Desert Conservation Reserve

Desert Conservation Reserve Overview

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is a protected area located in the heart of the UAE's desert ecosystem. It covers an area of 225 square kilometers and was established in 2002 to protect the natural habitat of many endangered species that are native to the region. The DDCR is home to over 60 species of mammals, including Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, and desert hare. It also has over 200 species of birds, including the endangered houbara bustard and the falcon, which is the national bird of the UAE.

The reserve is managed by the Emirates Wildlife Society in partnership with Dubai Desert Conservation Centre, and it operates various conservation and sustainable development programs. The DDCR offers a range of activities such as desert safaris, wildlife drives, and nature walks, all designed to promote environmental awareness and educate visitors about the importance of conservation. The DDCR is also home to the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, a luxury eco-tourism resort that offers guests an immersive desert experience while promoting sustainable tourism practices. Discover the pristine beauty of Dubai Conservation Reserve, where nature and wildlife thrive in harmony with the modern world.

Activities to Do at Desert Conservation Reserve

Camel Treks

Camel rides in dubai and exploring the vast desert landscape is an unforgettable experience that will elevate your spirits from ordinary to exhilarating. Traversing the dunes on a traditional 'ship of the desert' is truly unique and should not be missed. So, if you're looking for an adventure, riding a camel is a must-try activity that will surely leave you with cherished memories.

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Horse Riding

Experience the desert landscape like never before, as you put your horse through its paces or leisurely trot or canter through the picturesque terrain, accompanied by your knowledgeable guide. Take in the whole experience, soak up the sights, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the desert as you explore it in a unique and exciting way.

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Wildlife Drives

Embark on a leisurely drive through the rugged terrain to discover the free-roaming wildlife herds that call it home. With the guidance of your knowledgeable guide, you'll learn about the unique desert ecology and keep a keen eye out for fascinating flora and fauna. This is an ideal way to observe the natural beauty of the desert and gain a deeper understanding of its ecology.

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Experience the awe-inspiring display of the falcons' natural speed and instincts as they gracefully soar through the sky during a captivating falconry demonstration. The knowledgeable falconer shares insights on the breed and character of each bird, providing a deeper understanding of these majestic creatures. Get up close with these impressive birds of prey, capturing amazing photographs and gaining a deeper appreciation for their unique qualities.

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The exhilarating rush of adrenaline before releasing the traditional recurve bow is a memory that will stay with you long after your desert adventure. Many visitors have even been inspired to take up this exciting sport upon returning home. Archery in the desert is a unique experience that combines skill and fun, making it a must-try activity for those seeking a one-of-a-kind adventure.

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Dune Driving

Experience the thrill of traversing the magnificent dunes and desert terrain in a luxurious four-wheel drive. Follow a predefined route that takes you through pristine desert landscapes, and eventually to a Bedouin camp where you'll enjoy an entertaining evening. This is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the desert while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a top-of-the-line vehicle.

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Sand Boarding

Experience a unique contrast between ancient Bedouin lifestyle and modern sports with sandboarding in the dunes. Strap on your board and glide down the sandy slopes for an exhilarating rush to the valley floor. This thrilling activity combines the ancient beauty of the desert with the excitement of a modern sport, creating an unforgettable adventure that's not to be missed.

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Dune Dinner

Unwind in cozy Bedouin tents with comfortable low cushions, while indulging in a feast of grilled meats, fresh salads, Arabic sweets, and beverages. Enjoy the mesmerizing performance of a belly dancer under a breathtaking galaxy of stars against the stunning desert backdrop. This enchanting evening offers a perfect blend of delicious food, entertainment, and natural beauty, creating an unforgettable experience.

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Embark on a mystical journey to the heart of the desert with safari guides in luxury four-wheel drive vehicles. Experience a traditional Arabian dinner and an enchanting night in a tent at your encampment. This unique experience offers a magical evening of camping out, surrounded by the mysterious desert, creating an unforgettable memory.

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Private Desert Dinner

Indulge in a romantic evening at a secluded spot in the desert, arranged with cozy rugs, cushions and traditional torches. Enjoy the company of a loved one as you savor a personalized menu, experiencing the true essence of desert romance. This unique dining experience under the starry night sky, surrounded by the enchanting desert, will leave you with cherished memories.

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Hot Air Ballooning

Fly on a magic carpet over a desert conservation reserve and marvel at the endless ocean of sand dunes and lush green oases. Witness a world-first falcon show from 3000ft above with the world's fastest animals. Keep an eye out for native Arabian wildlife like oryx, gazelles, and camels roaming freely in their natural habitat. An unforgettable experience awaits you.

