The buttery sand was still chilly, not yet warmed by the
We were driving through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, on the lookout for Arabian oryx, proud-looking, long-horned antelope that seemed as regal as they did
We had woken before dawn and made our way out of the city, watching the high-rises fade away before coming upon the first herd of oryx, more than a dozen of them standing together in
The path was there for a
“These paths have been mapped out in conjunction with the team at the conservation reserve to ensure that we limit the impact to the environment,” Simon Mead, head of operations for Arabian Adventures, which is part of The Emirates Group, told Travel + Leisure. “A speed limit is enforced and we differentiate between Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdune-bashingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdune-drive.'”
As the morning wore on, we
“These safaris are an important part of educational tourism and support the [reserve] when carried out in designated low-impact areas,” Mead said, adding that a portion of the price of the tours goes toward the reserve’s conservation efforts.
Our time in the reserve coming to an end, we sipped orange juice and gazed out at the unspoilt view from the outdoor terrace of the Al Maha resort. A small gazelle walked up to the platform to check us out, almost as if it sensed I needed one last great photo before we went. And then before I knew it, we were driving back to the city where I would hop on the Dubai Metro and soar past the iconic Burj Khalifa, back among the glittering skyscrapers.
But, if only for a few hours, I had walked in the desert and it felt like I had stepped back in time.
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