Believe it or not there are a great amount of different hiking trails in the UAE. Each Emirate holds a different wonder and while it may not be the Swiss Alps, the UAE does boast its own natural beauty.
A hiking trail for a beginner can be defined in several ways whether by the terrain, inclination or duration. Specifically in UAE, the heat plays a big factor in determining what is most suitable for you as a lot of trails have little to no shade. And as always, your physical fitness and appropriate footwear will have a big impact on how enjoyable your day will be.
With those factors aside, when starting on the UAE trails we recommend Shawka first for its plentiful trails, relatively flat terrain, short duration hikes, few trees for shading, and close proximity to Dubai.
Our Shawka to the Camel Farm is a great beginner hike that is family friendly and suitable for adults as well as kids of all ages to join. It is also an educational opportunity as we introduce you to the flora, fauna and wildlife of UAE. The hike takes you to a local camel farm that also has goats, chickens and other animals. If you’re lucky, in season, we can even see the live birth of new baby camels! It is a short duration, taking around 3-4 hours so you can arrive home when the rest of the people are just getting out of bed, and you get to enjoy the remainder of your day back home.
There are several other routes in the Shawka area which vary in scenery such as the Shawka Dam loop where you can gain some elevation, have some wonderful panoramic views, and where you can see the Shawka Dam full with water.
Khor Fakkan, one of the newest and safest trails developed recently is one that fuses history and exercise together. Located at the Al Rabi Tower in Khor Fakkan, on the East coast near Fujeirah.
Al Rabi Tower is a fort that was built in 1915 and was part of the defence network in Khor Fakkan. The Tower overlooks the town and was used to send warnings to other nearby watchtowers. It was first constructed in 1915 during the reign of Sheikh Said bin Hamad Al Qassimi.
The trail starts at the Tower itself and follows a well managed and popular trail that zigzags up the mountain and gifts you lots of photo ops over Khor Fakkan and the Indian Ocean. Although family friendly, the trail elevation gain is still quite significant and climbs approximately 250m from the trail start. Those not accustomed to hiking in the UAE in the heat should be aware that although this is technically not a difficult hike, that this hike should not be underestimated. In saying that, this is very doable for families with kids 8 years and above, and is sure to keep the kids interested. The trek itself will take about 3-4 hours round trip with lots of rest stops to soak in the views.
There are various vantage and rest stops along the way, and the hiking trail is out-and-back, so if you get tired you can always go back the same way you came. Make sure you don't underestimate the trail and take plenty of fluids and sun protection as there is little shade along the way.
One of the best introductory beginners hike is the Wadi Sena Hike near Fujeirah. The trail starts at a small town at the foot of the mountain. The trail winds up the dusty zigzag road frequented by hikers, mountain bikers and campers. The hiking trail takes you past several places of note including cemeteries and ancient buildings no longer in use. Keep an eye out for the “blue lizard” of the UAE, the Sinai Agama!
This little guy turns blue in mating season in order to attract the opposite sex. Some of them turn blue in total, while others only turn blue around their heads and neck. They are usually timid, but move slowly enough and you may get close to take some beautiful snaps.
The view at the top of the plateau is surreal, with the views towards the town of Halah mezmerising. There are plenty of areas for campsites, and hikers usually enjoy the quiet moment up there before returning back the same way. An alternate route can give you a bit more of a challenge. But generally this route is manageable by all from the ages of 5 and above.
Allow 3 hours on average with kids for a climb of 300m over a total hike distance of 7km.
In Hatta there are some wonderful areas to roam and explore including a wadi with flowing water through at certain times of the year including the possibility to joyfully swim. It is a marvel to see the amount of greenery surrounding the wadi making Hatta an especially green Emirate.
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