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Night Safari

Experience an unforgettable evening in the desert with a scenic drive, mouth-watering food, and a breathtaking view of the starry sky. Let the desert landscape mesmerize you as you journey through it, indulge in a delicious meal, and be awed by the stunning stars shining brightly above. This is an evening you'll never forget.

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Flora and Fauna at Desert Conservation Reserve

While commonly thought of as barren, the desert is actually teeming with diverse forms of life, each with their own remarkable adaptations to thrive in this challenging environment. The Dubai desert conservation reserve is home to an array of fascinating flora and fauna, and this guide serves as a valuable tool for visitors to identify and learn about these species.

The Dubai desert conservation reserve is home to a fascinating array of flora and fauna, each uniquely adapted to survive in this harsh environment.


The reserve boasts a variety of desert plants, including acacia trees, ghaf trees, and date palms. These plants have developed remarkable adaptations to thrive in arid conditions, such as deep root systems to access groundwater and waxy coatings to reduce water loss.


The reserve is also home to a diverse range of animals, including the Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, and desert hare. These creatures have evolved a range of adaptations to survive in the desert, such as long legs for efficient movement across sand, and the ability to go without water for extended periods. 

Know Before You Go to Desert Conservation Reserve

Essential Information
How to Reach
Tips to Visit

Location: VHGG+HW3 - Sharjah - United Arab Emirates

Best Time to Visit: 

The Dubai desert conservation reserve is best visited during the cooler months, from November to April. The daytime temperatures during this time range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F), with pleasant evenings, making outdoor activities more comfortable. Visitors can enjoy activities such as wildlife safaris, falconry shows, and camel rides, as well as stargazing under the clear desert skies. The reserve is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, which are more active during the cooler months. During the summer months, from May to October, temperatures can soar above 40°C (104°F), making it uncomfortable for outdoor activities, but indoor activities such as museum visits are still possible.

The Dubai desert conservation reserve is located about 45 minutes from Dubai city center and can be easily reached by car or tour bus.

By Car: Visitors can rent a car or take a taxi from Dubai to the reserve, which is located off the Dubai-Al Ain Road (E66). The reserve is well-signposted, making it easy to find.

By Tour Bus: Many tour companies offer trips to the Dubai desert conservation reserve, which typically include pick-up and drop-off at hotels in Dubai. These tours often include activities such as wildlife safaris, camel rides, and falconry shows.

  • Book your visit in advance to ensure access to the reserve and choose the activities you want to participate in.
  • Dress appropriately for the desert climate, wearing light, breathable clothing that covers your skin and comfortable shoes suitable for walking on sand.
  • Bring sun protection such as sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the strong desert sun.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during the summer months when temperatures can be high.
  • Respect the environment by not littering, staying on designated trails, and following the instructions of your guide.
  • Be mindful of local customs and traditions, especially when interacting with local people.

FAQ's of Desert Safari

What are the famous activities to do at Desert Conservation Reserve?

  • Falconry shows: Witness the world's first falcon show from 3000ft in the air as you fly with the world's fastest animals. Learn about the ancient tradition of falconry and watch trained birds of prey demonstrate their speed and agility.
  • Camel rides: Take a leisurely ride on a camel, the iconic desert animal, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the reserve as you make your way through the sand dunes.
  • Stargazing: Enjoy a unique stargazing experience under the clear desert skies, away from the bright lights of the city. Learn about the constellations and marvel at the beauty of the night sky.
  • Dining in the desert: Experience a traditional Arabic-style dinner in the heart of the desert, complete with a bonfire and entertainment such as belly dancing and music. Savor delicious local cuisine and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the desert.

Is it safe to visit the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve?

 Yes, the reserve is a safe destination for visitors. However, visitors should follow the rules and guidelines provided by the reserve and their tour operator to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

What should I wear and bring to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve?

When visiting the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, it is important to wear comfortable clothing suitable for the desert climate. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics is recommended to help you stay cool. It is also recommended to wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the sun and insects. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also help to protect your face and eyes.

It is also important to wear closed-toe shoes, such as sneakers or hiking boots, to protect your feet from the hot sand and rocky terrain.

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Is camping allowed in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve?

Yes, camping is allowed in designated areas within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Visitors must obtain a permit and follow the guidelines provided by the reserve, including respecting the environment and wildlife. It is recommended to book in advance through a tour operator or the reserve's website, as permits may be limited and certain areas may be closed during certain times of the year.

Can I see wildlife at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve?

Yes, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, such as Arabian oryx, gazelles, and desert foxes. Visitors may also see a variety of bird species and reptiles. The reserve is committed to preserving and protecting the natural habitat and its biodiversity, and offers guided nature walks and wildlife safaris for visitors to learn more about the wildlife and their habitats.


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