Tags Posts tagged with "desert"

desert

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

.

Dubai might just be the most fascinating city on Earth – definitely the most shiny and new, but just outside of the glitz and the glamour is one of the most vast and desolate deserts in the world, and it should not be missed if you are in the UAE, even for a couple days. When we found ourselves in Dubai earlier in the year we just couldn’t miss the chance to go off-roading in the arabian desert with Arabian Adventures, the top rated adventure tour company in the region.

It is easy to get lost in the vast malls of Dubai, the water parks on The Palm, the endless amazing restaurants, rooftop bars and even an indoor ski slope, but Dubai is unique in the fact the just a few miles outside of the city is almost absolutely nothing – endless desert sand dunes as far as the eye can see. There are a number of desert adventure tour companies, but Arabian Adventures is easily the most popular so we decided to go with them, and we were not disappointed one bit.

.

.

Not entirely sure what to expect, we were picked up at our hotel (read our review of the Grand Hyatt Dubai) and driven about 45 minutes outside of Dubai to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a vast protected area which only Arabian Adventures is allowed to enter. After deflating our tire pressure we drove into the sand to our first stop, a palm tree filled area where we were treated to a falcon show. While short and quick, it is truly amazing to see these amazing birds flying through the sand dunes so fast. It is easy to get distracted by the beautiful dunes and I have to admit we spent most of the time there shooting pictures of the scenery – but thats what you get when you put two photographers in the middle of the desert!

After the falcon show we strapped ourselves in for the off-roading portion of our adventure and man was it crazy! There were about 25 other SUV’s in our caravan, carefully spaced out as we ventured off across the dunes. The 4×4’s have extra installed roll bars, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride, its pretty exciting. I have to admit, like you’ll see in the video, that I got a bit “sea sick” trying to shoot video and hold on the whole time, but it was of course well worth it.

The drivers timed our adventure perfectly to get to the top of the dunes a few minutes before the sun set, an absolutely amazing scene which looks like something out of Star Wars more than less than an hour from a mega city.

.

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

.

Standing on top of these sand dunes with nothing but desert in every direction is a truly breathtaking site, even with all of the other tourists and cars in the caravan. I was a bit worried before we took off that going with so many other people into the desert would cheapen the experience but it really didn’t, which was a surprise.

After the sun set the temperature dropped a bit, and while still very hot it was pleasant enough to sit outside and enjoy our night. Arabian Adventures has built an amazing little camp/village in the middle of nowhere, and while built specifically for their tours, it still holds a semi authentic feeling to it where they offer camel rides, henna, shisha, a huge buffet dinner, belly dancing show and stargazing – all included in the price of the tour. (even beer and wine!)

.

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

.

Marina and I enjoyed wandering around the camp, eating amazing Middle Eastern food, smoking some shisha, Marina got henna and we really enjoyed the belly dancing performance. While not native to Dubai whatsoever, the dancing was a nice touch and entertaining – she really knew how to dance.

One of our favorite parts of the entire day was when they turned off all the lights in the entire camp, leaving us in utter darkness, the stars as bright as I had ever seen them – just cross your fingers it isn’t a full moon or you won’t get the full effect. Once the dining and dancing concludes you are free to enjoy a last drink and make your way back to your driver and SUV where you will be again dropped off back at your hotel, around 10pm.

An amazing day all in all I would do it again in a heartbeat (and actually did it again with a friend last week!). Arabian Adventures has done an excellent job of providing a very easy to plan tour into the desert which incorporates many different elements which would simply be hard to find all in one place on your own – especially on a tight timeline. For a total cost of around $100 per person – it is a very well done tour and an excellent value for the money. So strap on your seatbelt and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

.

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

.

.

.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

There are few places on Earth with more historical and biblical importance than Israel. From the Golan Heights in the north to the southern tip of Elat, the country holds a seemingly endless amount of history, and a fascinating history at that. While in Israel earlier this year we knew we had to explore and learn as much as we could, and lucky for us we met up with Nir from Hidden Valley tours who took us on one amazing journey. We met Nir in Jerusalem in a comfy outfitted Jeep which we would drive deep into the desert and explore the extents of southern Israel with.

.

“If you want to see the best that Israel has to offer… give Nir a call and he’ll give you a day you will never forget and meet you with a kindness you’ll be lucky to find anywhere else on Earth.”

.

We drove through the city of Jerusalem and out into the distant desert where Nir told detailed information about all that we were passing from churches to universities, plant life to geological phenomena, neighborhood dynamics to the birds flying above us. Upon meeting Nir, one thing is instantly clear – he is one of the most real and passionate people you will ever meet and someone we instantly felt completely comfortable around. This is great when meeting strangers but simply crucial when you are a tour guide. Nir told us the areas around Southern Israel we could drive to, explained different possible routes and suggested what might be the most interesting to us but let us dictate what exactly we wanted to see.

 .

