What You'll Find in This Post
- Desert Safari with Kids
- Why go on a Desert Safari with your children?
- How many days for Desert Safari?
- Best Desert Safari – Dubai or Abu Dhabi
- Day 1: Pick Up from Abu Dhabi & Arrival at Arabian Village Nights
- Day 2: Sandboarding, Pool time, Dune Bashing on Sand Dunes
- Day 3: Free Time & Departure
- Best Things to Do in Desert with Kids
- Price & Overall Cost
- UAE Trip Itinerary
- Places to Stay in Dubai
- Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi
- UAE Insider Tips:
Desert Safari with Kids
If you are considering going on a Dubai desert safari with kids but aren’t exactly sure what things there are to do at a desert resort, where to go, if it’s safe or if kids can go; then you have found the right post! Lots of information included below to help you sort through all the details to plan your families United Arab Emirates (UAE) desert safari. Dubai or Abu Dhabi can be great jumping-off spots where you can book a Dubai desert safari from.
A desert safari is one of our recommended best things to do in Dubai with kids! Hands down a highlight of UAE for our family.
Why go on a Desert Safari with your children?
On our 1-year travel adventure, we wanted to experience and visit a middle eastern country. We just didn’t know which one should be our first, but we decided on the United Arab Emirates, and so happy we did. We absolutely loved the UAE with our kids. After booking our flight to Dubai, I wanted to find a 2-day desert safari experience that would be kid-friendly and check so many of those desert experiences off our bucket list. We wanted to get outside the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and go see what the Arabian desert was all about. Camel riding, dune bashing, sandboarding and so much more! Children of all ages will love what a Desert safari has to offer – a once in a lifetime experience to share as a family together.
How many days for Desert Safari?
If you are short on time or want to really condense many things into a weekend or a couple of days my suggestion would be to book with a desert resort or tour operator and let them handle the details. It was super easy, stress-free, safe, relaxing and worth every dollar spent to have this organized tour. There are lots of choices that can either be catered from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to get the best desert safari deal. You could make it work with just one night, but for us, we figured it would be too quick for our kids to drive there and back in less than 24 hrs.
Best Desert Safari – Dubai or Abu Dhabi
We decided to go with Arabian Village Nights resort and would highly recommend for a family (or really ANYONE, we were the only ones with kids there). We chose to go for 2 nights and here is an overview of what you could expect to do with your family over those days in the desert.
Day 1: Pick Up from Abu Dhabi & Arrival at Arabian Village Nights
- The resort will arrange with you to pick up at a certain location and time (usually mid-day). Either with a bus or we had a personal Land Cruiser 4×4 for our family, just depends on the number of people coming out of the resort that afternoon.
- You will drive from approximately 1 hour through the Arabian Desert. The drive alone was amazing as you leave the skyscrapers of the cities and go the remoteness of the desert!
- Check-in is easy, escorted to your traditional “bayts” – based on traditional Bedouin buildings, but has all modern-day luxury amenities inside. Then you get a bit of time to freshen up before your fun begins.
- Finally time for a camel ride! They have camels just outside the resort where you can go for a short camel ride which is the perfect amount of time for the kids. A host will help you and walk with you. This was honestly a great intro to riding a camel for our kids. Camels are really tall, and it can be a bit intimidating for little kids, but this was perfect and our kids had the best time.
- We then went off-roading with a guide in search of the perfect spot to watch the sunset. And we found it! Perched up top a sand dune, in the middle of what seems to be nowhere, we watched the ever-lasting sunset change the colours of the sky into a dancing variety of colours. I didn’t want it to end, it was absolutely stunning evening desert safari.
- In the main common area, you will be invited to share in an Arabian evening of entertainment. With a food variety of local delicacies and sit amongst new friends while enjoying supper. Afterwards, evening entertainment includes belly dancers, swordsman, and henna tattoos. They did have a selection of food that suited kids taste too.
Day 2: Sandboarding, Pool time, Dune Bashing on Sand Dunes
- We absolutely had a blast trying to sandboard and so much fun. Easily walk towards the back of the resort and just on the outside, there is a massive sand dune that you can hike up and try your best at sandboarding. So much fun! Full of sand and took some falls which didn’t hurt at all. Bring lots of water as the heat will melt you and will need to stay hydrated. We actually took our time and went out a couple of times doing this since it was so much fun. Expect to have shoes full of sand and sand everywhere after this, but so worth it!
- Time to cool off after all the sandboarding and in the middle of the day the best spot for us and the kids to cool off. They have an amazing oasis of a pool with lounge chairs, tables covered from the sun. We spent a few hours in the pool, playing cards and relaxing in the middle of the desert. Great way to spend a few hours.
- This evening we went for the full-on dune bashing with our driver. This is when you are in an SUV (Land Cruiser or Jeep) and you literally drive up and down the sand dunes in the middle of the desert. No roads, just an experienced driver having the most fun with us. Our driver was amazing and always kept checking in on the kids to make sure they were ok, not scared or getting car sick. It can get a bit intense if you are not used to it but felt completely safe the entire time. Just a little adrenaline flowing through the veins! I would totally sign up for this fun again. The kids giggle and laughed the entire time, and one of the best experiences we had in the desert. These drivers know their stuff and so much fun! Afterwards, you will once again have the chance to see the amazing desert sunset!
