Before my trip I set up this blog site to use as a means of keeping a diary of my experiences away, additionally as a tool to keep track of many of my experiences as I explore and experiment with food. For the trip, I needed a ‘category’ title to keep all the posts together. But what should I call it? ‘The Saucy Sampler does Europe’ just didn’t seem to make the grade, I needed a play on words, or something clever, or even some alliteration / assonance action. Holiday? Trip? Vacation? Tour? …..SAFARI! Yes, indeed a safari-like trek around Europe was on the cards and it made perfect sense ….A Saucy Safari. How funny it is then that I come to my last post of the trip and the most apt title for it would be none other than ‘A Saucy Safari’.
Our time in Dubai was short, we spent the first day getting to our hotel, settling in and making the most of the facilities we could pack into one afternoon to relax and unwind. As lovely as it would have been to continue in the same fashion we had to make the most of our time. Day 2 posed many options. When planning our itinerary we had many ideas of what we would like to do. Hubby was keen on the architecture, Miss 8 was up for some fun and for me I had one thing high on the wish list – a camel ride. Maybe it’s just me, but it just makes sense that when going to an Arabic city you can’t possibly leave without taking a ride on one of the nations icons, a camel. Don’t get me wrong, ‘shopping’ was a close second 😉 .
We waited until we got there to sus out what our options were, many tours take quite some time and vary in what they offer, 4WD tours and sand surfing are there for the adrenalin junkies. We talked it over with our Butler and decided an early morning half-day tour was our best option, leaving the afternoon for some shopping time, city touring and checking out ‘Wild Wadi’, the hotel’s water park (yes, The Burj has it’s own water theme park). On returning to our room that first night we went to clarify with the butler our breakfast and travel arrangements for the tour only to discover he had overlooked the need to contact the Concierge to actually make our booking – oops – and bugger!!!! My heart sank, no camel ride? We were so tired we crawled into bed and decided we would sort out our day in the morning.
We had a good sleep in, big luxurious beds were just too good to not stay in. We had our breakfast and Miss 8 was keen for a lot more time at the water park. I was still bummed out about the camel ride and with my ‘never say never’ attitude was determined to make it work, I was pulling out the selfish card. We had driven past buildings, we live in Queensland with water ride parks only hours away ….but Arabian Safaris ….they just don’t happen at home. Our Concierge (an Aussie ex-pat) was awesome making inquiries as to our best options. I still wanted to do some bargain shopping, Miss 8 wanted to go to Wild Wadi, city time was possible ….we had to make it happen!
We found a tour that needed to leave the hotel at 3pm, hmmmm …that’s cutting it a bit fine. 3:30 from a sister-hotel in the city, that could work! We rushed over to the theme park, by the time we got there, got changed, wandered a bit, we only had about half an hour to be there. Miss 8 sulked, she wanted to stay as long as possible. Sorry, selfish mummy has other plans. Hubby was a little put-out his plans to drive around the city taking photos of buildings were now off but I figured he would get over it. We went back to the hotel and had some lunch before catching a cab into the city. We didn’t have much time, less than 2 hours. I got myself some ‘genuine’ designer handbags and we had a wander through the Emirates Mall. At 3:30 our 4WD arrived and we headed off for our safari tour.
Our guide was great, we headed out of the city for about 40 minutes until we reached a large fenced off area (I can’t remember how big, 100s of square kilometres). A National Park of sorts, only 2 animals live within the fence, Antelopes and Camels. A short stop to adjust tyre pressure, we proceeded to a small oasis of palm trees in the sand. We were there for the ‘Falcon Show’. Falcons have been the national emblem of Saudi Arabia for 2000 years. They are valued for their usefulness hunting.
Once they were not around in summer, these days they are often kept in air-conditioned areas and are around all year. With tracking devices they are easily found if lost. The Falcon show gave us a great history of the birds and a flying demonstration, as well as some time to get up close and personal.
Enough about birds though …where’s that camel??
There were about 25 cars for this particular company, we set off in a long convoy over the dunes for an exciting drive in the 4WDs ….it was only now that we were able to lift the spirits of Miss 8, still bummed about the water park, as the tour took on a ‘roller coaster’ like turn. If you suffer motion sickness forget it, things definitely got a bit wild.
Another stop to watch the sunset over the dunes – beautiful! Back in the car for 5 minutes and we reached the ‘camp’ for our evening of entertainment.
These guys know what they are doing, the whole set-up is so well organised. On arrival there they were – our camels! Whilst they are there for some time, twilight was upon us and I very much wanted to have ours before daylight disappeared completely. I knew what to expect, I had experiences camels before, this was something completely new for Miss 8. The carers of the animals were lovely, and whilst you only experienced a short walk, it was a camel ride none-the-less.
Venturing into the park there were the buffets ready to go as well as the bar, photographers, sand artists and henna artists, all surrounding the low tables and cushions and a central stage area.
If ‘Sheesha’ smoking is to your liking there was a lounge area for that too.
Dinner included a range of finger foods before a buffet of traditional Arabian-style curries, salads and rice. Whilst there wasn’t dessert you wouldn’t need it. We were told the trip back was mostly developed road so no need to worry about whether you would see your dinner again later.
It was a great meal, there was something about sitting on the ground and the casual social nature of the dining experience that made it something special. The meal wasn’t without drama though, in the middle of the desert who knows what might drop by, and apparently whilst camels and antelope are the only 2 animals, spiders and scorpions are around too …yikes!!
The evening concluded with a belly dancer performance and star gazing. Whilst belly dancing has its origins in Turkey it was still quite fitting for providing entertainment for the night. It certainly added that ‘Saucy’ touch to our safari and indeed, our evening could definitely be considered a ‘Saucy Safari’.
Was I selfish? Maybe. Did my family mind? No! We all enjoyed every minute of it. For only AU$220 we enjoyed door-to-door transit, the Falcon show, a 4WD expedition, 2 course dinner and drinks, camel rides, henna tattoos and entertainment – WOW! For our last night of the trip and our last night in Dubai it was a very fitting activity to make it all end on a high note.