Review: Riding Camels and Dune Bashing at Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort, The Empty Quarter, United Arab Emirates

We couldn’t come all the way out to the desert without getting to try some experiences and the beauty that it’s known for. The Qsar Al Sarab Resort had set up some activities that were included in our room rate that allowed us to experience the desert beauty up close.


This post is one chapter in our trip to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives on United Airlines and Etihad Airways. This trip was booked and credited to Aeroplan and Etihad Preferred Guest. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Riding Camels and Dune Bashing at Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anatara, The Empty Quarter, United Arab Emirates.

This post is the second half of our stay at Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anatara. For the first half of the post, please see Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anatara.

Activity: Qsar Al Sarab Morning Camel Ride:

Given the extreme heat of the desert, most of the planned activities during our stay took place in the early morning or the late evening. Indeed, the temperatures during our visit in October rose to about 38 degrees Celsius everyday of our UAE stay. It wasn’t so bad when you were poolside, but when you weren’t – it was another melting matter entirely!!

First up today was a morning camel ride. Our morning camel ride experience started at 5:45 AM in the lobby. We were the only ones on the camel ride with our guide, Jaleel who was from Morocco. Jaleel drove us about 15 minutes from the hotel property into the desert where we loaded out into 3 awaiting camels. We trekked out into the desert to an isolated dune area where breakfast was waiting for us. Jaleel explained the tracks in the sand, including the animals that were able to survive in the environment. 

Sunrise over the Desert of The Empty Quarter
Camel Trekking with our Guide over Sandy Trials
Desert Brush
Camels like Pets (on the forehead)

It was a pretty scenic and surreal experience to see the sun rise across the sand dunes in the middle of nowhere. Being interested in photography, I was able to get lots of photos of ever changing light across the dunes as the sun broke the morning sky. 

Morning Sand Dune Landscapes
Mountains of Sand
Endless Sand Dunes under Morning Light
Camels Parked in the Desert

The ride was spectacular as we navigated through the desert under the morning sunlight. The camels were well behaved and quite calm. It was an amazing experience to be in the middle of nowhere without a sound around. 

After the camel ride, we had a light breakfast snack in the desert with our guide. We could feel the warmth of the day with the desert sun starting to beat down upon us with its intense rays. It was a bit strange enjoying a cold Pro-Biotic Yoghurt drink in the middle of sand dunes. Unusual and luxury travel indeed.

A Camel Trek to Hotel Car Transfer – a description you don’t write everyday

We had a short car transfer back to the Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort.

Pool and Recreation:

After the morning camel ride, we spent the rest of the day next to the pool. MrsWT73 was reading a paperback copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” next to the pool. The sun was so hot, the heat melted the glue adhesion of the paperback and the book started to fall apart in her hands throughout the afternoon.

Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort Pool
The Edge of the Pool Starts Endless Desert
Empty Pool Areas

We had no issues locating seats or space at the pool since it’s quite a warm experience.

Activity: Qsar Al Sarab Dune Bashing:

Later that evening, we went for our dune dashing adventure. We had access to one activity per day included in our rate, but we happened to have scheduled both activities on the same day which the hotel did not have any problem with. Dune Bashing appears to be the thing to do in the UAE and there was no where better than to do it than here, where the dunes were huge!

At 5 PM, we hopped into a Toyota Land Cruiser that was discreetly fitted with an interior roll cage. We traveled a short distance on the main access road where we stopped briefly to lower the tire pressure to 18 PSI from 35 PSI. 

A Strange Sight: Arabic Stop Signs in the Middle of a Desert
Staging Area: Sand Dune Tire Deflation

We followed another Land Cruiser as we zipped across the dunes. Azmat was our guide, who was an older man from Pakistan who had been working in the UAE since 1995 and had his family back in Pakistan. He explained to us to that there was a structured process to learn how to drive, which included a complex license certification by the UAE government. I’ve had a lot of experience driving in snow, but I certainly wouldn’t feel that I’d be able to do this on my own, without getting stuck.

Our tour included 4 stops at different view points. It included zipping diagonally up and down sand dunes, similar to a snowboarder crossing up and down the sides of a half pipe. You can see the tracks left by the trucks in this photograph.

We crossed these dunes, end to end, on our journey.

Sand Dune Landscapes
Majestic Vistas: The Empty Quarter Sand Dunes
Tiny Sport Utility Vehicles Dwarfed by the Size of Sand Dunes
A Small Speck of a Truck in a World of Emptiness
Sand Dune Mountains in The Empty Quarter

After we had competed our four view point stops, we arrived to our final stop to take in the sunset. Our last stop had juice, water, croissants and snacks available. We arrived to the same spot as the morning camel stop but thanks to the lighting, it looked totally different than it was at 7 AM in the morning. From here, we took in the sunset.

Angle Parking Only
Camp Parking for Sunset
Sunset in the Desert

All in all – an excellent day of activities and experiences. Definitely a gem yet to be discovered.

Summary of the Activities of Qsar Al Sarab:

We hadn’t thought too much initially about booking activities in the desert. I’m sure glad that we did. A camel ride is always entertaining, and a peaceful experience if it’s done right. The Dune Bashing is a pretty cool experience and I am happy that we did it in the afternoon or evening instead of in the morning. The crew at the resort was pretty well polished and professional. I was happy that we booked the activities and would eventually like to try the falconry activities that are common through the Middle East on our next journey through.

Qsar Al Sarab – The Bottom Line:

We’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced a desert retreat at several locations around the world in The United Arab Emirates, Namibia and Morocco. I’m happy to report this location beats them all. There isn’t anywhere in the world that I know of that offers the intersection of much luxury, mountainous dunes and beautiful inspiring scenery.

On the plus side, its only two to three hours drive from Abu Dhabi, it’s a super luxury setting, in the middle of nowhere, it has excursions that are super cool and unique with scenery that is to die for.

The only disadvantage that I can think of is that the drive from Abu Dhabi to Liwa Oasis where the property is can be pretty monotonous. With two hours of straight in line driving at a posted 80 km/h and speed cameras are frequently along the route, making it hard to gain any time.

We will most certainly be returning guests and would highly recommend a visit.


This post is the second half of our stay at Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anatara. For the first half of the post, please see Qsar Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anatara.


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