Ever seen a desert safari advertised for Dh35? And then come across another one for Dh350? Khaleej Times finds out why some safaris cost more than others.
“The main difference stems from the quality of the camps and the length of the drive through the desert,” said Fawaz bin Abdul Khader from Raptor Team Tourism. “For a decent desert safari experience, people must be ready to spend at least Dhs. 125 to 150.”
Additionally, the mode of pick up also differs as the price decreases. “The higher paying customers are usually picked up with a 4×4,” said Fawaz. “A lower paying customer is picked up by a bus or van. They are usually picked up later in the day as their drive through the desert is very short.”
A higher paying customer enjoys 45 minutes to an hour of dune bashing through the desert. “They really get to enjoy the dunes and experience the thrill of it,” said Vivek Menon from Deira Travels. “Alternatively, those who pay a very low price are only transported from the road through the desert into the camp, with no experience of dune bashing.”
This ride could be as short as 10 minutes long. “Most people who opt for the cheaper desert safari experience are either tourists who don’t understand the difference between the quality of safaris or those who don’t want any adventure,” said Fawaz.
According to the experts, 90 per cent of all desert safari camps are situated in the same area in Lahbab. “Lower paying customers are usually taken to a camp that is inferior in terms of quality of food and the range of entertainment,” said Fawaz. “If you look at the itinerary, everything like belly dancing and fire dance will be included but they will be for very short duration.”
In some cases, lower paying customers come to the same camp as the higher paying ones. “This happens usually during low demand season,” said Vivek. “In this case, a lot of times the lower paying customers cannot stay for the full length of the entertainment program as they will be dropped off to the return buses first before the vehicles come back to pick up the higher paying clients.”
In addition to this, there are some premium camps that charge in excess of Dhs. 300. “These are the providers of the remaining 10 per cent of camps,” said Fawaz. “They are usually situated close to the Bab Al Shams area. Some of these desert safaris use open jeeps where customers will ride through the desert, spot gazelles and watch the sunset. In some packages which cost about Dh500, there is also an overnight stay included.”
“Usually, you would find that you get value for the money you pay,” said Vivek. “When you pay a higher amount, you get a more immersive desert experience.”