A Desert Safari in Egypt: Experience Unique Dunes & Dining

Estimated read time 7 min read

Curious about a desert safari in Egypt? Come along as we explore the mountainous deserts of Hurghada, from exhilarating ATV rides to leisurely camel treks. Witness traditional bread making, and cap off the day with a mesmerizing fire show under the stars. Immerse yourself in a day filled with cultural richness and local traditions, all set against the stunning backdrop of the desert.

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bedouin village

The Journey Begins

Our desert safari kicked off with a buzz of anticipation mixed with a hint of uncertainty. As our vehicle picked up more adventurers from various stops, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Have we signed up for just another tourist cliché?”

The mix of excited, confused, and apathetic expressions among the new faces added a vibrant mosaic of personalities to our group. In the cramped quarters of our 4×4, seating eight quite snugly, we were a jumble of languages and elbows, occasionally jostling into each other’s laps over bumpy roads. These moments, while slightly uncomfortable, marked the beginning of what was to be a unique adventure, revealing the unexpected glory of shared, cramped journeys. 

Thrills on Wheels

Upon arriving at the starting point for the ATV ride, the atmosphere was electric with the large influx of eager participants and cattle style rounding up of us all. It was further marred slightly by the confusion among some travelers who hadn’t quite grasped the essentials of the journey. Arguments over inclusions of protective scarves and goggles, adding a layer of disorder and illustrating the diverse preparedness of our group.

After a brief training on how to handle the ATVs and wrap our heads to shield from the dust, we set off. Racing through the desert, the engines roared beneath us, kicking up clouds of sand as we carved our paths over the rugged terrain. Our convoy included young photographers aiming to capture each moment, for sale of course as a treasured keepsake.

A Bumpy Ride to Tradition

Next, we transitioned to deeper desert exploration in 4x4s. The ride over the sand dunes was a rollercoaster of dips and rises, eliciting gasps and tight grips on our seats. Outside, the shadows of our convoy danced across the sands, creating a scene reminiscent of a classic desert film, capturing a raw, thrilling essence of adventure I tried to etch into my memory.

Camel Rides and Cultural Encounters

Upon arriving at the village, we receive a brief yet insightful introduction to camel riding. Around us, many camels wait patiently, each accompanied by a villager. The women, covered completely and communicating through gentle nods and soft smiles, stand by to assist. Riding a camel is a mutual choice: the camel decides when it’s ready to rise, a process that unfolds naturally, without hurry.

For my little one, whose camel seemed as reluctant as she was to ride it, this was a relief. Watching these majestic creatures elegantly stand is an experience in itself. As they slowly start their procession around the village, with the sun dipping towards golden hour, the scene resembles something out of a movie or a distant dream.

Encounters with Nature and Tradition

For those that are curious, a small zoo presented an optional peek at local wildlife for a fee. This was followed by an intimate demonstration of traditional bread-making by the Bedouin women. Gathered around a fire, we watched as they skillfully prepared the bread, each movement a testament to a time-honored practice. We were educated about their history and that they use camel dung exclusively to make the fire.  

I watched the intensity and ease at which the young lady made the bread all while thinking, I’ll pass but my children had other ideas.  They looked at me and said, I want some of that bread with an intention that I fully understood and gave into.  It was only after they completely devoured it, that they recalled the camel dung fire starter.  They’ll still tell you that the bread was good!

Tea Under the Tent

As dusk began to settle, we were invited to share tea, a gesture of hospitality that felt like a warm embrace under the cooling desert sky. Sitting together, sipping the sweet brew, the barriers of language and culture dissolved, replaced by shared smiles and nods of appreciation of a day well spent.

A Feast and Fire Under the Stars

Dinner was a feast for the senses—an array of Egyptian dishes laid out buffet-style, each bite a burst of local flavor. The meal was complemented by a mesmerizing dance and fire show, where flames licked the starlit sky, weaving enchanting patterns that mirrored the desert’s mystery.

Starry Return

Returning to the hotel under a canopy of stars, the serene light of the desert night guided us. Each star seemed to twinkle with a secret, a shared experience, a whispered story of our desert passage.

Egyptian desert safari dinner

Tips for Preparing for Your Desert Safari in Hurghada, Egypt

Planning Your Trip:

  • Book Your Safari: Choose a reputable tour operator with enough positive reviews to ensure a safe and enriching experience. 
  • Best Time to Visit: Plan your safari during the cooler months from October to March to avoid the extreme summer heat of the desert.

Essentials to Bring:

  • Protective Clothing: Wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the sun and sand. Breathable, lightweight fabrics are best. These hiking pants were perfect!
  • Head Protection: Bring a scarf or bandana to cover your head and face from dust during ATV rides. A wide-brimmed hat is also advisable for sun protection. If not, you will be charged for one as it is required.  This is noted in the booking.
  • Eyewear: Dust-proof goggles or sunglasses are essential to protect your eyes during sandy rides. These are provided for a small fee.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: The desert sun can be harsh, even in cooler months. Use a high SPF sunscreen and carry lip balm to prevent chapped lips.
  • Hydration: Bring a reusable water bottle. Staying hydrated is crucial in a dry desert environment.
  • Comfortable Closed-Toe Shoes: Shoes should be suitable for walking on sand and stable enough for ATV rides. 
  • Snacks: The 6 hour tour can be long and no drinks or food is provided until the end besides a small cup of tea and one bottle of water.  Eat well before it and bring a few granola bars or easy snacks to munch on in between, especially for the kids. A child during ours was pretty hungry and luckily, I had extras to offer the family.
sunset at bedouin village

On the Safari:

  • Listen Carefully to Guides: Pay attention during the brief training session before ATV rides and follow all safety instructions.
  • Respect Local Customs: When visiting Bedouin villages, be respectful of local traditions and follow the lead of your guide in interactions.
  • Photography Etiquette: Always ask for permission before taking photos, especially of local people and their property. Men are NOT allowed to take a photo with the Bedouin women but women can.

Remembering Your Experience:

  • Keep a Journal: Write down your thoughts and experiences at the end of each day to capture the essence of your journey.
  • Purchase Souvenirs Wisely: Opt for meaningful souvenirs that are ethically sourced and support local communities. 
  • There is a crew that records the entire day offering a video and photos for a fee.
A group of people enjoying a desert safari, driving in a convoy of red all-terrain vehicles across sandy terrain under a blue sky with wispy clouds, wearing bandanas for dust protection, experiencing the thrill of outdoor adventure.

A desert safari can be a transformative experience for the whole family, offering a unique blend of adventure, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. By preparing adequately and respecting your surroundings, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable journey through the desert.

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