Today was Desert Safari – pickup was around 3:30 – 4 pm, lots of time in the day to keep the three ladies happy with a visit to the Dubai Outlet mall.
But first was breakfast and for that we needed to get up ! The jet leg was hitting me today and our sleep patterns were all out of wack, me and Nita were up at around 4am. Then I nodded off again around 5. Kids slept through but getting up was proving difficult. (It was not until the morning of the 13th that I was able to sleep continually post 6am).
Managed to get ourselves down to the buffet just past 9am.
The buffet looked nice, got our table and then we realised we were missing Pooja! Nita was “where did she go, she was right here with us!!!”, finally spotted her – she was already at the buffet getting her Pancakes! the stark difference from the last vacation, kids were no longer needing handholding for everything, they were now looking after themselves more (still more would be welcome ).
Now to head over to the Dubai outlet mall, be warned it is 30 min ride by Taxi from our hotel. Arrived there around 10am, place was still very very emtpy and stores were only just opening. Lots of stores but there seemed to be no real bargains, was normal prices! Made a round of the place and was not impressed by it at all. Would rather spend this time at the bigger malls. Ladies were over this place and around 11 am we took a taxi to the Mall of Emirates.
Recommendation: Avoid the Dubai Outlet Mall
Arrived at the Mall of Emirates just before midday, the second biggest mall in here after Dubai mall. Now this place was buzzing.
Ladies were having a good time roaming about, fashion shops and Sephora. Pooja was loving the winter jackets with the furs and trying on new things for kicks! I was like, that is not for Brisbane weather – NOT GETTING IT!
It was close to 1pm, time to get some lunch, could not go past PF Changs – fell in love with that place during our US visit in 2015. Ordered some amazing Sushi (cannot remember the name ), fried rice and Chicken Kung Pau. The mains were good, but when compared with the amazing food we had at Buddha bar, this was not quite up to it! Still a good lunch.
(Travel tip: make sure to have a good lunch on the desert safari days, the night safari BBQ food is not that great!)
Headed back to the hotel, for our Desert safari pickup. Quick freshen up and down to the lobby. Had booked our safari with Rayna Tours, car arrived a bit late, post 4pm, now the long drive out of Dubai to the meeting point.
It is amazing to see the vast level of construction still taking place in Dubai. Pooja was still perplexed with sand being everywhere – this is a desert after all!
Got to the meeting point, chance for a quick water break. Nita opted for the fresh Coconut water.
The local vendors were trying to sell me Keffiyeh (the arabian head cloth). Tried it on as did Neha and Pooja – it looked great! Time for some price haggling, was able to get it to well below half of what he had started with.
Now we were ready for the Arabian desert!
Back in the 4wd, drove a further 5 mins, to switch to another driver and car – apparently our driver did not have license to go into the desert and these guys used specialist drivers who simply drove around in the desert.
Could tell this car was more for the Safari, it had internal roll bars – just incase!! Everyone was asked to put on the seat belts, got Neha seated in front, that was the best view for her VLOG.
Safari ride was great! Lots of bumps, slides, the car being at some crazy angles – we were rolling, and then at the last moment the car seems to take control again !! It was an amazing experience, Neha and Pooja absolutely loved it.
There was a short stop over for some quick pics in the desert – unfortunately these guys now seem to commercialised and not the same personal touch, it was out for some very quick snaps then back in the car again – this is a big let down and voting down Rayna Tours for that!
It was then off to the Desert Camp for some Camel riding, dinner and shows.
The camp was big, with lots of areas for pics, henna – which Pooja directly went to, food stalls, shisha bars and lots more. Shows were nice followed by dinner and belly dance. Food was not that great – as expected, but other than that, the camp was not too bad.
Overall it was not the same feel as what we had 11 years back, this was now much more commercialised! Highlight was the sand bashing in the 4WD, kids absolutely loved it!Would I recommend Rayna tours – most likely not.