The Best Abu Dhabi Desert Safaris

Last Updated on August 1, 2023

Abu Dhabi is a lovely city with plenty to see and do, and a must on any Abu Dhabi itinerary is to take a desert safari tour. Taking an Abu Dhabi desert safari is a truly bucket list-worthy adventure that any traveler would be thrilled to have. But, with the vast array of options from which to choose, the decision of which tour(s) to pick can be overwhelming! 

The first step you’ll need to take to start planning the adventure of a lifetime is to determine what it is you want to see or do on your Abu Dhabi desert safari. Do you want to ride camels? Go dune-bashing? Have a picnic beneath the starry skies of the Abu Dhabi desert? Catch a desert sunset? Take some stunning photographs? Thankfully, there is a tour to suit every need – and usually, Abu Dhabi desert safaris include more than one of these activities! 

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We’ve broken down a basic guide on how to choose the best Abu Dhabi desert safari, as well as some frequently asked questions that travelers generally have when they begin planning such an adventure. 

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Best Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Options

These are our top picks for the different types of Desert safaris available as well as the best guided tours currently available. We’ve included a little bit of everything, so you’re sure to find something to suit your needs and interests.

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Please note: Tours that involve dune-bashing may not be suitable for pregnant women or babies under three years of age depending on the tour. Be sure to double check with the tour operator before booking your tickets.

Abu Dhabi Sunrise Desert Safari

Are you an early riser who loves the fresh beginnings and new possibilities that appear every time the sun comes up? An Abu Dhabi sunrise desert safari tour is perfect for you. Sunrise desert safaris are also a great option if you don’t fare well in the heat and want to beat the midday sun (and the crowds!). Be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before and hydrate well before bed!

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This Sunrise Abu Dhabi Desert Safari takes you on a morning adventure, complete with a visit to a camel farm, camel riding, dune-bashing, sand boarding, and more photo opportunities than you can count. The Al-Khatim desert is truly a sight to behold, particularly during the golden hours of early morning. 

Approximate Cost: Starting at $85 USD per person

Length of Tour: 4 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, cash for gratuities.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: This tour requires two things to take place – proper weather and a minimum number of travelers. In the event of inclement weather or the minimum group size is not met, you will be offered either an alternative date or a full refund. This tour is not recommended for people with mobility issues.

Abu Dhabi Half Day Desert Safari

A half day safari is perfect for those who either don’t want to get too much sun, or who have other things to do on their Abu Dhabi itinerary. You should know that, although many of the Abu Dhabi desert safari tours don’t market themselves as half-day tours, they usually aren’t longer than 6 hours regardless. Check the tour duration to be sure.

This half-day Abu Dhabi desert safari takes you on an epic adventure by 4×4 through the desert, culminating in a lovely desert BBQ. Vegetarian options are available upon request. 

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You can expect fun-filled activities such as dune-bashing, camel riding, a treat of fresh dates and Arabic coffee, henna tattoos, sand boarding, and a belly dance show! Seriously, we’re not sure you could pack any more activities into a 6 hour window!

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Approximate Cost: Starting at $79 USD per person

Length of Tour: 6 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, cash for gratuities.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: Some of the activities may not be included in the price of the tour (such as quad bike). This tour is not recommended for people with mobility issues.

Abu Dhabi Evening Desert Safari

An evening desert safari in Abu Dhabi is the perfect cap to a day exploring Abu Dhabi. After you’re done exploring all of the sights, attractions, and best Instagram spots in Abu Dhabi, you can embark on a swoon-worthy Arabian adventure through the desert that ends with what is surely one of the most magnificent starry skies you’ve ever seen.

This evening Abu Dhabi desert safari is the perfect option after a busy day. You’ll leave the city mid-afternoon, taking your vehicle through the sand dunes of the desert before stopping at a camel farm where you can go for a short camel ride, perfect for photos during the sunset.

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Next, you’ll set off towards a traditional Arabic desert camp, where you’ll have the opportunity to try henna painting, belly dancing, sand skiing, and shisha, a traditional Arabic pipe. You’ll also be showered with traditional Bedouin sweets and coffees from the locals.

Finally, you’ll enjoy a scrumptious feast of traditional Arabic BBQ under a starlit sky, complete with entertainment. 

Approximate Cost: Starting at $68 USD per person

Length of Tour: 5 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, lightweight clothes, cash for gratuities.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users or people with mobility limitations. 

