Dubai desert: how to visit with baby and toddlers?

Are you going to Dubai and want to visit the desert with your baby and young children? Yes, it is possible, and I will explain you everything so you can live this amazing experience!

The desert and all the magic that surrounds it are one of the highlights of a stay in Dubai.

To leave Dubai without feeling the hot sand under your bare feet. Or play on the dunes. Or watch the sun set under the silence of this mysterious sea. It would be to give up one of the most beautiful experiences of all.

It was a new experience for us and so full of emotion and expectations.

However, when we travel with small children or even babies, sometimes what may seem very simple ends us requiring a little more organization. Yes, I say a little more organization because few things are impossible for us during our family trips. Even with a baby!

We therefore looked for solutions adapted to our expectations and specific needs as a large family. Visiting the desert with our baby and children really was a priority for us.

If it is a bucket list experience for you too, here are the 3 ways to visit the desert with a baby that we tried in Dubai.

1.    Organized Desert Safaris

The offer is vast, and the simple truth is that Organized Desert Safaris are undoubtedly the simplest way to visit the desert.

The offers are quite complete and include many activities such as

  • slides on the dunes in a 4×4,
  • buggy adventures,
  • sandboarding,
  • camel rides (which we have not done and do not recommend!)
  • a meal
  • and an evening show.
baby playing in the desert sand while a jeep pass on the horizon

The biggest difficulty with this solution is that most organized tours are not suitable for young children. Even less so for babies.

You’ll quickly notice that even those that are so-called “kids friendly” are only so up to a certain point, or from a certain age.

Even though all desert safari organizers advertise themselves as family-friendly, it’s not exactly the full truth!

What they don’t say right away is that if your children are under 6 years old usually you cannot join the convoys. They will invite you to book a private tour, which is often overpriced.

Nevertheless, an organized safari was the solution we chose to visit the desert with our baby and toddlers for the first time. I’ll tell you everything.

Our experience

The operator we found finally agreed to take us on a group excursion. While adapting the speed to our needs, of course. But it was in a very particular setting.

  1. It was the group leader who agreed to take us with him. Thanks to his great experience he was able to accompany the convoy while adapting his route in the dunes to our needs.
  2. We did it during the pandemic, at the period of declining tourist activity. Today I cannot guarantee that he would be just as accommodating.

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However, our experience has shown us that this remains entirely possible.

I strongly advise you to contact the operator in advance. Emphasize the fact that you are traveling with a baby and clearly indicate the children’s ages.

In any case, never forget that in the middle of the desert the journey will never be very slow and relaxed. This remains true even in tailor-made safaris is you choose to go to the dunes.

Driving on the dunes requires a certain speed, without which cars quickly find themselves stuck in the sand. It will always have “agitations” even when driving as gently as possible.

Here are the contact details of our operator and the type of program we have chosen:

Desert Safari Tours

  • Selected tour: The Evening Desert Safari with BBQ dinner.
  • 1340AED (325€) for the five of us

The Luxury option

For an Eco Luxury Desert Safari you have Platinum Heritage.

It’s likely that you’ve already heard of them. They are undoubtedly the best known operator in Dubai. Very present on social media too.

So, they were our first choice for visiting the desert with our baby. We were convinced that it would be a magical experience for our children.

However, they did not accept us in the main convoy because our children were still very young. Our only option was a private tour worth 3900AED (950€). Unfortunately overpriced for us and completely out of our budget. The standard convoy would have cost around 1685AED (410€).

We found them not very family friendly. Not at all consistent with their image on social media.

Indeed, the reason they presented for not accepting us in the standard convoy was not related to security. They simply assume that children will disturb other guests and therefore they simply refuse reservations from families with young kids.

In all cases, their ecological approach is commendable, and the experiences offered are undoubtedly cool. Or so it seems on social media.

I couldn’t just move on and close this chapter without telling you about them.

But I advise you to contact them in advance. You might be luckier than us! 😊

Other operators

Not all tourist operators can access the perimeter of the desert nature reserve, such as Platinum Heritage.

They are certified operators and committed to ecological and conservation practices.

Here you will find all official operators with access to Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

two white oryx eating in the Dubai desert Conservation Reserve

2.    Stay or Day Use in a Desert Resort

For the less adventurous, families with new-borns or if you simply want to relax, then this solution is for you.

For a day (or two or three) you can relax in the shade of the palm trees of an oasis, in the middle of the desert. Enjoy a magnificent view of the dunes and the camels slowly passing in the distance. Cocktail in hand by the pool.