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

We first made our way just a few miles outside of Jerusalem to the top of the tallest peak around so we could truly survey the area and get a complete sense of where we were and what we were surrounded by. He told us ancient stories of the different Bedouin tribes moving through the valleys, where ancient kings were buried as well as how to look into the striations of the rock formations and see how the entire area was formed millions of years before. Not to mention Juddea lays on the banks of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, leaving the area looking like nothing you have ever seen. Nir had charts, graphs and used extremely simply language which made us feel knowledgable while getting us excited to explore the area.    

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

After getting a complete lesson in geology and inspecting some ancient wells, we decided to off road in Nir’s jeep to the ancient  Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Saba, which seems to absolutely hang from the cliffs of the Kidron valley. This monastery is one of the most impressive sights we have ever seen, and having been built over 1,500 years ago is one of the oldest monasteries in the entire world. The monastery was built by monks looking to emulate a life like Jesus and John the Baptist, and to this day the entire valley and area carries quite an amazing and peaceful feeling. We sat quietly with Nir on the edge of a nearby cliff and enjoyed delicious tea made with local herbs and spiced cake – as we stared in amazement at the sight in front of us. Only the sight of the Grand Canyon has taken my breath away like the sight of Mar Saba did. 

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

As we made our way down the hills to the valley floor of the Juddean desert, we passed by Beduin farmers, herds of camels and some other impressive wildlife. As we were off roading and the scenery is so ancient looking I couldn’t help but feel like we were truly on a different planet, such a different landscape than anything we were used to.

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

Making our way through the Juddean valley we stopped at a small Kibbutz for snacks, and ventured to another equally impressive ancient monastery built into the cliffs. We ate hummus, asked questions and dove headfirst into learning about one of the most interesting areas in all of the world from both a historical, biblical and geological stand point.

.

We made the decision to search out an oasis in the desert, which required a short hike to get to but boy were we glad we decided to go for it. We drove down an incredibly fun and bumpy road through the dry and arid landscape until we reached the bottom of the valley where we spotted palm trees peaking from behind the cliffs, and upon getting closer a huge complex of buildings were surrounded by giant palm trees and a creek running through them, a true oasis in the desert. Walking a bit further we were greeted by the gigantic ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct, built into the side of the hills and in astonishingly  good shape. Hiking through the hills, following the creek we came across an absolutely beautiful natural pool with sparkling clean, cool water. We immediately jumped in, one of the most refreshing swims we have ever had. With a little exploration we followed the creek up through the winding rock formations to see where the natural water was trickling in through small cracks in the rocks, a tiny sliver in ancient stones giving birth to a truly gorgeous and unexpected oasis.

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

As the late afternoon sun passed over the rocks and we finished our hummus, carrots and pita bread, we packed up our belongings and hiked back out to the jeep. An hour later we were back in the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem rush hour and making our way to Tel Aviv after spending one of the most fascinating days of our trip with Nir, our always present knowledgable and kind guide.

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

To be honest, we sometimes shy away from guided tours in certain destinations because of the lack of passion we have experienced with some tour guides. We can say nothing bad about choosing Nir and Hidden Velley tours and in all honesty would have never seen an ounce that he showed us without him. Sometimes it is ok to simply explore a new city on foot and follow the guidebook, but if you are somewhere as important, vast and information filled as Israel you simply must hire a guide, and if you want to see the best that Israel has to offer while off roading with one of the nicest guys around, give Nir a call and he’ll give you a day you will never forget and meet you with a kindness you’ll be lucky to find anywhere else on Earth.

.

Nir can be reached via email at taninirf@gmail.com or by visiting the The Hidden Valley Facebook page. Tours are available for groups, singles and everything in between to a wide ranging group of destinations, sites and activities throughout Israel.

.

Living History: A Biblical Tour Through Israel (PHOTOS)

.

 

.

.

.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

.

Going on a trip around the world has always been a fantasy for me, and while I have been lucky enough to see much of the world through my travels, Marina and I were thrilled to finally plan an entire trip around the world, starting and ending in Phuket, Thailand, our adopted home. We would start by heading back to the states via South Korea and then, over the course of five months, make our way across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and into Asia before returning to Thailand, a complete trip around the world.

We packed up our two little carry on suitcases, filled to the brim, and jetted off for the the most intense, longest and adventurous plan yet. Five months later we are hours away from our return to Thailand and looking back over an amazing five months on the road. While we have months of writing ahead of us and are beyond excited to share all of our experiences with you, good and bad, here is a look at some of the numbers from our trip, the statistics behind a trip around the world, from the grandiose to the minute.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

32, 281 Miles

.

Since leaving Phuket on December 4, we have traveled a shocking 32,281 miles (51,951 km). The circumference of the world around the equator is just 25,000 miles which means we meandered a bit during our travels. Starting from Washington, DC in January, we jumped to Ireland and then spent the next two months circling Europe in no sensical way whatsoever. But what can we say, there is so much of Europe to see that we couldn’t help but head in every direction possible! From the southern point of Spain in the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland, we experienced all extremes and everything in between. The distance we’ve traveled would have been enough to walk the entire Great Wall of China over four times, or to drive from New York to Los Angeles over eleven times.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

159 Days

.

