment options, and even Kids Club add-ons at some sites. Camel rides are often suitable for ages 4 plus.
- Is it better to do a morning or evening desert safari?
Evening tours allowing watching sunset vistas are most popular as daytime heat can be intense. But some operators offer morning safaris before temperatures peak.
- Do I need a 4WD or SUV for desert safari tour pickups?
No, standard sedans or small vehicles are fine as tours use specialized 4WD transports for dune bashing. Hotels, homes or attractions can often arrange pickups too.
- Should I tip my desert safari guide and drivers?
If you receive good service, tips are appreciated. Many sources suggest 30-40 AED ($10-$15 USD) per visitor split between drivers and guides is suitable.
- Is Dubai Safari suitable for senior travelers?
Yes, Dubai Safari has accessible paths, resting places and transport like trains and buggies. Discounts are offered plus walking aids can be borrowed. Early entry helps avoid biggest crowds.
- Can I still see animals in Dubai’s summer heat?
Yes, Dubai Safari cools enclosures and provides plenty of shade and water. Desert safari tours run in evenings when heat has subsided. But always use caution in the UAE summer.
- Do I need vaccinations or travel insurance for Dubai safaris?
No vaccinations are mandatory. But check tetanus boosters are up to date. Consider travel cover for cancellations or activities. Medical care is excellent quality but fees apply to visitors.
- Are food, transportation and activities included in Dubai Safari tickets?
No, tickets only include entry and standard shows/talks. Dining, transportation around the park, upgrades and activities come at extra cost.
- Can I drink alcohol on Dubai desert safari tours?
No, alcohol is strictly prohibited on desert excursions as tours enter ‘dry’ areas away from licensed venues. But mocktails and soft drinks are offered.
- Is Dubai Safari wheelchair and disability friendly?
Yes, Dubai Safari has wheelchair/disabled access options, dedicated viewing areas, discounts and accessible restrooms. Contact visitor services ahead to arrange required assistance.