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What is the difference between standard and premium desert safari?

Going on a desert safari is one of the most popular activities for tourists visiting Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. A desert safari allows visitors to experience the vast sandy landscapes and desert life of the region. There are two main types of desert safaris on offer – standard and premium. This article outlines the key differences between standard and premium desert safari experiences.

What is the difference between standard and premium desert safari?

Difference in Activities

The main difference between standard and premium desert safaris is the range of activities included.

Standard desert safaris typically include:

  • Dune bashing – an exhilarating 4×4 drive over sand dunes
  • Camel riding – a short camel ride for photo opportunities
  • Sandboarding – sliding down sand dunes on a board
  • Sunset views
  • Buffet dinner and entertainment show

Premium desert safaris provide a more comprehensive desert experience:

  • Dune bashing
  • Camel riding
  • Sandboarding
  • Sunset views
  • Buffet dinner and entertainment show
  • Additional activities such as:
  • Quad biking through the desert
  • Cultural shows e.g. Tanoura dance performances
  • Henna painting
  • Stargazing through telescopes
  • Falconry displays
  • Fire shows
  • Alcoholic beverages

So while the core activities like dune bashing, camel riding and dinner are common to both, premium safaris offer a longer and more diverse range of desert experiences to enjoy.

Difference in Quality

As well as more activities, premium desert safaris provide a higher quality experience overall:

  • Smaller tour groups, meaning less crowded and more personalized tours
  • Hotel pickup and dropoff in luxury 4×4 vehicles
  • Modern dune buggies for dune bashing equipped with roll cages and safety harnesses
  • Well-trained multilingual safari guides
  • Top-quality photo and video equipment provided
  • Lavish buffet meals with wider cuisine variety and premium beverages
  • Entertainment shows feature professional performers and costumes
  • Access to private desert conservation areas with pristine dunes

The premium safaris allow visitors to experience the desert in greater safety, comfort and style.

Difference in Price

Due to the higher quality vehicles, activities, meals and guides – premium desert safaris have a higher price point. Pricing can vary by operator, group size and add-on options, but typical costs are:

  • Standard desert safari – AED 150-250 per adult
  • Premium desert safari – AED 350-500+ per adult

So visitors need to decide if their budget allows for the premium experience or if the standard safari meets their needs. Solo travelers usually pay a slight surcharge on top of group rates for both tour types.

Booking in Advance

another key difference is premium desert safaris require booking at least 24-48 hours in advance whereas standard safaris can be booked on the day. This earlier booking allows the premium operators to plan transportation, guides and customized options. Payments need to be made upfront once premium safari bookings are confirmed.

Difference in Operators

There are many reputable desert safari operators in Dubai, but the premium safari companies need to be booked directly rather than via third parties. These official operators have specially customized vehicles, access to exclusive desert areas, professionally trained guides and ability to arrange add-on features like falconry.

Some top premium desert safari operators to consider are:

  • Platinum Heritage
  • Arabian Adventures
  • Balloon Adventures Emirates
  • Xclusive Tourism

These niche companies focus specifically on premium desert experiences. For standard desert safari options, there are dozens of authorized agents and tour resellers across Dubai who can arrange bookings.

Key Takeaways

  • Premium desert safaris include extra activities and higher quality vehicles, guides and meals – they provide a longer and more personalized desert experience.
  • Premium safaris have smaller tour groups and can access exclusive desert conservation areas.
  • You need to book premium safaris further in advance and directly with official operators.
  • Premium desert safaris cost roughly double the standard safari price due to the add-ons.
  • Both tour types offer the classic Arabian desert activities like dune bashing, camel rides and entertainment shows.


To summarize, premium desert safaris give visitors to Dubai a highly tailored Arabian desert experience with extra activities, exclusive vehicle access and professional guides. The premium quality and service comes at a higher price point so tourists need to decide if the premium features warrant the spend compared to a standard group safari. Either tour choice allows experiencing iconic desert landscapes and life in a safe environment. By understanding the key differences in advance, visitors can select their ideal desert safari option when coming to Dubai.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What extra activities do premium desert safaris offer?
    Typical premium desert safari extra activities include quad biking, cultural shows, henna painting, stargazing, falconry, fire shows and alcoholic drinks. More niche add-ons are available via some operators.
  2. Does every premium safari include all activities?
    While premium operators offer a wide range of activities, your specific tour inclusions can vary based on the company, price paid, group size and custom options selected. Confirm all activities at the time of premium desert safari booking.
  3. Are premium desert safaris safe for kids?
    Yes, premium safaris have stringent safety policies especially for children including vehicle harness seatbelts, child-sized dune buggies, certified child lifeguards and kids entertainment. Confirm age/height rules at time of booking.
  4. Can pregnant women go on premium desert safaris?
    Yes pregnant women can safely enjoy premium desert safaris but should avoid certain activities like dune bashing or quad biking. Operators can tailor the experience avoiding risky pursuits. Book pregnancy-safe tours in advance.
  5. Do premium desert safaris pick up from all Dubai hotels?
    Nearly all premium operators offer hotel pickups and dropoffs from major Dubai districts but confirm this at the time of booking. More remote hotels might require meeting a central point or paying a small surcharge.
  6. Why book premium desert safaris directly?
    Booking directly with official premium tour operators ensures proper customization for add-ons like falconry, guarantees experienced guides, and confirms exclusive desert access rather than via unknown third parties
  7. How much extra are premium desert safaris?
    A premium desert safari costs roughly AED 350-500+ per adult compared to AED 150-250 for a standard group option – so around double the price. Custom or niche private tours can cost higher.
  8. Which is best – morning, evening or overnight safari?
    Evening safaris allow seeing sunset views which most travelers prefer. But morning tours avoid daytime desert heat. Overnight safaris allow extended stargazing. Choose based on your needs and tour activity timing.
  9. What should I wear for premium desert safaris?
    Light, loose breathable clothing plus covered shoes, hat and sunglasses. Bring layers for when the desert gets cooler at night. Many premium operators provide robes, slippers etc but confirm at booking.
  10. Can vegetarians attend the buffet dinner?
    Yes, premium safari buffet dinners cater to all dietary choices including quality vegetarian and vegan options. Inform your dietary needs when booking.
  11. Will premium safaris get cancelled due to weather?
    UAE deserts rarely see rain but occasional high winds or sandstorms might lead to last minute tour route changes or cancellations as safety precaution, though refunds are provided.
  12. Can I take my own vehicle/bike instead of arranged transport?
    No – all premium desert safari visitors must use vehicles provided by the operators for route access reasons and guides. Camels, horses or other animal transportation is also prohibited.
  13. How many passengers go on each premium vehicle?
    Premium safari tour groups average 6-12 guests per modern dune buggy though private or custom tours might take just 2-4 per vehicle. Larger 26+ seater buses are never used unlike standard budget safaris.
  14. What kind of photographs can be taken on safaris?
    Great wildlife, camel, horse riding and desert dune photos are possible. Some cultural village / show areas prohibit cameras so check site rules. Professional photographers can also be booked via some premium operators.
  15. Can visitors bring their own food and alcohol?
    All food/drink is provided on premium desert safaris as part of the fee so external items are prohibited. Many premium packages allow alcohol purchases onsite once confirm legal age. Independent catering interferes with this.

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