You also have the possibility of only having lunch or dinner in one of these Resorts. Almost all offer the possibility of making a reservation for the restaurant or bar only. This can obviously depend on the season and the occupancy rate of the hotel. Never hesitate to call them before going there, especially if you are traveling with young children.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

We chose to spend an afternoon at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. We recommend it without hesitation.

Barely an hour’s drive from the city of Dubai, Bab Al Shams offers an idyllic setting in the desert.

With a relaxed and very kids-friendly atmosphere, this hotel will transport you directly into the tales of the Arabian Nights.

We were welcomed by the onyxes which were roaming freely throughout the surrounding area close to the resort. An exotic and magical experience.

This solution will allow you to spend quality time in the desert or its surroundings with all the support that a hotel can offer (restaurant, toilets and changing rooms, activities for children, etc.). What can be more comfortable and safer for a first visit to the sea of sand.

A great advantage of this way of visiting the desert is the varied range of prices and therefore the possibility of more easily finding a solution adapted to our budget.

Here is an idea of the costs of the different options. These values may vary depending on the dates (season, holidays, etc.) but this will already give you an idea.

  • Stay – count around 750 – 1350 AED (180 – 330€) / night for a room for two adults and a child.
  • Day Use – values vary from 250 – 550 AED / adult and 125 – 275AED / child aged 4 -11 years.
  • Lunch – allow around 25 – 35€ / person for starter – main course – dessert

Our suggestions of Desert Resorts

While we recommend Bab Al Shams because we were able to enjoy the experience for ourselves, there is a very varied offering of this type of Desert Resorts in the UAE. For all types of stays (families, adults only, etc.) and all budgets of course.

DESERT RESORTS IN DUBAI

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Al Wathba, Luxury Collection Dubai Desert
Telal Resort Al AinDubai Desert

3.    Like the locals

The desert has always been part of Emiratis life.

While the great development along the coast might lead us to believe that the Emirates are turning their back on the desert, the truth is that the dunes still hold an immense power of attraction and respect for these people.

A place of learning, serenity and leisure, the desert is a frequent destination for many Dubai families. For a picnic, a barbecue or simply to enjoy the sunset while the children slide on the dunes.

Going to the desert by ourselves, without schedules, in total freedom is a magical experience, like no other.

An experience that marks us forever. It’s almost addictive. Without a doubt our favourite way to visit the desert with our baby and young children.

We have done this several times. Admiring the sunset in the desert, in silence (or almost, if you have children, you know what I mean!) is something extraordinary! And we advise you to do it at least once in your live!

We have identified a quiet place, which we can visit in safety, and with very easy access. No need for 4×4. You can simply park the car on the side of the road.

Unobstructed view of the dunes, magical sunset in the warm sand. Pure happiness.

I leave you the coordinates for this little piece of paradise:

25°02’12.8″N 55°44’23.7″E (Google Maps)

But never forget! The desert is a very special place that even those who grew up in its presence sometimes have difficulty understanding.

Best practices for visiting the desert.

There are therefore a few points that must be respected to go to the desert alone in complete safety.

1. Always avoid times when temperatures are higher.

Between October and May, after 10 a.m. and before 4 p.m. it is best to stay in town or by the pool. During the summer you should avoid the desert for a wider period. Or even forget this experience. A good way to check the most recommended times is to contact a safari operator and ask for information regarding the times of the activities offered for the morning and evening! You should stick to these periods.

2. Always have water (plenty and very cold) with you.

Staying well hydrated is key to visit the desert in a healthy and secure way. If you don’t have water with you just don’t go.

3. Never stray too far from the road.

It is difficult to measure distances in the desert, where visual reference points can be rare. It is also difficult to measure the physical effort associated with walking on sand. Be careful. There are lots of beautiful dunes not far from the road. Enough to have fun and have a good time without taking any risks.

4. That’s not because you have a 4×4 car that it means you can/should drive on the dunes.

This type of driving requires technique and experience. It is not by chance that most safaris are done in convoy even if the guides have great experience.

With these few precautions, this experience will be one of the most beautiful you will have in life. One of those moments you will never forget! I promise you!

The most beautiful experience

Visiting the desert is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful experiences we had as a family.

The silence, the immensity that surrounds us, the feeling of freedom.

And the sunset in the desert? Can we talk about it ?

You know, I could go to the desert a thousand times, I don’t think I would ever be able to express in words the emotion it procures me.

I would definitely say you must experience it to really understand the magic!

And the best part is that you don’t have to wait for your children to grow up to live this magical experience with your family!

Do you feel ready for the desert?

mom and baby playing in the Dubai desert under the full moon

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