Abu Dhabi Full Day Desert Safari

There are not too many full day Abu Dhabi desert safari tours available, but you can always opt for one that’s longer in duration than the others if you’re looking to spend more time in the desert. This is due to a couple of different reasons – at certain times of day, the sun in the desert can be too unbearable for those of us who aren’t accustomed to it. The desert sun is also very draining and exhausting, so a full day tour would likely be too much for the average tour participant. 

This full-day Abu Dhabi desert safari isn’t quite a full day at only 8 hours (2 hours longer than the standard tour). Still, you get to experience quite a bit more than if you opt for a 6 hour tour.

The day starts with a myriad of desert adventure activities. Enjoy the adrenaline rush you’ll undoubtedly feel with dune-bashing and sand boarding while traditional Bedouin entertainment plays in the background. 

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You also have the opportunity to experience henna painting, shisha, camel rides, and more.

The best part about this tour is that photography comes with the package! So you can select some of your favorite photos as souvenirs, all-inclusive. 

Finish the day with a buffet dinner, with both carnivorous and vegetarian options available. 

Approximate Cost: Starting at $70.75 USD per person

Length of Tour: 8 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sun hat, comfortable shoes, sunglasses, lightweight clothing, cash for gratuities. 

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: This tour is not wheelchair accessible. It is not suitable for people with back problems or heart conditions.

Abu Dhabi Overnight Desert Safari

If you ask us, we think this is the ultimate experience for your Abu Dhabi desert safari! Having the opportunity to spend the night in such an environment is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get the best of both worlds with an overnight desert safari – the quiet before the sun rises in the morning, the beautiful starry sky at night, and everything in between. You also have the opportunity to check out any nocturnal desert critters that may come out at night! 

This overnight Abu Dhabi desert safari ticks all of the boxes. You get to enjoy all of the typical desert adventures that come along with an Abu Dhabi desert safari with the added bonus of sleeping under the stars in a desert camp. Enjoy extreme dune-bashing, camel riding and a visit to a camel farm, henna painting, shisha, a bonfire, with breakfast and dinner included. Quad bikes cost extra if you’d like to try those!

Approximate Cost: Starting at $149 USD per person

Length of Tour: 17 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, change of clothes, comfortable shoes, pajamas, cash for gratuities.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: Certain forms of entertainment, such as alcoholic beverages or Tanoura dance shows, are not permitted during Islamic holidays as per the local law. This tour is not recommended for people with mobility issues.

Private Desert Safari Abu Dhabi

Though private tours are undoubtedly more costly, they can be a great option for those who are introverted and only want to have the desert safari experience with people with whom they are familiar. Sometimes, traveling can be exhausting and it can be equally as exhausting to make new friends! There’s no shame in wanting a special experience to be shared with just your loved ones. That’s what’s so great about these private tours!

This private Abu Dhabi desert safari tour is an excellent option to have a sacred morning in the desert with those you are closest with (and your expert guide, of course). You’ll get to enjoy the typical desert safari activities, such as sand skiing, camel riding, dune-bashing, photo shoot, and tea with dates. Lunch or breakfast is available upon request for an extra cost. You can also rent quad bikes if you wish!

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This private tour is surprisingly inexpensive, if you have 6 people to go with. If you have less than 6 people, the tour is more expensive per person.

Approximate Cost: Starting at $250 USD per group (up to 6 people)

Length of Tour: 4.5 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, cash for gratuities, comfortable shoes.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: This tour is not designed for people with mobility issues.

Looking for more luxury in Abu Dhabi? Check out the Venetian-inspired Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Resort!

City Tour & Desert Safari Abu Dhabi

If you want a full day planned without the hassle of having to work out the logistics on your own, a great option would be to take one of the combination city-desert safari tours that are offered. This is perfect for anyone who wants to sit back and relax while someone else does the planning.

This city tour & Abu Dhabi desert safari combo brings the best of both worlds. In addition to the desert safari experience, which includes virtually everything you can imagine that’s offered on desert safari tours, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience the best sights and attractions from Abu Dhabi, including the stunning Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque. You’ll also get to visit Heritage Village for a little taste of traditional Bedouin culture, as well as both Yas Island and Saadiyat Island. Stop for photos at Emirates Palace, followed by a leisurely walk through the dates market.

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You’ll have time to rest at your accommodation before the desert portion of the tour, which may be the best part about this. It’s not often a tour allows you the chance to wash up and recharge midday!

In the desert, you’ll enjoy a 30-minute dune-bashing session, henna painting, shisha smoking, photo opportunities in traditional Arabic clothes (complete with a falcon!), sand boarding, camel riding, and an Arabic BBQ buffet (vegetarian options available).

