After ten long weeks of training in the United Arab Emirates, I should have been sick of the desert and the heat. I had six days of vacation and could go anywhere in the world. I selected to stay in the UAE and finish exploring the country. Originally, I had planned to spend all six days in Dubai. But after a weekend in Dubai during my training, I had done most everything on the Dubai to-do list. I started looking for something else to do in the UAE. I came across the Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort.
Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort is a 5-star resort is in located in the Liwa desert. Liwa is located the Empty Quarter near the Saudi Arabia border. The resort offers dune bashing, camel trekking, and many other desert activities. This is definitely more my style than a couple days in the Dubai.
It had been over seven months since I had last driven a car, so I decided to try my hand at driving in the UAE. I picked up my rental car in Abu Dhabi and made the two-hour drive to the Empty Quarter. It is really empty. Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort put up signs along the route so it’s easy to find the resort. The resort is a couple of miles off the main road. I made the turn off the main road and drove into the desert. I just kept driving through the dunes until I got my first sighting of the resort. It sits in the desert like a Middle Ages Moorish fort.
I drove into the central courtyard and was greeted by a valet who took my car and bags. I was shown into the great hall. We bypassed the reception and I was seated in the main sitting room. The far wall is made of windows and provides a view of the sand dunes. I gave the hostess my passport so she could get me checked in. While I waited, I was presented with Liwa dates and a camel milk smoothie. The drink was a fresh camel milk mixed with ground Liwa dates. This was my first taste of camel milk. The drink was a sweet smoothie with a hint of spice.
I booked a Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort Short Breaks Special Package which included breakfast, a free drink, and 20% discount on dining. I selected the cheapest room Deluxe Garden Room. Due to a small technical issue with the website, I was presented with an upgrade to the Deluxe Terrace Room. I was escorted to my room. It was the size of my apartment in college with a huge bathroom, king sized bed and a patio big enough to hold a BBQ.
I got settled into my room and went down to the pool for a relaxing afternoon by the pool. I had a club sandwich and a mint lemonade. After a relaxing lunch, I picked up a towel and split my time between the pool and sunbathing while reading my book. As the sun got lower, I checked my time. As relaxing as reading my book it was time to get dressed for my camel ride.
I was met in the great hall by our guide. He drove us into the desert where we met the camels and the camel wrangler. We got a quick “How to ride a camel”. It focused on how to sit while the camel stands up and then lays down. I was introduced to my camel for the evening Jamal.
After the camel ride, we were served traditional Arabic coffee, tea, and sweets while watching the sunset from the top of one of the dunes. After our snack, we headed back to the resort. On the way back, our guide informed us that this desert was used to film the Tatooine scenes in Star Wars.
I spent the rest of the evening, reading a book at watching the stars from my terrace. The next morning I got up early for a hike up one of the dunes to watch the sunrise. After an early morning nap, I walked over the main building and had a breakfast and more of that camel milk smoothie. After that, I took advantage of the resorts archery range.
I enjoyed another afternoon by the pool and dinner on my terrace. I was picked up at my room for a night time desert hike. The wind was blowing, but the sky was clear. The stars were out in force and I could see the Milky Way.
Again, I awoke before sunrise. This time for a private dune bashing tour. Basically, I got to ride in a car as in drove up and down the dunes. Dune bashing is best done on an empty stomach. Towards the end of the trip, I started feeling a little motion sick.
After a relaxing nap on the patio and a light breakfast, it was time for my time at Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort to end. I drove away knowing that a second visit to Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort was in my future.
Have you ever had a weekend somewhere similar to Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort?