In this episode of Explore, the team check out the first self-drive camping adventure allowed in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve - a 225-square-metre protected reserve - with specialist tour operator Sand Sherpa.
The Dubai Desert is home to some of the most beautiful unspoiled natural environment in the United Arab Emirates. Situated within it is a closed 225-square-kilometre protected nature area. And, for the first time as part of the Sand Sherpa experience, guests can enter in their own vehicles and camp overnight.
Before setting out Sand Sherpa's founder and Chief Sherpa, Rob Nicholas, explains the concept: "This is the first time that actually this experience has been offered to people who are self-driving in their own vehicles, so I think you’re in for a bit of a treat. It’s not like a typical dune bashing experience, we don’t do dune bashing at all. Our idea is that this is more like a traditional safari. So you’re going to see gazelle, oryx, you’ll see some lizards and you might see some other exciting creatures once we’re on the way. We’re on the reserve. It’s a 225-square-kilometre area and it represents 5 percent of the Dubai desert. However, at the same time were trying to show you how to treat the other 95 percent. So once you’ve gone on this experience with us today, hopefully you’re going to explore for yourself."
"just get out and explore"
The Dubai Desert is the perfect camping destination. With its beautiful landscape and array of vegetation and animals it’s a place to reconnect with nature.
Sand Sherpa says it aims to offer a completely new experience for its customers – blending off-roading with authentic camping.
As we set off in our convoy to our base camp we learn about the surrounding landscape and wildlife.
"You’ve got two species of gazelle, you’ve got one species of oryx, and then you’ve got so much other types of life from birds to lizards, '' explains Rob, adding: '' Everybody’s been locked up for a little while this year and now is the time to just get out and explore."
Out of the desert our camping oasis appears and we are welcomed for the evening. The base camp includes ex-military Penman trailers that have been converted into self-sufficient camping units.
Jane Witherspoon: "Rob tell me how this works? What have we got here?"
Rob Nicholas: ''Well right here you’ve got your kitchen cupboard. Everything from your kettle and your cutlery to pots and pans. Coffee, tea, milk powder, tumblers. Everything you need obviously to do with your cooking. You’ve also got a fridge freezer over on this side. So on the right side you’ve actually got a fridge compartment and on the left hand side you’ve got a freezer compartment.
"... It’s also got a nice little secret shower unit just here. So you can even have your own private shower and there’s a cubicle that drops down on the left hand side of the trailer as well."
As the sun sets and the campfire is lit it’s time for food and toreflect on this incredible landscape which is just half an hour from a bustling cosmopolitan city.