Desert safari is one of the most interesting excursions in all countries with desert areas.
And, of course, it is the same in Egypt. For a long time, this trip was on my to-do-travel-list. And finally, this year, during my vacation in Hurghada, I can say desert safari – seen and done.
Originally, the word “safari” means “journey” in the Arabic language, as well as in Swahili, and it is used for different types of journeys. Thanks to the British explorer Richard Francis Burton, famous for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, the word “safari” has been used in the English language at the end of the 1850s. Also, safari is a term for hunting expeditions in Africa.
Today, safari means a tourist journey which includes sightseeing, making photos, observing the wild animals, riding camels, and driving across the desert, as well.
Desert safari: what to expect
This year, because of the actual COVID-19 situation, local agencies made little changes in the trip organization. Generally, the desert safari includes a drive in 4×4 jeeps, quad bikes, and spider car, visit a Bedouin village with barbeque dinner, and the oriental show with belly dancing, the Tannoura dance, and fire performance. Well, that is a real mega desert safari 🙂
For our desert adventure, we chose the local agency Nur travel. The owner Mohamed speaks Serbian excellent. We heard a lot of good reviews about him and the excursions. Besides safari, we went on two more sea excursions, with this agency, all in one week vacation, and we were satisfied.
So… this is how the desert safari looks like…
Quad bike ride
We were picked up at 9h in the morning from our hotel.
Our sand adventure started with a drive in 4×4 jeeps, and we traveled about 20 km to the Sahara Park Hurghada.
First, all participants had a test drive before starting the tour.
And then, the caravan of the red quad bikes started its journey across the desert.
Since I am not a good driver and I wanted to take photos, I asked for a driver on the tour. And I got the test driver. Well, that was a real and crazy ride! Of course, forget about taking photos during the ride, it is not possible!
But, on all excursions, there are photographers who take photos of tourists. At the end of the tours, they ask you if you want to take a CD with video and photos. It is a very nice reminder and souvenir of the safari excursion. Some of these photos and captured moments from the video of the Vesper group you can see in this post, as well. And they did a great job, both photos and video are fantastic.
Driving across the desert
I love the desert, and I really enjoyed the sand ride.
One moment we were at the back of the quad convoy, checking if all participants were well. And in the second we rushed around the quads through the little dunes and sandy paths. You can feel the adrenaline rushing through the veins while the desert sun is burning.
It was the fantastic scene of the quad bikes in a row, surrounded by the sandy dust, and the mountains in the distance…
But most of all, the sense of freedom in the endless desert area is simply unbelievable 🙂
And all the safari tour participants are almost unrecognizable! They all had their heads wrapped in black and white or red and white Bedouin scarves. The eyes were protected with the sunglasses or special ones that you can rent for the ride in the desert, and mandatory helmets on the heads as well.
After about 30 minutes, we came back to the center for a short refresh pause, and continue with the spider ride.
Spider is a type of a desert car.
It is more convenient for driving then quad bikes, but the increased dose of adrenaline is still present.
The sand dust is everywhere.
And the sound of the spider cars is impossible to describe, you have to hear it 🙂
After 10-15 minutes of the drive, we came back to the center.
We continued our journey in jeeps to the Bedouin village, about 25 km away, among the interesting hills of the Hurghada desert.
Visiting the Bedouin village is an opportunity to see how the traditional Bedouin life looks like.
They live in wooden tents and herd camels and goats.
Riding camels is an interesting experience even though it lasted only a few minutes.
Then we saw the process of baking bread on a hot metal sheet. It is made only of three ingredients: water, salt, and flour. The Bedouins use small balls of camel dung to keep a fire going. Since it is grassy and burns constantly, its smoke gives a particular taste to the bread.
So, we tried it and I can say that it was pretty much delicious.
Sitting in colorful pillows, we had a Barbeque dinner and enjoyed the oriental show.
The Tannoura dance, belly dance, and fire show
I have to admit that I was impressed with the Tannoura dance. It is a special dance, associated with Sufism, rituals, and dervishes.
Today it is also performed at the festivals, as the folk or concert dance.
Actually, dervishes are members of the Sufi ascetic order (Muslim mystics), dating from the 12th century. Once they had a vital role in religious, social, and political life in the central Islamic lands. So, during Sufi rituals, dervishes fell in some kind of hypnotic and ecstatic trances, through ritual recitations and physical exertions as whirling and dancing.
The word “tannoura” means “skirt” in Arabic, and it is used for the skirt worn by the men. For example, the Egyptian “tannoura” is a wonderful and colorful skirt.
We watched the fantastic dervish dance probably more than 10 minutes. He was spinning and spinning around…
His skirt was like a whirling disk, making various visual effects and fantastic performance.
After a fascinating dervish dance, we watched a lady – belly dancer.
And of course, the show is not complete without the fire.
A young man made an amazing fire juggling performance in front of our eyes.
At about 18h, when the oriental show was finished, we jumped into jeeps and went back to our hotels.
The sun was going down between the mountains in the distance.
From the other side, the almost full moon was appearing across the desert.
And we were happy and excited about the unusual day, spent in the desert.
Things to know before you go to the desert safari
There are some things you should know before you go to the desert.
♦ Wear light and comfortable clothes, and protect your head.
The temperatures in the desert are very high, even in the spring or in the autumn. So wear something with light colors, pants or shorts, cotton or linen. The scarf around the head is a must-have, you can buy it in shops or in the desert center.
Sunglass is necessary because of the sun’s rays and sand dust. Also, take sun protection cream, because the sun is burning in the desert and you don’t feel it during the ride.
♦ Take comfortable shoes.
Running shoes are the best choice. Forget sandals or flip-flops, it is not good for the safari desert.
♦ Take water with you.
Well, you are in the desert, not in the city where you can go to a shop and buy water. Usually, the excursions include the water. But it is always good to have a bottle of water with you to avoid dehydration and sunstroke.
♦ Desert safari is a guided tour, not a race
Yes, I know, it is desert safari, you are excited, and your adrenaline is high. But you are not in the race and can’t speed over the dunes because you can make accidents and hurt other people or yourself. Also, travel insurance usually doesn’t cover this kind of activity.
♦ The minimum age for driving a quad is 16.
Also, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
♦ Prepare a small amount of money.
You need money to buy a scarf, a CD with photos and videos, and for tips when riding the camels.
Catch the desert moments
Take your mobile or camera to catch the desert scenes during the driving pause for photo shooting, riding the camels, or in the Bedouin village.
It brings back a smile to your face when you watch the photos and remember these desert safari moments.
Desert safari: expectations vs. reality
If you like to spice your vacation days, the desert safari is an excellent choice.
Driving quad bikes and spiders, riding the camels, and feeling of the hot desert wind surrounded by dust is an unforgettable experience. Also, you can choose between a 3-hours desert safari or a mega safari, which lasts almost a whole day.
Maybe you think that there is a little time for riding camels or driving quad bikes or spiders. And I totally agree with you. But then you can book a private trip and try to make your excursion more flexible if it is possible.
In a word, it is interesting to explore the desert, even for a few hours. And I am planning to visit it again 🙂
The endless desert is hiding its secrets.
On the other hand, it is teaching you to appreciate the water, especially when you see the blue haze in the distance. And after a few moments or minutes, you realize that is not water, only a mirage!
But I am sure that desert safari will make you feel more alive and excited because you can experience and taste something new and different.
It is definitely a day to remember.