During my time living in Abu Dhabi, I grabbed the chance to discover the hidden wonders of the United Arab Emirates. One of my most memorable road trips was to an area called Hatta, situated in the mountains lying South East of Dubai, on the Oman border. Exploring the Hatta region was utterly captivating. I visited this beautiful natural scenery in May last year. I most definitely wouldn’t recommend going this time of year. Temperatures were over 40 degrees, not even the AC in my rental car could save us from sweating profusely.
After a long day of kayaking and sightseeing, we set off on our three-hour drive home to Abu Dhabi. Driving through the mountains I was challenged with nearly every type of weather possible -rain, wind, hailstones, sun, rainbows. It’s not a mystery that rain is a rare site in the UAE but the hailstones caught me off-guard. The three-hour home trip soon turned into five hours as we continuously lost our visibility with the hailstones as the rental car was blown into different lanes. On the positive side, I got the chance to witness the locals’ idea of an exhilarating evening – Wadi Bashing. Hatta is a prevalent destination for local Arabs who seek the thrill of wadi bashing through these mountainous tracks. Wadi bashing is extreme and only those that are confident enough should attempt this, so clearly my Hyundai and I were incapable of feeling the same adrenaline rush thrills as the Arabs were able to obtain in their G-Class Mercedes-Benz, Toyota Tundras and GMC Silverados.
Word of advice to any potential Hatta travellers – don’t assume the UAE is always sunny like I did, check the weather beforehand!! Road tripping to Hatta is one of the most fascinating adventures as your surroundings turn from desert to mountain. Driving through the old village gives off an incredibly different vibe than the typical feeling of superiority and pretentiousness which is often found in Dubai. For this reason, make sure you wear a cardigan while driving through the villages if you have no tinted windows. It’s important to respect the culture of the locals as you may be driving passed several Mosques, depending what route you take.
One of my most tranquil memories of living in the UAE was Kayaking in the vast lake in Hatta. There are kayaks and paddle boats for rent at the site, in which you can embark through the deep blue waters alongside the mountains. Enjoy stumbling across the many natural inhabitants, including fish and birds, on your journey as you discover new kayaking paths which are not visible from the reservoir viewpoint. Hatta is one of the very few places in the UAE which brings people from different nationalities, social groups and cultures together. I encountered other like-minded expats, tourists from all around world, holiday-makers, local Arabs, and groups of families who all visit this picturesque natural gem to relish its serene and calming beauty.