Platinum Heritage Desert Safari

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to go on a desert safari that wasn’t like all the others in Dubai….

Photostory. Details follow.

heritage tour-sand patterns

  1. desert safari
  2. food and drink
  3. falcon show
  4. desert camp
  5. All
  • Love these 1950s Land Rovers. These purring tin kittens are stronger than you'd think

  • Lessons in guttrah tying included.

  • Joyous yellow car for the happy family

  • Very rare herd of elderly Rovers. Protected species.

  • Little boy, big desert.

  • Like a tiny boat in a rolling sea

  • Photography isn't hard. Contrasts are vivid

  • Emotion is found even in dead wood.

  • And hope in living wood.

  • Land shown on the Safari is owned by Sheikh Butti, and borders Al Maha Resort.

  • The native ghaf tree defies odds. Don't let anyone tell you Dubai's desert is totally barren.

  • Sands are picked up by the wind and come marching over the ridges of dunes like billions of flying termites.

  • Oryx are easy to find, gentle, and although they avoid people, are genuinely inquisitive.

  • Or maybe not...

  • Finishing is rustic but perfect and appropriate. Even the garbage bins are pretty.

  • Wasp the Barbary Falcon has enough gumption to take on an A380

  • She sits with her partner Dewa "in the wings" so to speak, as we take our seats on carpets spread in the middle of nowhere.

  • Retationship between Falconer and bird is strong.

  • As are Dewa's wings. He flies at around 100km an hour around our heads, chasing a quail lure.

  • Lure caught, reward provided

  • Dewa got his name because he's a lazy Perigrine Falcon (not common for this breed), who likes to perch on power lines rather than chase prey.

  • A happy accident whilst trying to catch the sunset.

  • Fragrant water from ornamental bottles sprinkled on our hands as we enter the camp.

  • Magic carpets on the sand. The camp is simple, yet not.

  • Cardamom tea warms us as the desert cools under darkness.

  • Glassware glitters in the firelight, as pretty as any chandelier.

  • Tabouleh, kibbeh, hummus and harees for starters

  • Fires burning, smells tempting, stars shining and hearts melting.

  • Ouzi - unearthed after 24 hours on coals in the sands, is moist, gelatinous and moreish.

  • Lgeimats, or lqeimats (local donuts) are gobbled without restraint, satiated with date dhibs

  • Shisha is smoked with abandon. Grape, apple, liquorice and cinnamon nuances filling the air.

  • Highway lights glow in the distance, smaller and further than the stars.

  • It's cold in the morning, we're up before the sun, snuggled in blankets, ambling over dunes or talking over coffee.

  • Alladin's lamp? No. Coffee machine, including grinder.

  • Breakfast is shared with a Bedouin. We eat chick peas, balaleet and pancakes.

  • We drink more cardamom coffee, and our Bedouin tells us his grandfather lived in a tent. But he lives in an air-conditioned villa and owns a million-dollar racehorse.

  • Drystone walls surround the camp, and are already warm with 8am heat.

  • Doors keep the shamals out. Are they antique? Or just weathered?

Platinum Heritage Tours

  • Accommodation Style: Camping in fixed tents
  • Rooms: 3 divided “rooms” within a large communal tent. Sleeps up to 4 per “room”
  • Price: From 395AED ($115US) for safari and meal, from 795AED for overnight including dinner and breakfast (with a Bedouin)
  • Facilities Vehicles: 1950s Land Rovers, in good functioning order. No AC. Camp: shared toilets and showers with running water, electricity. For some Corporate Groups it is possible to go to the Terrace of Al Maha after dinner if they want to finish the night with a drink (paid directly to Al Maha based on consumption)
  • Nature and activities: Protected park on private reserve. Falconry display. Oryx and Gazelle guaranteed. Other smaller animals sometimes seen. At the camp, shisha, campfire, camel rides, dancer or other cultural entertainment, traditional food. Horse riding. Balloon rides.
  • Languages: English, Arabic, Russian, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Perfect for: Family outing to the desert, groups (not the rowdy type)
  • Also not bad for: Romantic breaks (sort of – it’s perfect for cuddling. But remember the PDA rules in Gulf states, and no rumpy pumpy in communal tents), and for nature lovers who can’t afford Al Maha
  • Pros: Seamless running. Just book and all is taken care of – they even pick you up from hotel or home. Much classier than standard “dune bashing” safaris. Excellent falconry exhibition. More traditional Khaleeji influence (rather than levant/persian) which is very appropriate. Great piece of desert with varied textures and colours. Breakfast with a Bedouin was a unique chance to chat with a local one-on-one. Fab ljeimats (dumplings). No scorpions, spiders or snakes (I think…)
  • Cons: A little expensive given the sleeping arrangement. Food good but not amazing. Khaleeji hair dancer was authentic, but the cozy atmosphere would have welcomed storytelling instead. Someone in the next “room” had their blackberry alarm set to 5:45am. Fortunately I saw the sunrise. Unfortunately they did not wake up and turn it off for 15 minutes so I got a grumpy husband.
  • Nearest Airport: Dubai (less than 1hr drive)
  • Bookings: Via websitePhone: 971 (4) 388 4044 or Email: info@platinum-heritage.com. Can also be booked through providers Also a current offer for Mastercard holders

Rating: 9/10*

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Notes:

*A guide to ratings: These take into account the price, quality, service and the facilities, and in effect are a value rating.

  • 0-2/10 = exceptionally overpriced. Avoid at all costs, even if it means travelling to stay elsewhere overnight.
  • 3-5/10 = overpriced in respect to quality. Don’t stay unless there are no other options.
  • 6-7/10 = reasonable value. Check other options in the area just in case, but not a bad choice over-all.
  • 8-9/10= worth seeking out. Great value in respect to the offer, one of if not the best option in the area.
  • 10/10= super place. Stop what you’re doing, book a plane ticket and go there now.

This is the first in an experimental series of posts to see if photo content is as worthwhile as text. I’d love to hear your opinions!

8 Comments

  1. The last time I was at Al Maha I saw one of these Safari’s, its on the to do list next time I have visitors 🙂

    • Oh you must. It’s an incredible experience. 795 AED sounds like quite a lot per person, but it’s not so bad when you consider all your food and drink is included. The kids are still talking about it (they were 595). And I’m happy because I didn’t have to go and get a whole heap of camping gear to satisfy an urge that might only come once!

  2. ramblingtart says:

    What an amazing adventure! 🙂 My brother did something like this and had a marvelous time. 🙂

  3. Looks like fun! Great pics.

  4. btw – I do like the layout – but you know how I’m partial to a pretty set of photos and the “stories” or point of view behind them. 🙂

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