Camping is a wonderful activity, especially if you are looking for opportunities to bond with your family or friends. Finding a camping grounds are not hard in the UAE. There are deserts everywhere in the UAE. Weather you pick Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Res Al Khaima, Fujehra, or Al Ain, all have wonderful deserts.
Though it sounds fun, camping in the wild can be really tough if you just set-out without proper preparation. So, to enjoy your camping, make sure that you gain enough information to make this a wonderful family trip.
The best times to camp outdoors in the UAE is between mid-October and April. Always carry plenty of water and make sure your vehicle has full tank of fuel. Always inform someone where you are going and when you will be back!
Is it safe to camp out in the desert?
Though UAE is a very safe place, even for campers, I would prefer to go in a group if you plan to stay overnight. It is a no man’s land, and there could be people driving around in their four-wheel drives. Pay more attention if you have women and children. The more people there are, the group can help if you get stuck in the sand, or to chase the unwanted company, or to help you in other emergency situations.
If you find a wadi, stay a bit far from it. Water can flood the place within few seconds at times.
What should I carry when camping in the desert?
- Tent: Though you can get rugged, fancy and therefore expensive tens in branded stores like ARB, etc., you make get a cheap one, but that does the job in stores like Carrefour and LuLu Hypermarket. Make sure you get a tent big enough to accommodate the members of your family, plus one extra, so that there will be room to move around inside the tent. Since it can get windy, get a tent that has strong structure that can withstand the winds, and can be firmly fixed on the ground.
- Sleeping bags: Weather you are planning to stay overnight or not, having a good sleeping bag can give you a comfortable base to rest your back. If you have a sleeping bag with thick layers of material, you will not require an additional mattress.
- Firewood: While small think branches can help you to set the initial fire, the thick blocks of wood can keep the fire going.
- Grills: This is where you will be placing the food to cook above the fire.
- Kettle: If you are a coffee or tea lover, get one of these to boil the water.
- Aluminum foil: This can be very handy to wrap food, also to cover food while cooking.
- BBQ stand: Try to choose one with strong base, and right size for the food you plan to cook.
- Newspapers: Though you can read while you are camping, this will be very helpful to light the charcoal.
- Charcoal: You will get two types of coal. One made of crushed charcoal particles combined and formed to an oval shape charcoal. Usually these are easy to light. However the real charcoal is the one that will last long. Usually I mix both when placing it in the BBQ stand.
- Lighter: Though matches is enough, I prefer a cigarette lighter since using a match stick can be tricky when there are winds.
- Lighter Fluid: This will make your life easier to light the charcoal.
- BBQ fan: To bring the coal to a red burning state you will need to blow air towards it. You could use a piece of cardboard as a hand fan to blow air, or use a BBQ fan to do the job quicker.
- Spatula: A very useful tool when cooking in open flames
Bowl for washing up.
- Warm jacket or sweater: It can get real cold in the evening and night. Having some warm cloths will be very useful.
- First Aid Kit: When you are out in the wild several things could happen. There can be insects, scorpions, or even snakes. You the place you are camping may have sharp rocks or thorny bushes. It is good to include alcohol pads, adhesive bandages of different sizes, antiseptic fluid such as Dettol, eye drops for washing eyes, adhesive surgical tape, scissors, pain relief tablets such as Adol, pain relief ointment such as DeepHeat, etc.
Rubbish bags: Big black ones will be the best. It can be used to collect garbage, store items as an extra bag, or even be used as a blanket in emergency.
- Mobile Phone: Unless you are going deep into the desert, you should get network coverage.
- GPS: If you are going off road, this is a MUST. Save the spot close to the main road from you would had diverted to the desert. Plus learn how to identify the address that is the coordinate of your present location (Latitude and longitude). This will be the most useful information you can provide to a rescue team in case you need their help.
- Cool Box and ice: There is nothing like having a cool drink in the middle of the desert. Buy a big cool box. It can even be used as a chair or table if you do not have one.
- Rope: Will be useful if required to tie the tent, two the vehicle if required, tie stuffs to the vehicle, etc.
- Picnic chairs: Though the traditional way is to lay a mat or carpet and sit on the sand, you can use a chair if that is what you prefer.
- Knife: A multi-utility foldable one might be the best pick, though a good big and hard one too can be useful.
- Flash Light: Get a real powerful one.
- Tool kit for your vehicle: This is a different list based on how far and deep you want to go inside the desert.
- Sunscreen: As the weather will be hot using a sunscreen of at least SPF30 will be recommended
Where to put Up the Tent in the desert?
Make sure you are pitching the tent into flat land; avoid setting up tent on the side of a sand dune. In several part of the desert you may find trees. If you find one that can provide share from the heat you should seriously consider putting up the tent under it. Though trees provide good shade, it is advisable to be slightly away if you plan to have a bonfire. The last thing you want is the dry branches to catch fire.
Dangerous animals in the desert:
Though you may find beautiful birds and animals during your camping trip, you should be very careful not to bump into dangerous ones like snakes and scorpions. Scorpions are venomous and typically they avoid humans and will only sting when threatened. Usually they are found hiding under rocks, tents, clothing, or any object, where they find shelter.
A variety of venomous snake species are found in the UAE. This includes the horned viper usually creamy-beige in color. It is found under anything that provides a little shelter from the sun. If no shade is available, it buries itself in the sand.
The GOLDEN rule. Once you set your tent, put your luggage inside, and always zip-close the tent. Almost every tent that is available there days has zippers, which prevent any insects or animals to enter inside. Do not leave your clothes or shoe outside the tent at night. Keep them inside with the shutter closed. If you leave them outside you may accidentally put the shoe without realizing that there is a scorpion inside.
Do not leave any garbage or food outside since it will attract other animals such as fox, camels, lizards, etc. It is advisable to keep the food inside the car itself.
At the end of the day, a well prepared camping trip can be a wonderful event.