Approximate Cost: Starting at $147 USD per person

Length of Tour: 10 hours

What to Bring: Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, cash for gratuities.

Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes

Know Before You Go: Since you will be visiting the Mosque, you must be sure you’re dressed/covered appropriately. Women must cover their arms, legs, and heads in the Mosque (and no transparent clothing is permitted, even if it covers your limbs). This tour is not recommended for people with mobility issues.

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Frequently Asked Questions

Not sure what to expect on an Abu Dhabi desert safari? We have the answers you are looking for!

How Much Does a Desert Safari Cost in Abu Dhabi?

A desert safari is a great way to experience the beauty of the Arabian Desert. However, before you book a tour, it is important to know how much it will cost.

The price of a desert safari can vary depending on the company you book with and the length of the tour. However, most tours will cost between $50 and $100 USD per person. Expect to pay as little as $140 USD per person for an overnight Abu Dhabi desert safari.

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If you want to add extras such as camel riding or dune buggy rides, there may be additional fees, but usually these are included in the cost of a tour. Quad bikes are almost always an additional cost for any tour.

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When booking a desert safari, be sure to ask about any discounts or deals that may be available. You may be able to find a cheaper rate if you book in advance or during certain times of the year.

Which Desert is Better: Abu Dhabi or Dubai?

If you’re looking for a desert safari experience, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai offer great options. However, there are some key differences between them that may sway your decision.

Abu Dhabi’s desert for safaris is far more vast. This means that there’s plenty of space to explore, and you’re likely to see a wider variety of wildlife than you would in Dubai.

The climate in Abu Dhabi is also generally cooler than in Dubai, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to escape the heat. However, this does mean that sandstorms are more common in Abu Dhabi.

Find out which destination is best for you: Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi

Dubai, on the other hand, offers a more cosmopolitan desert safari experience. The downside of Dubai is that it can be quite crowded, and you may not have as much space to yourself as you would in Abu Dhabi.

You’ll be able to ride camels, go sandboarding, and experience the true beauty of the desert in both deserts.

So, which is better? It really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a more cosmopolitan desert safari experience, go for Dubai. However, if you’re looking for a more authentic experience with plenty of space to explore with a milder climate, Abu Dhabi is the better option.

Where is the Abu Dhabi Desert?

Al-Khatim desert is the main location for Abu Dhabi desert safari tours. It covers an area of approximately 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) and is one of the largest deserts in the country, located in the southeastern region. Oman sits to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south. 

The Al-Khatim Desert is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including reptiles, mammals, and birds. The desert has a variety of landscapes, including sand dunes, gravel plains, and salt flats. There are also some oasis areas where date palms and other vegetation grow.

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The desert has a hot, arid climate with very little rainfall. Temperatures can reach up to 50 C (122 F) in the midst of summer. Rainfall is very rare, averaging less than 50 millimeters (2 inches) per year.

The Al-Khatim Desert is an amazing place to visit and explore. With its unique landscape and wildlife, it is an experience that you will never forget.

How Far is the Desert from Abu Dhabi?

The Al Khatim desert is located approximately 100 km (62 miles) from Abu Dhabi. It takes approximately two hours to drive there.

What is Dune-Bashing?

Dune-bashing is a form of off-roading that involves driving over sand dunes. This activity is typically done in desert areas, where there are large expanses of sand dunes. Dune-bashing can be a fun and exciting way to explore the desert, but it is important to be aware of the dangers involved.

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Dune-bashing is a popular pastime in desert areas around the world. Though it can be dangerous, many people find the thrill of driving over sand dunes to be well worth the risk. If you’re considering trying dune-bashing, make sure to take all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Wear proper clothing and safety gear, and bring plenty of water and supplies (your guide will supply everything you need for a safe dune-bashing experience on your Abu Dhabi desert safari).

What is the Best Time for a Desert Safari?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the weather in Abu Dhabi can be quite variable and unpredictable. However, in general, the best time of year to go on a desert safari is from November to March. This is because the temperatures are cooler during this period and allow for more comfort during your Abu Dhabi desert safari. Remember to pack appropriate clothing for your safari, regardless of what time of year you go, particularly if you opt for an overnight safari.

Abu Dhabi Desert Safari Summary

Have you been on a desert safari in Abu Dhabi? What did you think? As you can see, there are plenty of different types to choose from if you haven’t had the experience yet! Whether you want to experience the desert overnight, enjoy an evening under the stars, or take in a beautiful sunrise, there’s a perfect safari for everyone.

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