One thing we cannot recommend highly enough for newcomers to Dubai to experience is the desert.
In stark contrast to the city high-rises, the Dubai desert will give you a refreshing taste of life in the UAE before oil and trade brought rapid development to the coastal towns. It’s also a superb way to connect with nature and spot native Arabian species in their natural habitats, as well as enjoy some traditional Bedouin hospitality and entertainment.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Dubai desert, the most common of which is to join a desert safari. If you want a much deeper experience though, sleeping under the clear moonlit skies, we thoroughly recommend you make time for an overnight camping trip in Dubai.
How do you camp overnight in Dubai?
There are several ways you can camp in the Dubai desert, however, if you are only a short-term visitor to Dubai without the appropriate camping equipment to hand, then the most convenient way is to join an organised overnight desert safari.
We will also explore in this post:
- Luxury Desert Camping in Dubai
- Campings Sites in Dubai for planning your own desert escape
- Dubai desert evening-only safari’s
- The best time to go desert camping in Dubai
Many of our recommendations are provided through ticketing agent Get Your Guide. They are a third party seller with a free cancellation policy up to 24 hours before your activity. If you book anything from our links on this page then we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you – thank you.
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Overnight Desert Camps in Dubai
One of the most unique desert experiences is to actually camp in Dubai overnight under the clear skies of the desert, so rarely interrupted by clouds or haze.
Your typical evening desert safari from Dubai lasts approximately 5 to 7 hours. You will have pick up services to and from your Dubai accommodation and a little taster of everything that is on offer. Unfortunately, these experiences can be rushed and as part of a much larger group.
For a more intimate experience, we suggest you look into an overnight camp instead. These are some reputable companies that offer an overnight desert experience from Dubai:
- Dubai Desert Safari & Gourmet Breakfast – the undisputed champion of Dubai desert luxury is Platinum Heritage. They operate from within the protected Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and their focus on the natural environment, quite different to the usual “dune bashing” style desert safari’s. Accommodation is in simple stone huts with mattress and bedding provided, along with dinner and breakfast of a 5-star standard. (They also offer a package which includes a morning hot air balloon ride)
- Overnight Dubai Desert Safari with BBQ Dinner – not quite of the same luxury but the price tag reflects this too, Orient Tours offer an overnight safari option in addition to an evening only experience in their Bedouin camp. The overnight option allows you to enjoy your evening dinner experience for longer with tanoura dance performance and belly dancing, before retreating to your accommodation – igloo style tens designed for two with mattress and bedding provided.
- Red Dunes & Camel Safari with Overnight camp – another that operates as an add on to their normal evening program. Guests staying overnight at their Al Khayma Desert Camp will enjoy a night desert guide before retreating to their Bedouin-style tent, pillows and blankets provided and morning breakfast included before transferring you back to Dubai.
Luxury Desert Camping in Dubai
If the idea of ACTUAL camping doesn’t particularly float your boat, don’t worry! There are much more luxurious ways you can enjoy the Dubai desert (though they do come with a more substantial price tag).
- Al Maha A Luxury Collection Desert Resort– this is as luxurious as desert camping gets in Dubai with a small and exclusive set up of 42 private tented villas. Sitting inside the Dubai Desert Conservation reserve around 45 minutes from Downtown Dubai, this is one of the most exclusive and unique experiences you can dream of. Definitely one for a romantic or special occasion in Dubai – check pricing here.
- Al Badayer Oasis – Sitting around 40 minutes south of Downtown Dubai, you are technically in the Emirate of Sharjah for this luxurious camping set up. There is a mixture of room and luxury glamping tents available, along with traditional desert experiences on offer – check pricing here.
There are plenty more luxury glamping sites spread around the UAE, we have a detailed guide here to all the best glamping sites and resorts to reach from Dubai.
Campings Sites in Dubai
If you are based in Dubai and have your own camping gear- or access to someone who can lend you the appropriate kit then- by all means, you can find your own patch of sand in Dubai and set up camp.
There are a few sites where you can book designated camping spots with access to a range of facilities including toilets and BBQ pits – you can try Hatta Camping (They also offer a number of glamping options).
Alternative spots for camping in Dubai with a good reputation include:
- Al Qudra Lakes – quite close to the city between Bab al Shams and Seih Al Salam desert this is a great beginner spot as you can 2WD in parts. Though for the same reason can also be very busy and full of party-goers at weekends. You will find it much quite during the week, a beautiful spot for wildlife spotting including swans and flamingos, part of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve.
- Big Red – take the Dubai-Hatta Road towards al Madam. The spot is popular with recreational vehicle enthusiasts so do be care where you set up camp.
More experienced 4×4 drivers may also like to head into neighbouring Emirate Abu Dhabi and the Liwa Desert for some of the country’s most spectacular and challenging dunes.
For a guide to camping spots beyond Dubai emirate, we suggest you check out this great guide to camping spots in the UAE & Northern Oman.
If you are self-camping in Dubai and the UAE, a few really handy pointers to stick to:
- Always let someone know that you are going into the desert, but even better travel in convoy so there is somebody to seek help should you get stuck.
- Bring your own garbage bags. Unfortunately, litter is a problem in popular camping spots – always try to take home more than you brought.
- Carry basic camping equipment with you – think not just 4WD gear but water and firewood. There’s a good guide here what items you should consider for desert camping.
The Dubai desert for an evening
If you’d still like to enjoy the moonlit skies of Dubai – but the thought of sleeping in the desert makes you itchy just thinking about – then maybe an evening desert safari is more to your liking.
A typical desert safari in Dubai can pick you up from your hotel accommodation in Dubai then take you through the rolling sand dunes to a desert camp. Enjoy experiences from camel rides to dune buggies, traditional henna painting and an evening Bedouin meal before being safely transported back to your comfy hotel to shower off!
Some suggested tour companies to try for an evening desert safari:
- Arabian Dune Safari – including pickups, dune bashing, camel ride, henna, sheesha, belly dancing show and dinner.
- Dubai Dunes Desert Dinner Safari – run by Arabain Adventures including pickups, dune drive, camel ride, guided safari, snowboarding, Arabic-style buffet, belly dancing & falconry display.
- Platinum Desert Safari – a far more sedate trip through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in a vintage landrover, a wildlife safari, followed by camel rides, entertainment, falconry display.
- Private Night Safari & Astronomy – for keen desert explorers the focus here is on the beauty of the desert and the night skies. Hotel pickups, 3-course dinner, nighttime wildlife spotting, and astronomy session.
If you are interested in camel trekking and up close camel encounter experiences, there are a few tour options that set off early in the day and you can enjoy Bedouin breakfast & hospitality rather than dinner.
- Dubai morning desert safari in the Dubai Conservation Reserve
- Dubai sunrise camel ride with Bedouin breakfast
Best time to go camping in the Dubai Desert
It goes without saying, Dubai is in an arid desert region and the summer’s get HOT. The camping season really runs from late October through to late April, though it’s most comfortable from November to March.
Luxury tented camps will be air-conditioned, making them accessible for a much greater part of the year (albeit their leisure programs are likely to be curtailed over the hottest months).
Evening-only camps will run throughout the year, but do be prepared for just how hot this can be even at night in the hottest months of the year. Also, all camps are required by law to cut their evening dancing and musical entertainment during the holy month of Ramadan – you can find out when Ramadan falls here.
Whether you’re a curious first-time camper or love to get up close to nature when you travel, Dubai can offer something to please. Research your options well so you know exactly what to expect, and no matter which way you choose to explore the Dubai desert, please always leave it cleaner than you found it – thank you x