When visiting Dubai visitors are keen to experience the desert, and Dubai is famous for it’s dune bashing safaris. There is an ever expanding number of tour companies offering packages, mostly similar. Platinum Heritage have been offering a desert experience with a difference for a couple of years now. I decided to join them for a Heritage Dinner Safari.
The booking was simple and efficient via email, and I was given a pick up time. A few minutes before on the day I received a call from our friendly guide with a reminder of my time. The pick up was in a clean and modern Mercedes mini bus; my bus was full with excited tourists. Whatever Platinum Heritage are doing, it’s certainly popular. Our tour guide gave great insight into Dubai as we drove out to the desert; I particularly enjoyed winning to quiz on Dubai attractions – perhaps I should’ve let the others have a go!
You exit the air-conditioned oasis of the minibus on the edge of the conservation reserve. Platinum Heritage are very keen to point out they are the only ones permitted to operate in their section of this reserve; also shared by luxury hotel Al Maha. You are then given the chance to wear a head covering to protect you from the sand and sun of the desert. Once you’ve made yourself look Middle Eastern you are allocated a beautiful 1950’s Land Rover.
There were six people in our jeep, two up front with the driver and four on benches in the back. Safety belts are provided for everyone. Our driver then took us for a ride through the beautiful desert landscape; keep an eye out for the desert wildlife. We stopped to learn about the desert scrub and vegetation; as well as run up a few dunes.
As the sun begins to set you arrive at a small area where an informative and impressive falconry demonstration is performed. Soft drinks and cold towels are provided to freshen up during the show. There were some amazing shots of the falcon and sunset to have, as well as an opportunity to hold the falcon – complete with glove at arms distance!
Once you’ve remounted your Land Rover a sedate drive across the dunes to the camp is undertaken. If you are looking for adrenaline filled, diesel spewing dune bashing look elsewhere; these Land Rovers aren’t cut out for that. In the back of the Land Rover you will feel much more connected to the desert, and much more ready for the feast that awaits in the camp.
The bedouin camp is one of the best I’ve been to. Well constructed and laid out, complete with beautifully clean restroom facilities. An arabic themed buffet, including; meats, salads, dips, spreads and breads is laid on. There are live cooking demonstrations and the opportunity to learn how each dish is made is all included. Vegetarians are surprisingly well catered for, and special attention was paid to a member of the group with a nut intolerance. Alcohol is not provided or welcome on the tour, but there is a vast range of alternatives including water, coca-cola, vimto etc. You can eat and drink as much as you desire, you certainly won’t go hungry. Whilst others are dining and drinking camel rides are provided near the entrance to the camp and henna temporary tattoos are being artistically done beside the arabic coffee station.
Once dining is complete you are welcomed into the shisha area. You are free to smoke away the rest of the night under the stars, whilst watching a beautiful lady perform a hair dance known as ‘Khaleeji’. Once you’ve eaten, smoked and finished looking at the beautiful sky you return to your jeep to meet up with your luxury minibus for the journey back to your hotel.
It’s no doubt that Platinum Heritage offer one of the most cultural and sensitive desert safaris in Dubai. With it’s all inclusive policy (the only extras were the photos or videos; which were offered without pressure) and small group exclusive feel it’s a tourists dream – safe, professional and worry free. I experienced a highly enjoyable night out, with a brilliant guide.