Today was a very chilled day, and I liked it. I woke up a little later this morning. Went through my pictures from the first few days to pick some for the blog. Then I decided to go back to the Dubai Mall for lunch. I figured it would be good to get back and have a better look at the Burj Khalifa since I’m going to be at the top of it tomorrow morning for sunrise. Also, there are so many options for lunch there, I wouldn’t have a problem finding something.
The Burj Khalifa really is an impressive structure. Over 130 stories high, and it is a very cool looking building. Well done Dubai. I grabbed some lunch and then walked around the mall a bit more before heading back to the hotel for about 2pm. The tour company said they would pick me up for the desert tour any time between 3pm and 4pm. Of course, they picked me up at 4:15pm, so I had a long time sitting in the lobby waiting for them.
The tour company I went with is called The Desert Gate, and they were excellent. The driver picked me up in a brand new Toyota Landcruiser, and there were already two ladies in the car. I expected we would be a bigger group, but it ended up being just the three of us. Pam and Trisha were two lovely women from Boston who were just stopping in Dubai on their way to hike Ana Purna in Nepal. How cool is that??
It makes such a difference on these tours if you have good people in your group, and I got really lucky on this tour. Pam and Trisha were great. We chatted for the 45 minutes it took to get out to the desert. We then stopped at the edge of the desert to take some pictures and wait for the rest of the Desert Gate cars to show up. We then started a 4×4 caravan through the desert for about a half-hour which was really cool. I was a little jealous that these drivers get to do this for a job. After driving around in the dunes for a while we showed up at the camp for our company, which was a lot nicer than I expected it to be.
This is a semi-permanent camp with nice bathrooms and everything. The first activity they had there was falconing, so we got to see a couple of falcons with their trainer and see how they used to be used for hunting. Then they gave everyone the opportunity for a short camel ride (really just long enough to get your picture taken on one), and then it was time to get in the camp for the shows and dinner.
Each car had their own table so the ladies and I had great seats (pillows on the ground) right next to the stage. There was a group of men doing traditional Emirati dances, then a whirling dervish dancer, then a belly dancer. In the middle of this you could smoke hookah, get henna tattoos, get your picture taken in their traditional garb, and get food.
The food started out with a shawarma station, and then a full buffet opened up. The food was excellent. Once the entertainment was all finished they ushered us back out to our cars at about 8:30pm and we headed back to Dubai. It was a great experience and I will recommend Desert Gate to anyone I know going to Dubai. Now it’s time for bed because I’m getting up at 4:30am tomorrow to go to Burj Khalifa for sunrise!