The Desert Beckons: Lovely Sands, Dunes, Land Cruiser and Belly Dancing Girls
A Thrill: The Beginning
The UAE is one of the best places to visit in the world. It's a tranquil place that is calm and serene. In short, it's a wonderful place to spend a holiday, more so in the months from September to April when the weather is salubrious and cold winds blow across the land.
The first point concerns reaching the UAE. One can fly down to the main airports of the UAE in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi from any corner of the world. They are state of art air terminus with the best all-around infrastructure of transportation, roads, hotel, and markets that match the best in the world. The UAE has a rich cultural heritage and one can immerse himself imbibing this great culture for weeks on end. Obviously one will have to make a choice and in my view, the desert safari is something that will leave an imprint on a tourist's mind for all time in his or her life.
The UAE has undulating mounds of sand dunes. It lies on the edge of the Great Arabian desert and has miles and miles of sand. The essence of a desert safari is to take the visitor through the sand dunes and give him or her a feel of what life is in the hinterland of this state. No visitor will want to miss a desert safari, which these days is conducted on 4 wheel drive SUVs. The most popular is the Toyota Land Cruiser. In days gone by these safari's were conducted on camels, a resilient animal that can survive in the desert.
The Drive Through the Sand
The safari normally commences around noon and lasts till nightfall. All the tourists are picked up from their hotels and taken to a central meeting point. There they are transferred to the 4 wheel SUVs. The vehicle usually used is the Toyota Land Cruiser. Only the petrol model is used.
The drivers are adept at driving through the sand dunes. One must keep himself alert during this drive as the vehicle will negotiate the sand dunes, some of which are steep. Though mishaps are very rare, yet a few seasons back a vehicle turned turtle and a child died. The authorities keep a strict watch and drivers of these vehicles must have a special driving license. The vehicle which I traveled in negotiated the sand dunes with ease. On the way, we also witnessed a breeding farm for camels. This is a wonderful sight and one is reminded of a similar farm in India at Bikaner, maintained by the Border Security Force.
The drive can take anything up to 2 hours and in between the tourists can get down and photograph the sand dunes. The vehicles have drinking water and first aid kits, but all the same, the tourist must remain alert.
The vehicles at the end of the safari will converge to a Bedouin village, replete with a small oasis. Here one can freshen himself or herself and continue with the next part of the program, which includes a sumptuous barbecue dinner and the belly dance.
The Bedouin village is not what it used to be as the modern villages have all facilities. However, it gives a flavor to the visitor of what life would have been decades back. One can also have a camel ride. The Arabian camels are a little less sturdy than the Indian camels, but they are more docile. They are also a little smaller than the Indian camels. You can also drive around in a sand scooter. This requires a special skill but one can easily pick it up.
One can then get ready for the night show. To start with we have a barbeque dinner. This is a lavish spread of meat and chicken items and a normal spread as well. Hard liquor is also served ( but on payment). After the meal, the local dancers will regale the audience with traditional folk dance. After a lull like a build-up to the storm, the last item the belly dance will commence. Here the girl will dance to lilting Arabia music and is something to come and visit from afar. The girls are lovely and may hail from Lebanon or Egypt. They are I understand heavily paid.
After the dance, the safari is over and all disperse. In a few of the camps, there are cottages made of tents and if one really wants to have a better time one can spend a night in these tents. It's a wonderful experience and one will look for an encore later on.