Sunday, May 4, 2008

Day 7: Gee I'm glad I'm riding on a camel

Today was Desert Safari Day! With camels!

We were picked up at a nearby hotel by our safari people. Dave, Deidre, Ashley and I were in one vehicle with a couple from England. Terry, FX, and Kathy were in another vehicle with a family from Poland. We convoyed outside of the city and drove for about an hour to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which was the site of our safari. It was really interesting to watch the city fall away and desert emerge. Once again I was struck by amount of construction in Dubai.

Once inside the reserve, the tires of our vehicles were deflated, and we ventured out into the sand for some dune riding. Our driver took great pleasure in repeatedly sending us up, down, and all around these huge heaps of sand. It was like a giant roller coaster! One Land Rover got stuck along the way and the people inside had to abandon ship...

Our vehicle got semi-stuck at the top of one hill. Fortunately, we were able to back away slowly and take another run at it.

My favourite stop along the way was the Camel Farm! With camels! Lots of camels! There were camels everywhere! They were just walking around for people to look at. This one took off across the yard in search of a snack.

Hehe. Camel toes.

We also saw a real live dung beetle. And a camel carcass. And sand - lots of sand. The sand in this desert is really neat - it has two shades - red and gold.

We ended up at a "traditional" Bedouin camp for 350 people. We were able to ride the camels around the "parking lot", which was also quite enjoyable. It's rather tricky to mount a camel. When they tell you "hold tight and lean back", they really mean it. While Ashley and I were riding, we couldn't help but sing a happy little tune - "gee I'm glad I'm riding on a camel!".

Once inside the camp, we had Arabian tea and dates, following by a very filling buffet meal of Middle Eastern cuisine. There were henna tatoos for all and sheeshah smoking as well. The post-dinner entertainment was belly dancing, followed by exactly five minutes of stargazing. Then it was back into the Land Rovers for the drive back into the city. This time we took the short way out of the desert, with minimal dunerolling. I'm really glad we got to see the desert - I'm not used to seeing so much sand!

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