There are still 4 action packed days to go at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival.
One thing that puts many off from travelling is the distance from the major population centres of the UAE; Dubai and Al Ain are over 2.5 hours away and even a journey from Abu Dhabi will see you driving for up to 90 minutes. This is peak season for the few hotels in the area and as you can imagine, rates are extremely high!
BUT there is an solution if you would like to stay a night or two… let me explain.
Hospitality is a cornerstone of Arab culture and there are a great many camps here where visitors can stay, for free, enjoying a night in a traditional tent, with showers and toilets nearby. Food is served at breakfast, lunch and dinner and ghawa (Arabic coffee) and kharak (milky tea) are “on tap”.
But how to find one/be invited to one? First take yourself to the Souq area in the complex (seriously easy to find), hook up with one of the many english speaking guides and let them know you would like to stay overnight. They will do their best to find a tent where you can lay your head for the night, although there can be no guarantees, it is more than likely they can locate somewhere for you.
So if you are making the journey, even if you do not intend to stay all night, then I urge you to take a change of clothes and a sleeping bag or a sheet plus a pillow. That way if you find yourself wanting another day at the festival, or maybe if you are just too tired to drive home, you have options!
This year sees a competition to find the best camp, due to be judged on the last day – 30th December, and the winner will receive a prize of 20k AED. The sight of the various camps illuminated in the evenings is awesome and even during the day their sheer number is impressive. Families have gone all out to create amazing camps, encouraged by the competition, but I suspect that the prestige of winning will be far more valuable than any cash prize!
Here are some other highlights from today’s festival (where the weather was cold and rainy, better forecast for tomorrow).
The festival concludes on 30th December – don’t miss it!!!