As many people are now taking advantage of the air bridge between the UK and UAE, we wanted to share somethings you can do that are little more off the beaten track. The UAE and in particular Dubai is synonymous for its lavish beach hotels, great restaurants and outstanding shopping. Very few people (unless you live there) know about the adventures which can be had outside of the big cities such as Dubai. And we are not referring to desert dune bashing, camel rides or camps. But, trekking or if you are little more energetic trail running or mountain biking in the rugged mountains towards the East and North East of the country.
Over the years many trekking and recreational paths have opened in the region but there are a few which we feel are worth a visit whilst visiting the region, perfect for those seeking a little respite from the dazzling city lights and buzzing metropolis of the cities. Since The Aspiration Group Travel team have been in undated with travel requests to the Dubai this week we wanted to share our favourite spots with you.
Masafi is a town in the northeast of the United Arab Emirates. It’s at the base of the Hajar Mountains, straddling the border of Fujairah and Ras Al Khamaih Emirates, which is about a 1 and 20 minutes drive from Dubai. Masafi, depending on the time of year you will see a different landscape in these parts. The great thing about these trails is that there are many towns and villages in close proximity to walk, bike or drive to through. See the life as it used to be and how its been retained. The houses, their beautiful ornate doors which are famous of this region kept in great condition. Just west of the main town the daily Friday Market offers carpets, ceramics and various produce. Near by is the palm tree surrounded and restored Masafi fortress and the underground waterway system. The town marks the start of Wadi Ham, seasonally flooded but a good starting point for many trails. During the drier season there are more trails available but when the rains arrive it is advisable to stay on higher well used trails to avoid sudden surge of water gushing down the Wadis. This region is truly gorgeous, rugged with varied landscape, streams, wadis and not forgetting the local life which give gives you the sense you have stepped back in time. You would certainly get a different yet wonderful insight to the country and its culture when visiting this area.
Wadi Shawka, one of the easily accessible and more popular areas due to its proximity to Dubai. There are a few easy routes which can be taken close to the Damn or routes which follows the wadi to rock pools where you can even take a dip. This area is probably the most popular and can get rather busy in the mornings on a weekend. However, once in the hills you feel alone again as everyone disperses. The Damn here is the focal point but venture further afield and you will find great spots for picnics, resting points and rock pools. The rock pools vary in size depending on the season but some still have water in them well into the summer months and can be a respite in the heat. There are also many date farms scattered on the fringes of the wadi which gives the sensation that you have stumbled across a desert oasis. If you are lucky enough and there furing the season the farmers hand out freshly picked dates. Definitely the best energy boost one could ask for whilst trekking through the hills. A truly an authentic experience and only about a 45 minute car journey from Dubai and one which is great for beginners.
Further on from Wadi Shawka is Hatta. The area has grown in popularity over the years and has become an adventure playground. There is so much more on offer here than the more rural trails. There are even hotels, glamping, trailer hotels or more simple camping areas. These are generally full from October till April as they are extremely popular and in particular on the weekends. Try staying in a luxury trailer on the side of the stream which leads to the Hatta Damn and wake up having your coffee on the deck to the sound of the birds. It certainly a different to what most tourists experience when they visit Dubai. As this place is some what more commercial the area is also vast so you can find peaceful trails or running tracks. But to add to this visitors can also do an array of other activities which include, kayaking on the damn (been around for years but can get extremely crowded on Weekends during the cooler months) there are mountain bike trails which is so advanced that the trails are colour coded based on their difficulties just like you would find on ski slopes of the alps. And of course all trails lead back to the cafes and food trucks available to serve you after your exhausting adventure. Would highly recommend this area for families.
While trekking in the UAE is safe and even the novice trekker or runner can manage the routes, we would like to highlight a few points to be mindful of. First and foremost, always remember to take enough water with you, a hat, sun some sun cream. Other note worth items are, if it is wet season, please stay on higher ground and avoid deep wadis, a sudden down pour could set the wadis to gush quickly with major force. Stick to the trails, many are clearly marked or worn down so you cannot avoid them. The mountains are very rocky and have a lot of loose slate like stones so proper foot attire is also needed. Most importantly ENJOY!
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