Janiqueel rides A Range Rover to the desert for a magnificent display of falconry and owl-handling, an alfresco breakfast, and wildlife viewing.
Still, when all is said, somewhere one must belong: even the soaring falcon returns to its master’s wrist.Truman Capote
“What makes this a ‘Platinum’ tour?” I wondered. It didn’t take long to find out. In fact, I started getting the idea even before the experience began as the luxury Range Rover rolled up to the hotel entrance. Did T.E. Lawrence (“Of Arabia”) know such luxury? NO. But then, he was in the desert under far different circumstances than I. He was there as part of the effort to get to the bottom of the Arab Revolt and the Palestine Campaign against the Arab Empire in world War One. I was there to enjoy the exotic environs, have coffee and eggs Benedict in a desert camp, and learn a bit about desert life and ecology.
“Janiqueel of the Desert!” I can see the movie promos now.
We learned about the falcon and its habits first hand. Literally – at one point I donned the thick leather glove and watched the magnificent bird of prey as it swooped in to partake in the snack of raw chicken meat balanced on my sheathed wrist. I must point out that I wasn’t frightened by this demonstration. Perhaps, in another life, I might become a falconer myself. Just saying… The gloves are a good protection from the sharp beak as from the scimitar-like talons, a vital tool in the bird’s hunting activities. We were also introduced to a desert owl and a barn owl. Like their colleagues, all were prolific hunters who prefer to conduct their activities at night but honored us by showing off flying and hunting skills on a bright, clear, crisp morning. Desert magic!
Watching the falcon and owl devour their bits of raw meat made me hungry – not necessarily for bits of raw meat, though. Once seated at an elegantly – appointed table, we dined alfresco. And what a breakfast it was!
Eggs Benedict served with Hollandaise sauce; Eggs Shakshouka – tortilla bread complemented with simmered onions, aubergine, and garlic with fresh tomatoes and eggs; Hand sliced smoked salmon, caviar; Cold cut platters – smoked turkey, smoked beef, chicken and beef mortadella; Selection of assorted bread and jams, butter, cream cheese, halloumi cheese; Selection of seasonal fresh fruit Arabic coffee, mineral water, fresh juice, selection of tea and coffee.
We had time to digest and savor our dark, rich coffee before boarding the Range Rovers for a short trip to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where we saw many small animals and a herd of the regal Arabian Oryx with their meter-high antlers above the white bodies with the distinctive shoulder humps. Perfectly comfortable in the stark desert surroundings, these animals survive, indeed flourish, in an environment that superficially seems alien to any life. Our knowledgable guides had the explanation – they know the desert, that’s for sure. Last stop – Royal Lake Bird Sanctuary to complete the avian theme for the morning.
Then — back to civilization having tasted desert life and learned a good deal about its ecology.
Platinum Falconry & Wildlife Safari – Janiqueel highly recommends.