Dubai takes life at a sprint. Despite the heat, and the lure of the infinity pool, this United Arab Emirates State entices visitors to go higher and faster as Kirstie Pelling from The Family Adventure Project discovers…
There’s a moment where I feel sure I am about to catapult over the camel’s neck. One hump or two, there’s not much to clutch when they bend those knees and heave themselves up, up and away. But this rollercoaster feeling is all part of the experience. Because a night in the desert isn’t all lonely sands and Lawrence of Arabia calm; it’s hold on to your seats.
We begin by bashing the dunes in a convoy of 4×4 vehicles. Our driver Shereef immediately heads to the edge of a steep sandy ridge and drives straight downhill. As we shriek, he smiles. It is clearly his natural environment.“The desert is a very different place. In Dubai it’s all people and buildings, but in the desert you feel something different,” he says.
After our camel ride and dune bash, we’re handed snow boards. Not because they’re expecting freak weather, but because it’s time to surf the gold. I soon discover that getting down the dunes is easy; it’s climbing back up that’s the issue when not a single grain of sand is willing to stay in the same place. Eleven year old Cameron has a better plan; he cartwheels over the ridges.
Above the dunes
Dubai adventure specialists pack every bit of action they can into the desert. You can quad bike it, fly over it and even skydive into it with Skydive Dubai, if you have the right experience.
Beginner skydivers might also enjoy a tandem jump over the famous The Palm; a man made island shaped like a palm. This offers amazing views of the Gulf coast. If you have young kids with a taste for flight, or you aren’t quite ready for the outside world, then you can experience the sensation of skydiving by whizzing round a giant tube at iFLY Dubai in Mirdif Mall.
Which brings me to the malls. You may think the most action you can get in and around a mall is handing over your credit card after a designer shopping spree. But no, there are bikes and go karts for hire around the perimetre of Dubai Marina Mall, you can dive with sharks and skate on ice at Dubai Mall, and you can head down a ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates with Ski Dubai. Did I say a ski slope? I meant an almighty snow dome where you can toboggan, tube, meet penguins and roll around in a massive synthetic snowball. There’s even a full size chair lift to an alpine style bar if you are in need of a rest.
Climbing into a snowball is good practice for the next activity on our list. At Dubai’s waterparks you spend much of your time in a rubber ring or a raft for two, or even five. There are three waterparks accessible from the city; Wild Wadi, Atlantis, The Palm resort’s Aquaventure and Yas Waterworld near Abu Dhabi which is approximately an hours drive away. In all three the fun starts with a lazy river ride, but it doesn’t stay lazy for long. In our visit to the three parks we watch the floor fall away from us in glass capsules, we take family boat rides that fling us into a large bowl, we have helter skelter races and even raft through a shark tank. And all before lunch.
The ultimate rush
It’s all good practice for the fastest rush on earth. Yas Island’s Ferrari World gives you the chance to see what it’s like to be a Grand Prix driver by accelerating to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds in a carriage modelled on a Ferrari F1 car. The 1.7 G force remoulds my face as I hit the hot air on Formula Rossa; the fastest rollercoaster in the world. My camel ride, which felt so edgy and adventurous just a day or so ago, is now downgraded in my memory to a toddler plod. To keep with the theme, we end our trip to Yas Island by whizzing around the Formula 1 Marina Circuit. On a bike. No pit stops necessary!
As we leave Dubai, two Frenchmen complete a new world record for base jumping the tallest tower in the world; the Burj Khalifa. I have no doubt that sooner or later someone will top their achievement with something even more daring. As far as I know, no one has ever tried to jump it while riding a camel?