The desert has always been a place filled with curiosity and wonder. It’s a vast and empty land that calls out to those who seek adventure and the unknown. On a recent trip to the Middle East, this blog includes information on places to visit, visa requirements, air ticket costs, travel and hotel expenses, additional costs, the delicious local cuisine, the unique desert lifestyle, essential items for the journey, and extra experiences.
Places to visit:
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: Our journey began in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a pristine natural sanctuary showcasing the beauty of the desert. We explored its rolling dunes, spotted wildlife, and enjoyed breathtaking sunsets.
Liwa Oasis: Out Next stop was the stunning Liwa Oasis, located in the Empty Quarter (Rub’ al Khali), where we witnessed towering dunes and stayed in a luxurious desert resort.
Wahiba Sands: For a taste of the Arabian Peninsula’s diversity, we visited Wahiba Sands in Oman, known for its contrasting red and white sands and vibrant Bedouin culture.
Wadi Rum: Jordan’s Wadi Rum, often called the Valley of the Moon, was another highlight. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts dramatic sandstone mountains, red desert landscapes, and ancient petroglyphs.
Most visitors will need a tourist visa to enter the Middle Eastern countries. Visa requirements and processes may vary by nationality and the country you plan to visit. Check with the respective embassies or use an online visa service to get the most up-to-date information.
Costs and Fees
Air Ticket Fees:
Airfare for a trip to the Middle East can vary greatly depending on your departure location and the time of year. Booking well in advance and being flexible with your travel dates can help you find more affordable flights. Expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,500 for a round-trip ticket.
The travel costs for a desert safari can be quite diverse. In general, a basic 3-day safari package will cost around $300 to $600 per person, including transportation, guided tours, and some meals. However, for a more luxurious experience, such as private tours or stays in high-end desert resorts, you could spend upwards of $2,000 per person.
Accommodations during your desert safari can vary. In the desert, you can stay in camps or lodges, which typically cost between $50 and $200 per night. For more upscale experiences in desert resorts, be prepared to pay $300 or more per night.
There are additional costs to consider, such as activities like dune bashing, camel rides, and quad biking, which range from $20 to $100 per activity. Souvenirs and tips for guides and drivers should also be factored in, roughly an additional $100 to $200.
Food & Lifestyle
Shawrma: A delicious dish made by roasting seasoned slices of meat (often chicken, lamb, or beef) on a vertical rotisserie. The succulent, thinly sliced meat is typically served in a pita or flatbread, accompanied by garlic sauce, vegetables, and sometimes tahini.
Hummus: A creamy and savory spread made from blended chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, hummus is a Middle Eastern classic. It’s commonly served as a dip with pita bread, fresh vegetables, or as a side dish.
Biryani: While not strictly a Middle Eastern dish, biryani is widely appreciated in the region. It’s a flavorful and fragrant rice dish cooked with aromatic spices, meat (usually chicken, lamb, or goat), and sometimes vegetables. The Middle Eastern version might have its own unique twist.
Fresh Dates: The Middle East is famous for its delicious and sweet varieties of dates. Try them fresh or dried, as they make for a healthy and tasty snack, often paired with Arabic coffee.
Traditional Teas: Enjoy a cup of traditional Middle Eastern teas like mint tea or cardamom-infused tea. The hot beverages are not only refreshing but also a great way to experience the local culture.
Shisha: To truly immerse yourself in the Middle Eastern desert experience, don’t forget to try shisha, also known as hookah or waterpipe. Savoring flavored tobacco or herbal mixtures while lounging under the desert stars is a memorable part of the cultural experience.
The desert lifestyle is a unique experience. It’s a departure from the modern world, where you’ll live in harmony with the environment. You’ll discover the nomadic Bedouin culture, learn about their traditions, and sleep in traditional-style tents. The simple, serene life in the desert fosters a deep connection with nature.
- Sun Protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat are essential to shielding yourself from the sun’s harsh rays.
- Water: Stay hydrated, as desert climates can be extremely dry. Carry a refillable water bottle.
- Comfortable Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for the desert environment.
- Camera and Binoculars: Capture the mesmerizing landscapes and the unique flora and fauna you encounter.
- Cash: While most places accept credit cards, having some local currency on hand is always a good idea.
- Quad Biking: Thrilling rides on powerful quad bikes through desert dunes
- Fat Biking: Riding all-terrain bicycles on the sand for fun and exercise
- Falconry: Experiencing the ancient sport of using trained falcons for hunting
- Desert Camping: Spending a night in the desert, ranging from basic to luxurious setups
- Desert Dinners: Enjoying traditional Arabian cuisine and entertainment under the stars
- Cultural Experiences: Learning about the local Bedouin culture and visiting their villages
- Desert Wildlife Encounters: Spotting desert wildlife like gazelles, oryx, and desert foxes
- Desert Photography: Capturing the unique desert landscapes and sunsets
- Hot Springs and Oases: Visiting natural hot springs and lush oases in the desert
- Stargazing Tours: Exploring the night sky with minimal light pollution in the desert
- Desert Yoga and Meditation: Finding Serenity through Guided Yoga and Meditation Sessions
A desert safari is an extraordinary adventure that immerses you in the heart of the desert, taking you on a journey through remarkable landscapes, cultures, and experiences. From the towering dunes of Dubai to the otherworldly landscapes of Wadi Rum, the desert holds a beauty that captivates the soul.
So, if you’re ready for a unique and transformative journey, pack your bags and head into the desert. An adventure of a lifetime awaits.