Emirati Diaries #3: Desert Safari

March 20, 2018

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari

UAE is one of the countries within the Arabian Desert, so of course a visit there wouldn’t be complete without a desert safari. I’m typically a do-it-yourself traveler that avoids tour groups. Probably because when I think of them, I picture giant buses and a crowd of overzealous buzzing tourist. So when it came to deciding which company to do the safari with, I made sure to do my research. I can’t have just a good safari, I want the best one out there, ya know?


In doing my research, I primarily relied on TripAdvisor reviews. I also made sure to check on Instagram for tagged photos and stories to see what the experiences looked like. I definitely found a lot of big buses and overcrowded looking safaris, but there’s one company stood out from the rest: Platinum Heritage. What I love about them is not just the premium-ness (is that a word?) of the tour — although I freely admit, the bougie part of my brain loved that they have private options. But what I’m most impressed with is their huge focus on education and sustainability. Not that I had dune bashing as one of my safari requirement, but I had no idea that it could be so damaging to the environment.

Another thing I loved about Platinum Heritage is their use of the vintage land rovers, which made for some for great photo opps. I was mega sad when my doctor told me absolutely no camel ride. I kinda already suspected she would say that, as I imagine falling off of a camel would not be good for anyone let alone pregnant ladies. The vintage land rovers definitely took the sting off of the disappointment. To say they’re cool is a major understatement. Special thanks to my guide Mohammed for taking care in driving on the bumpier parts so I’m more comfortable during the ride.

You can check out a full description of the tour on the Platinum Heritage website, but here are some additional pro-tips from my experience:

  • Sunglasses and sunscreen is a must. So are closed toed shoes. The people I observed who wore sandals inevitably gave up and took them off when walking on the desert. It’s probably also a good idea to avoid shoes with perforations. Hubs had on some Nike Frees and he might as well have worn sandals, because he there was so much sand inside his shoes by the end of the tour.
  • Bring a jacket. The heritage desert safari tour ends at night, which means you will be driving back in a convertible with the cold desert air whipping about you. Not a fun activity to do while wearing a light t-shirt.
  • They will be giving you a shemagh and your guide will help you put them on. Girls get an all black one and guys get a red/white one.
    Plan accordingly if you want to match it to your outifit for photos.
  • Be warned: if you take your shemagh scarf off during the drive, you will get sand in your hair and face since you’re riding a convertible jeep. Not fun.
  • Don’t bother bringing water bottles. They will provide you with an eco-friendly reusable tin bottle, which you can fill up at the beginning of your trip.
  • If you’re taking the desert heritage tour and want a daytime photo with the camels, do it right when you arrive. You won’t have another opportunity to hang with the camels until after the sun sets (I learned this the hard way).
  • Ask your guide aalllll the questions. They are super knowledgeable about the country, the flora and fauna, and more. Don’t be shy!
  • Although the falcon show and dinner is not private, you do have the option of getting a private car. It’s totally your choice but I do think its worth the extra cost. The car seats up to 8, so be prepared to share with that many people if you’re not doing the private option.
  • You’ll be served sparkling date juice during the dusk falcon show. Don’t all mob the bar. Designate a person from the group to be the to be the drink butler while someone saves a seat up front. Trust me it’s worth it: not only do you get the best view but you’ll also be first in line for the falcon photo-opp.
  • Periodically check the site as they post discount codes sometime. When I booked, they had a special for free video (see below). BONUS!
  • There are only two opportunities I can remember of to go to the restroom: once before we left and again during dinner. Plan your restroom breaks accordingly!
  • If you’re really really into privacy, they do have another line of premium tours. It comes with newer, smoother riding, Land Rovers and also includes private dining as well as dining option inside the exclusive Al-Maha resort. I was really tempted but then decided against it since I really wanted to ride on the vintage Land Rovers. Sorry new Land Rovers, you’re just not as cool as the vintage ones.
  • Lastly, please don’t be that jerk tourist that leaves trash in the desert (I found a lone cigarette butt while I was posing for a photo).

 

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
You will be riding one of these very cool 1950’s land rover.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
My guide, Mohammed helping me put on my shemagh.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
The drive passes by a salt lick that’s frequented by the resident oryxes so you’ll be sure to see them during the safari.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
There of course will be desert photo-opp galore during the safari.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
Falcon show is a must, it’s a national symbol after all.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
I’m not one to ever turn down a photo-opp with a falcon.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
Believe it or not, this is just the appetizer.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
My favorite item from the buffet? The camel meat stew (sorry camel).

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
Post dinner activities are getting henna and smoking hookah while watching an Emirati performance. Obviously, this preggo lady picked the latter.

Platinum Heritage Desert Safari
Nighttime camel ride that I sadly couldn’t participate in (womp womp).

 
Looking for more UAE trip guides? Check out my other posts:

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  • Helena Marz March 20, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    This is sooo cool especially touring around the desert and it is the best location for photoshoots! Sounds like you had an amazing time❤️

  • Azanique March 20, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Girl, I’m so jealous of this beautiful place and your fun adventures. Who knew a desert could be fun?

    -xo, Azanique | http://www.lotsofsass.com

  • Kileen March 21, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Omg this looks and sounds like so much fun babe! Totally makes me want to book a spontaneous trip out there right now!

    Kileen
    cute & little

  • Carolyn March 21, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    This looks like such a cool experience! I’m sure a photoshoot in the desert was super fun too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Julia Comil March 21, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Love all these shots!! Your trip sounds so amazing!!!

  • Megan Elliott March 21, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    How amazing is this!? Your tips are sooo good too. I’m dying to go!

  • the eye traveler March 21, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    which drone and camera did you use??! Thanks for the comprehensive guide, hope I’ll be able to use it soon ;p

    • Gita March 22, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I’m not really sure about the drone model as the video was made by Platinum Heritage for me :)

  • Helen March 22, 2018 at 6:29 am

    Desert tours are one of my favourites! Ive been dying to head back over there and hope to at some stage this year!

  • Denise Kokinis March 26, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I remember going on one of these when I lived there, but that was almost 8 years ago (yikes)! Looks quite a bit more fun now! I love all these amazing photos you captured, it looks like you all truly enjoyed! Thanks for giving me a quick blast from the past refresh!

    Denise | Fashion Love Letters