Sunrise in the Desert

As time is running out on our desert adventure, we are frantically trying to squeeze in all the experiences this Emirate has to offer.

Anneke’s only request since we arrived was to go camping in the desert. Whilst we love the idea of camping, Dave and I have an aversion to ‘stuff’. The amount of ‘stuff’ required to camp has always put us off – more so the storage of said stuff.

Normally, one would camp during the winter, when the desert temperatures are a little more palatable. However, we are not in a position to wait. As we drove further into the desert, the temperatures rose – we left at 38 degrees, slowly it rose to 45 degrees and as we pulled into the campsite, it settled on 49 degrees. I was dreading the walk the next morning. Who, in their right mind, wanders into the desert VOLUNTARILY in the middle of Summer.

After a swim and a BBQ, we headed off to bed. What happened next was the strangest thing you could ever imagine. IT POURED! Not just dribbled, but hammered down. It was so loud it woke the kids.

We set off at 4am with the guide and a bunch of other guests. Everyone was kitted out in their hiking gear and walking poles, our kids were in shorts and t-shirts. It was cloudy, so it was super pitch black. The kids were absolute troopers, they kept up the whole way, in fact were often at the front of the pack, and loved wearing the head lamps. They made nice conversations with the other hikers and followed instructions.

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The kids loved the head lamps.


It was pretty hairy, there are some super deep holes in the desert. Luckily the rain had made the sand fairly compact.

After almost 1 and a 1/4 hours, we arrived at the spot where we would watch the sunrise. I expected the kids to fall in a heap, instead they were off – up and down every sand dune they could see. Some of these dunes were mountainous. They continued on doing this for the whole 1 and 1/2 hours we were there.

The sun came up and the kids sat quietly and watched. I think they knew that they were experiencing something super special.

It is hard to find gorgeous dunes. The ones closer to the city are made up of dirty looking sand, it takes a long drive and an equally long walk to catch the majesty of the red, untouched dunes.

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Dave, Elsie and Anneke in the distance.


On the return journey, Elsie led the way. She navigated the dunes and followed our footsteps out. All in all, it was a 7km round trek – through sand, over mountains, down mountains.

Wandeling or hiking is deeply in-grained in the Achterstraat/Van Raaij gene. It is a joy to see the kids develop a love of it too. We were supposed to be in Slovenia this Summer hiking, but clearly the desert has its own appeal too.

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