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Sunset Camel Treks and Champagne Toasts

a glass of champagne in front of a sunset
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My Thanksgiving was not as traditional this year. I usually spend it with family, but this year I found myself on the back of a camel headed out into the desert to enjoy the sunset.

I wanted to try out the First Apartments on Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight from New York to Abu Dhabi November 23 and it didn’t make sense to only go for a night or two. That’s how my best friend and I wound up at the impressive Al Maha resort over Thanksgiving.

Check rates at this hotel: SPG.com| Booking.com | Orbitz | Expedia | Priceline

Among the many amenities, guests get two desert activities a day which include a late afternoon camel trek with sparkling wine toast at sunset.

I hadn’t ridden a camel since I was 6, so was a little nervous as we headed through the main pool area out to where the camels were waiting.

camels lying in the sand with blankets on them

All of them wearing knitted muzzles to prevent spitting and biting. Yay.

a close up of a horse

Soon my friend & I clambored aboard our camel, Shahid, and second from the front in a line of about 20 camels were headed out into the dunes.

a group of people riding camels

a group of people riding camels It was a beautiful ride and about 20 minutes later we disembarked and headed up a dune. Where we were greeted with a glass of Australian sparkling wine and a view of perhaps the coolest bar ever.

a man standing in a desert

And one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen.a group of people walking on a sand dune

Guests were allowed to explore the dunes and linger until the sun dipped below the horizon, then we headed back to the camels. At which point Shahid started groaning mightily and laid down.

a camel lying on the ground with a bag on its back

It did not inspire confidence. But apparently was not uncommon.

But overall we liked the experience so much that we decided to do it again the next evening. As “seasoned” riders they split us up, each of us riding a smaller, younger camel.

a woman riding a camel

Mine was clearly an overachiever, going as fast as his lead rope tied to the camel in front would allow.

a group of people riding camels on a dirt road

The sunset was gorgeous but not quite as breathtaking as the night before thanks to heavier cloud cover.

a person sitting in a desert

And instead of going prostrate, this time my camel refused to sit while waiting for us. 🙂

a group of camels in the desert

Not sure I’d want a longer camel ride but an amazing unique experience I wouldn’t have missed. For guests who aren’t in the mood for riding, you also have the option of having the hotel car drive you out to the sunset spot.

Check rates at this hotel: SPG.com| Booking.com | Orbitz | Expedia | Priceline

More from this trip

Etihad First Class Checkin & the New Etihad Lounge at JFK
Flying in the First Apartment on the Inaugural Etihad A380 JFK to Abu Dhabi
Thanksgiving Dinner 40,000 Feet Above the Atlantic
First Impressions of Dubai in Pictures
Riding Arabians and Dune Bashing in the Desert

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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