One of the amazing benefits of living amidst the wonderfully diverse landscape of Abu Dhabi is the opportunity for off-road driving. The region’s glorious deserts provide the perfect terrain for people interested and skilled enough to take on the challenge. The Abu Dhabi government has developed different routes where residents can go off-road driving in Abu Dhabi and enjoy an exhilarating break from life’s norms.
ROUTES FOR OFF-ROAD DRIVING IN ABU DHABI
Dune bashing is a widely popular activity in the UAE. Many people go on road trips around the country. Multiple companies offer their services to residents and visitors who want to enjoy an adrenaline-rushing adventure. However, if you prefer to drive yourself and have the skillset to take on the challenge, off-roading will definitely get your adrenaline pumping.
Ready for your next off-road driving adventure? Here’s where you can head to in the UAE’s capital:
This is one of the simpler routes for off-road driving in Abu Dhabi. Measuring 67 km, it takes between six and eight hours to complete the entire venture. So, even if you are not an experienced driver, this is a good route to start your off-road desert adventures.
The journey starts at the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road. Don’t forget to check out the camel racing track when heading towards Telal Nature Reserve (where deer sighting is common, so be on the look-out!). Also on this route you’ll pass by the Zaman Lawal Heritage Village and a popular camping spot at Sweihan.
AL AIN TO WHITE SANDS
While this off-road driving route in Abu Dhabi is fairly long, the competency requirements aren’t overly challenging. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less thrilling. Some dunes on this route are almost 150m, so it might be best to travel on an empty stomach! Usually, it takes around 8 hours to cover the complete route. For about 30% of the total ride, you will drive on a gatch track (improved sand overlaid with limestone). So, the driver can relax a bit. You will also find local farmers trotting along these tracks.
There are several camel farms along this route. In fact, camels being trained for racing is a common sight. Gazelles roam around too. Plus, you can find many beautiful spots for camping in and around the Abu Hiraybah area.
This is another relatively short but an exhilarating route for off-road driving in Abu Dhabi. The 80 km long course has deep bowls, slip faces and towering dunes. Wild animals also trot around at various locations, so it’s best to remain cautious. A couple of fascinatingly notable landmarks of this 5-hour long journey are the abandoned Nissan Patrol and deserted solar power bank.
Hameem Loop is also one of the challenging off-road desert adventures in Abu Dhabi. This means there should be at least one experienced driver. Perhaps you can travel with a professional driver who can mentor and guide an amateur driver who is learning the ropes of off-road driving.
This 45 km off-road driving route in Abu Dhabi is best-suited for advanced drivers and takes almost four hours to complete. You have to bring your ‘a-game’ for this route as there are deep bowls, sharp drops and steep climbs. Though the journey takes a lot of concentration on the driver’s part, it is well worth the effort. The stunning surroundings include an oasis and a starfish dune. There’s also a desert safari camp on the route.
LIWA CROSSING ROUTE
Another popular route for off-road driving in Abu Dhabi is the Liwa Crossing Route set just above 100 km. You need some experience to master this route as you’ll pass through some difficult desert crossings, side slopping and cresting. Ideally, you would want to have at least two drivers per vehicle as it takes around 48 hours to cover it the route entirely. Liwa Crossing is the UAE’s largest dune, so you might need to carry extra fuel.
Also, the area is secluded, and it isn’t easy to find supplies here. It is recommended to pack everything you could need. Nature lovers will definitely be pleased with the views along the route. The forest near Al Mirayr and salt paths close to Bateen Liwa are well worth seeing. You also have the ‘vice-versa’ options of outdoor camping or a night of luxury at a nearby resort.
UMM AL OUSH ROUTE
Sharp drops and steep climbs – this is a route for the most skilled drivers. Some dunes are almost 250 metres meaning it’s really not ideal for beginners. A car with a long wheelbase is recommended for this journey that starts at Al Quo’a. Local knowledge can be beneficial, so many people opt to go with a local operator. The sights are stunningly beautiful, so camping can be fun, especially for those who love photography.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR AN OFF-ROAD DRIVING TOUR IN ABU DHABI?
While off-road driving in Abu Dhabi is hugely enjoyable, it’s not without risk. They are certain guidelines that should be followed. A driver should never go out on these routes alone. It’s always better to have three 4×4 vehicles that are fully insured and fully serviced in the touring party. Off-road driving route maps should be on hand at all times. Check spare tyres and ensure all essentials are being carried, including food, water and a first-aid kit.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM EXPERIENCE REQUIRED FOR OFF-ROADING?
You should have the proper training and experience to drive off-road. There are several tour companies in Abu Dhabi that can help you get acquainted. Also be aware that the difficulty of dune crossing in deserts can alter drastically with the weather conditions.
CAN WE GO CAMPING AFTER THE ADVENTURE?
Desert camping and spending a night under the clear skies is an incredible experience. But, it would help if you are prepared for it before heading out. You can book a trip with a tour company or consider renting or buying camping equipment. Tent and sleeping bags are widely available at reasonable rates.
IS IT SAFE TO CAMP OVERNIGHT?
Yes, camping is completely safe. As long as you have prepared well for your trip, there should be no trouble.
CAN YOU GO OFF-ROADING IN DUBAI?
Yes, you can. Read all about it in our off-roading in Dubai guide.
That completes our review of the glorious routes for off-road driving in Abu Dhabi. Driving in the desert is a cathartic experience for many. The long ride offers the chance of a much-needed battery recharge and a dispersal of life’s stress. All the aforementioned routes provide you with a chance to explore the natural beauty that Abu Dhabi has to offer and enjoy the simple things in life.
If you aren’t so sure about your driving skills, get in touch with any of these reputable Abu Dhabi desert safari companies. You can opt for a morning or overnight desert safari depending on your preference. Another fascinating journey is the road trip from Salalah from Dubai.
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