Outdoor escapes: Dubai desert camps and safaris are slowly reopening

Activities such as dining under the stars and dune bashing are now allowed

Nara Escape is welcoming small groups of guests and families every Thursday, Friday and Saturday to enjoy a safari experience. Courtesy of Nara Escape
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Dubai residents looking for an offbeat way to spend their spare time will now have a wealth of activities to choose from, as desert camps in the emirate gradually start to reopen.

The move comes after the announcement of the easing of restrictions on a number of activities from Thursday, June 18.

Desert camps, desert safaris and dune bashing are included in that list, and these are allowed to reopen as long as safety precautions are taken.

Some of the new measures highlighted by the circular include temperature checks, increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection, social distancing and a prohibition on the distribution of information booklets.

Currently, events and celebrations are not permitted, and those with medical conditions are advised to refrain from entering the sites.

In light of the new announcement, a number of organisations offering desert experiences in the emirate are slowly starting to reopen.

Which desert camps are now open?

Nara Escape, which offers guests bespoke and luxury desert experiences in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, was among the first to welcome guests back onto its premises.

“Nara Escape ... [gives] guests the chance to see wildlife such as the oryxes and gazelles,” says founder Stephanie Danial. “The beauty of being in the desert right now is that, because space is so big, social distancing is easy, and it feels safe to be outdoors.”

Nara Escape has reopened with precautions for the safety of its staff and guests. Courtesy Nara Escape

Experiences are taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, between 5.30pm and 9.30pm. This includes a gourmet dinner under the stars, which includes entertainment such as live music from an oud player and a fire show, with prices starting at Dh550 per person.

At the moment, guests cannot stay overnight.

Sonara, its camp-restaurant concept in the middle of the desert, will also only open in September.

Some of the safety procedures Nara Escape has incorporated include having only one family per car (which will be sanitised between every visit), hand sanitisers placed everywhere, temperature checks and face masks.

'Hopefully by the end of the month'

Elsewhere, other Dubai desert camps are considering a partial reopening as they adjust to the new normal.

A representative of Desert Safari Dubai said they plan to restart all activities by the end of the month, but, for now, have only reintroduced the private safari, dune buggy experiences and camel rides.

"Desert Safari Dubai usually has a range of entertainment experiences, from live entertainment and henna painting to outdoor dining. We hope to take stock of the situation and open these activities soon – hopefully by the end of the month," they said in a statement to The National.

On hold for the summer

While it looks like desert experiences are very much set to return, other operators have decided to put things on hold for the summer months.

Platinum Heritage, which has a number of eco-friendly and luxury desert camping experiences, says that it only plans to resume operations on Tuesday, September 1.

“Our guests’ safety is our priority and we are implementing all the requirements regulated by Dubai Tourism and the UAE government,” a company representative said.