The St. Regis Saadiyat Island was beautiful. There is a ton to do in the UAE’s capital city of Abu Dhabi. There is Ferrari world, a Ferrari theme park where you can even drive a Ferrari convertible around the F1 course with an instructor. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the UAE. Many people go to see the Emirates Palace, which is Abu Dhabi’s most luxurious hotel. We only had about 48 hours, so after making a list of activities in Abu Dhabi, we decided to just do a desert excursion.
There were countless options for desert excursions including an overnight in the desert to really immerse you in the Bedouin culture. We opted for the shortest tour to give us time to possibly do one of the other touristy activities I listed above. We were picked up from our hotel at about 7:30 AM. From there we picked up an American couple from New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus and an Australian man from an apartment in downtown Abu Dhabi. The tour included a stop at a camel farm, dune bashing (off-roading through the desert), sand boarding, and a camel ride.
The camel farm was about 45 minutes from Abu Dhabi, but it went quickly because Thad and I were chatting with the American couple. Once we got to the camel farm we were able to take pictures and feed the camels. I don’t recall ever hearing a camel make noise before visiting the camel farm, and they sure were noisy.
After the camel farm was dune bashing. We drove through the desert sliding up and down the dunes for about thirty minutes. Since I haven’t really gone off-roading before it was a pretty exciting ride. I also felt very safe the entire time, we found out our driver does the same tour twice a day, seven days a week, so he had plenty of experience. There a couple of stops along the way to take pictures and during one stop Thad attempted to create a sand angel for Mal… FYI sand and a sweaty body do not mix.
Next, we reached a small compound where we would do the sand boarding and camel rides. The boards for sand boarding were old snowboards. I was the first to grab one run up the dune and try to slide down. It was much harder to turn on the sand than in snow, but I made it to the bottom of the hill, and fell over getting sand everywhere. Each of us rode down the hill a couple times and got a great leg workout because an uphill sand climb is no easy task.
Finally, it was time to fulfill our Arabian dreams and ride a camel. Since we had a fairly small group they only brought out one camel. We did a lap around the compound, which lasted about 10 minutes. I almost fell off when the camel was bending down because I misunderstood what the guide was saying to do with my hands, but I managed to hold on. Everyone napped on the way back to the hotels, the heat and sun really take it out of you.
The rest of our time in Abu Dhabi was spent on the beach or near the pool at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island. We opted to forego Ferrari world and the Grand Mosque because they were about a half hour away and we didn’t feel like spending more time in cars than we had to. Our desert excursion experience was fun and exciting and would recommend Emirates Tours and Safaris to anyone visiting the UAE. If I were to go back I would love to do the evening tour where you can ride a camel at sunset and experience traditional foods, music and dance of the Emirate people. There are so many activities in Abu Dhabi that you can’t do everything in just 2 days. Set aside a week and you should be able to see everything you want to in Dubai and Abu Dhabi!
If you had more time than we did in Abu Dhabi then you should try and visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is huge, made out of all white marble and truly beautiful.
If you are more of a thrill seeker, then you should put Ferrari World on your list of Activities in Abu Dhabi. You can have the chance to drive some of the fastest, most expensive cars in the world around Abu Dhabi’s F1 circuit!
Our trip to the Middle East was quick, but we managed to see and do a lot. Next up will be Thad’s review of Alitalia Business Class and my reviews of the Etihad Premium lounge and Etihad’s First Class Apartment. I’m currently on a plane to San Diego where we will be staying at the US Grant hotel. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and twitter @passports2life. Follow Thad on Instagram @lathad!