A lot can happen in 159 days, and boy has it flown by. While we started our journey in Phuket, we were quickly hit with the fact that it was the middle of winter most other places in the world. We were first hit with the cold in Ireland, where the damp and gloomy climate chilled us to the bones, thank goodness for friends with warm fireplaces and electric blankets! Marina saw snow fall for the first time in her entire life in the north of Finland, and we even camped in the middle of the Lappish wilderness after ice swimming and fishing. During the last 159 days we have traveled by plane, car, boat, bicycle, ferry, bus and by foot over bridges, through tunnels, fields, cities, deserts and deep, dark woods. A lot can happen in 159 days, and it will take us months to process all we have been through.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

27 Countries

.

Since we departed on our adventure we have stepped foot in 27 countries all over the world and when we arrived in Singapore, our last stop, Marina stepped on her 34th country, ironically enough. Through the rainy days we spent in London to the delicious food of Rome, magic in Venice, falling in love with Paris, wilderness in Finland, mysteries in Cairo and decadence in Dubai, we have tried to take in as much as we can and take pictures of everything else along the way. It was amazing to experience countries like Finland and enchanting cities like Budapest, which we had never dreamed of visiting and ended up falling in love with as well as fulfilling life long dreams of visiting the Great Pyramids in Egypt and experiencing Carnivale in Venice, Italy. While 27 countries is quite a lot, it is shockingly only just above 12% of the countries on Earth, so we’ve got our work cut out for us going forward!

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

18 Airlines

.

While we’ve heard of people making it around the world without the use of a single airplane, we didn’t have years to spend and while we took ferries, busses and trains to many locations, we turned to flight to take us most of the way. It is hard to travel the world without hearing horror stories of low cost budget airlines creating nightmare travel situations for many travelers, so we were prepped for the worst. We’ve always loved Asian airlines, and started off the trip aboard Asiana, a Korean airline which has never disappointed us. Through the US, we traveled on the American staples of American Airlines, United and Continental and through Europe we held our breath and tried out budget airlines Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air, none of which proved as awful as we planned (although I did show up to the Dublin airport wearing four pairs of pants before boarding a Ryan Air flight). 18 airlines means 18 different baggage policies, 18 different weight restrictions and 18 different in flight meals (if you can call them that). Off the top of our heads our favorite was definitely Finnair, which provided us with a first class experience in economy, as they do every traveler, a welcome relief in the ever dwindling world of in-flight comforts.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

12 Friends

.

One of the greatest gifts that travel has given us are friendships all over the world and while it is hard to be away from good friends at home, there is nothing better than seeing a familiar smiling face in an unknown city. To put it simply, we never would have been able to accomplish a trip of this magnitude without the unending kindness and support of our friends and family living all over the globe from Ireland to Israel. We’ve had friends give us their own beds, plan entire walking tours, lend us everything they had, cook meals and open up their homes and hearts to us, something we can only ever try to repay as long as we live. The wonderful thing about traveling friends is that many have been shown the same kindness while on the road and know how much it means to find a comfortable couch to sleep on or to have the use of free wifi or a washing machine after long weeks on the road. We could never have done this trip without our friends and will be eternally grateful.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

4 Continents

.

The world is a big place, a giant place, filled with the vast deserts of Africa, the bustling cities of Europe, the history of Asia and the excitement of the Americas. Through Asia, North America, Europe and Africa we were lucky enough to witness humanity on the grandest of scales, from the small street side cafe’s in Paris to the kindness of the locals in Estonia to the strangers we met in Egypt and the amazing family we got to spend Passover with in Israel, one of the highlights of our journey. Through four continents we were able to see life lived endless ways, life from many angles, life from many directions, life from many perspectives. Being able to be in someone’s shoes and see the world as they do is a blessing in itself, but to be able and experience this in vastly different parts of the world was truly amazing.

.

32,281 Miles, Zero Regrets

0 Regrets

.

Through it all we have remained strong and took on each new day with the best of our abilities. We have laughed, cried, bled and changed through it all. Exhausted as we may be, we take none of it for granted and tried to dive as deep as we could into each culture. Connecting the dots of the humanity around us is one of the greatest blessings we could have ever been given and the more we travel the more the dots of the world around us are connected. Meeting strangers who become best friends, tasting a bizarre food for the first time and falling in love with it and proving our pre conceived notions of an entire people or culture wrong is what makes travel worth it and more addictive than any drug imaginable.

And so thus concludes our journey around the world, which will surely be one of the most memorable experiences of our entire lives. An adventure which has taught us endless life lessons we are excited to pass down to those who come after us, to learn from the mistakes we have made the the triumphs we have experienced. We haven’t experienced it all, but we have experienced a lot. We haven’t seen it all, but we have seen enough to know there is a whole lot more life to be lived and a whole lot of mistakes left to make, which we are only looking forward to learning from.

So head out there, get lost, meet strangers, try everything, say yes, smile, and travel like you mean it – the world will take care of you.

.

.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

SOCIAL

10,661FansLike
12,288FollowersFollow
2,429SubscribersSubscribe