Our Toyota 4x4 is perched over a precipice and it looks like we are about to fall into an abyss of sand. Finally the car drops over the ledge and we zoom down a steep incline then back up a big dune again. But I can barely hear myself think because B is laughing so hard.
Our desert adventure starts with a brief visit to a camel farm, where we have a chance to meet a few new friends as our drivers remove some air from the tires to allow better traction on the sand. Large groups of 4x4s travel in convoys to ensure there is always assistance nearby if a vehicle gets stuck. Next we stop at a cluster of immaculately perfect sand dunes, where B had a blast climbing and trying to slide down!
After getting pockets full of sand, and about 45 minutes of mild dune bashing, the sun has set and we arrive at the 'camp.' Long low tables are lined up on huge carpets and we settle onto our comfy cushions. After stuffing ourselves full of delicious Middle Eastern finger foods, we dive into the BBQ buffet with an extensive offering of grilled meats, salads, veggies, tabouli and hummus. (There was also a special 'kids' buffet tucked into a corner, serving hamburgers and other items which might be appealing to pickier kids.)
Filled to the brim and teetering on our cushions, the exotic music begins and out comes a belly dancer. Cheesy? Sure. Fun? You bet!!!
I wondered how B would cope getting back to bed so late past his bedtime (we arrived back at around 10:30 pm) but he did just fine. He napped all the way back to our lodgings, giggled when he saw how much sand came off him in the bath, and went to sleep in the wink of an eye.
Depending on the tour company, vehicles will take between 4 and 6 passengers. Being a group of 4, we were sure to get a private vehicle to ensure nobody's fun was spoiled by asking the driver for a calm ride. But driving through the desert will have its bumps no matter how cautious the driver, so it is imperative to have a car seat for young children.
By law in Dubai, children under 6 years of age must ride in a car seat. I highly recommend taking your own car seat, or rent one from a company like http://www.rentacrib.ae/index.htm. Several tour companies will offer to supply car seats for their tours, however we found the seats unsuitable for B's age and weight, and that is if one is actually provided. (Twice, we booked a car seat for transfers but they were not supplied.)