- Amongst our dune bashing, the driver took us to a traditional Camel farm in the desert. We learned about camel racing, how some still have traditions about gifting camels, how camels are raised and even got to taste camel milk. Not the kids favourite, but they tried it out. The kids loved seeing the babies, petting some of them and seeing camels in the desert!
Day 3: Free Time & Departure
The morning is free for your choice of activities either riding camels, sandboarding, swimming, there is also ATV and quads that you can take around the area too. Breakfast is ready during their morning hours and allows some free time to get your things gathered.
Departure is usually mid-day which can take you back into a pre-arranged location in Abu Dhabi.
Best Things to Do in Desert with Kids
- Ride a camel
- Dune Bashing
- Visit a camel farm
- Watch a desert sunset
- Enjoy some traditional entertainment like belly dancing, swordsmanship and henna tattoos
- Cool off from the heat at the pool
Price & Overall Cost
We went in September which is (I believe) their shoulder tourist season. We were the only ones that spent 2 nights there, while most other guests only came for 1 night.
The overall cost for 2 nights was AED 5,000 (~$1725 CDN) which included a 1 bedroom suite for 4 people, transportation there and back to Abu Dhabi, all food and all activities. The price for us was worth the experiences, activities, tours, transportation and food on the resort for two days. To break it down it was ~ $215 / person for each day. Which considering all that it includes we thought it was a good deal. Don’t get me wrong though, it was a treat on our 1-year travel budget, but in our eyes well worth the money spent.
Regardless of the place you choose for your UAE desert safari, I would suggest to try and ensure the above things to do with the family would be included. Look for a resort that is kid-friendly and not adult-only resorts. Resorts or tours that can cater to little ones would provide the best experience for the family and our time at Arabian Nights Village we would recommend to any family looking to experience a desert holiday.
UAE Trip Itinerary
- Dubai – 5 nights
- Abu Dhabi – 3 nights
- Desert Safari – 2 nights
- Abu Dhabi – 1 night
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Arabian desert are all within a couple of hours’ drive of each other so you can adjust your itinerary to work what’s best for you. We had our flight into Dubai and out from Abu Dhabi which is why our booking was schedule as we had it. All can be flexible and work with how you want to arrange it.
I would suggest to book your Desert Safari first and then arrange your flights, and other bookings in Abu Dhabi and/or Dubai afterwards. There are so many things to do in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so be sure to book a couple of days in each of your travels (more posts coming soon to share all this info with you).
Places to Stay in Dubai
We stayed at an Airbnb on the Plam Jumeriah which was great since it was attached to a hotel and we were able to have all the amenities of a hotel (like the beach, pool, restaurants, etc) but still have our own laundry and more space.
If you are more into looking for hotels, check out some hotel deals below if that works better for you instead.Booking.com
Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi
In Abu Dhabi we stayed at the Marriot World Trade Center hotel for 2 nights, we mostly need to stay in a hotel to get a lot of paperwork printed off before we headed down to South Africa. We also stayed at Yas Island Rotana hotel for a quick overnight stay before our flight out. I would highly recommend both for any stay. Yas Island may be more suited if you are going to be checking out more things to do on Yas Island.Booking.com Booking.com
UAE Insider Tips:
- Arabian Village Nights resort did not have tv or wi-fi and our cell coverage was not available or very limited. So expect to be off the grid for a few days.
- We stayed in a 1 bedroom suite with our family of four.
- You could also drive out the resort too if you didn’t want to be picked up, but it is suggested you have a 4×4 vehicle to get there.
- Check the age restrictions on activities or kids – they should have them on their website, if not email to clarify.
- Don’t forget international travel insurance. We use World Nomads for our family travel insurance. You can read our ENTIRE review of World Nomads that we used for travel insurance here.
- Next time on our list would be to go see camel racing, it wasn’t the season when we were there but would have been cool to go check out.
- Desert camping in Dubai is on our list next time – to be able to sleep under a tent and camel trek to and from base camp in on our list. This would also give us the option to have a desert safari morning when we wake up
- Women to dress respectfully – Being that you are at a resort, the dress is more relaxed but I still was respectful. Ie. I wore knee-length leggings, usually had my shoulders covered, and wore a beach cover-up when poolside. I did wear my most modest bikini at the pool. There are no written rules, I just tried to be respectful. Kids were fine wearing anything – short, tank tops, etc.
- More information about Dubai and Abu Dhabi can be found on their tourism site – Visit Dubai, and Visit Abu Dhabi.
We travelled to the United Arab Emirates from September 25 – 27, 2017 and was one of our highlights for the year. The kids were ages 5 & 7.
We were not compensated in any way from the resort, we chose this resort based on research and are happy to recommend it based on our own experience for other families.