Pack up and head out of the city to explore what’s on offer away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai.
Words by Colin Armstrong
Dubai is full of wonderful hotels that demand attention, but sometimes you just want to experience something a bit different. The weather is cooler and it’s the perfect time of year to venture outdoors and see more of the beautiful country that we live in with a camping trip to Abu Dhabi.
From sleeping in a tent beneath the night sky to a resort nestled in the middle of rolling dunes, here are five options a for a short break in the emirate that’s off the beaten track.
Places to pitch up
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous then why not give camping a try? The UAE is home to so many great places where you can spend a night under the stars, from coastal locations to the heart of the desert, far from the light and noise of the city.
But before you pack a bag and set off, there a few things to keep in mind. You will need a tent, a sleeping bag and water, obviously, but could also do with packing enough food, warm clothes for the chilly nights, a camping chair for comfort and a spade, for if your car gets stuck in the sand.
Other things to keep in mind are not to go off-road if your vehicle isn’t adequate, always plan your route, let other people know where you will be and if you’re venturing onto the dunes, bring a tow rope and let your tyre pressure down by half so that you’re prepared for the terrain.
When pitching your tent, remember to camp away from the water if on the beach as tides can change and to avoid camping at the foot of a dune where other drivers may not see you: safety first. Last but not least, clear up all your litter and leave the sites as you found it and keep the emirates beautiful.
Now you know what to do and what you’ll need, where can you enjoy some camping in Abu Dhabi?
Looking for a spectacular backdrop? Take a trip down south towards the Moreeb Dune and enjoy amazing views of the 300m-high slope that featured in Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens as you embrace the ambience of the desert. Location: take the E45 South of Madinat Zayed and follow signs for Tal Moreeb.
Not ideal for first-timers or single vehicles, the Liwa Desert is unlike anything else for an overnight stay. Enjoy panoramic views of rolling dunes in what is part of the world’s largest contiguous sand desert, stretching as far as the eye can see. Enjoy a spot of dune bashing as you find the perfect place to stop for the evening. Location: drive down the E65 towards Hamim and set your GPS for 22.884421,54.343872
Located just a 30-minute drive from the city, Al Wathba is a good option for first-timers and intermediate campers. Enjoy the feeling of being out of the city without finding yourself isolated in the middle of the desert and enjoy a daytime visit to the nearby wetlands before returning to your campsite to sleep. Location: 24.11648, 54.786194
Ideal for first-timers and families, this green space in the heart of Al Ain has a designated camping zone where you can set up for a night’s stay. While in the area you can also access the natural hot springs with a picturesque backdrop of the mountains that surround the Garden City. Location: at the foot of Jebel Hafeet next to Wadi Adventure, Al Ain.
More about the glamping?
Sleep under the stars and experience aspects of traditional Bedouin culture by visiting Arabian Nights Village. Offering a range of accommodation to cater to your comfort level, take your pick from sleeping in a tent, room or suite in the heart of the desert.
There’s a range of activities to try, including traditional pastimes such as falconry, henna painting and camel trekking, as well as more adrenaline-fuelled entertainment like sand sledding, quad biking or a desert safari. Guests enjoy authentic Arabian and Emirati dishes at Al Maqam restaurant. From AED 820 for tented accommodation. Follow signs for Arabian Nights Village, off the Abu Dhabi Al Ain Road, Al Khatim. Contact: 02 207 8999, arabiannightsvillage.com
Embrace your adventurous side and sign up for an overnight stay in the sands with Abu Dhabi Desert Safari. Groups are picked up from the city and driven to Al Khatim, where they can start their experience with a 45-minute dune bashing experience before arriving at the campsite.
Included in the package are a visit to a camel farm, camel rides, a falcon show, belly dancing, henna painting, picture opportunities in local dress and memorable sunsets. Bed down in a tent and enjoy a night of stargazing before drifting off amongst the dunes. AED 495 per person. Al Khatim. Contact: 050 966 0720, abudhabidesertsafari.org