UAE's Hidden Gems: Seasoned off-roaders, trekkers reveal places to explore

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Dubai - The best way to experience these natural, hidden gems are either by off-road driving or by trekking.


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Fri 18 Dec 2020, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Sat 19 Dec 2020, 6:34 AM

Over the years, the UAE has gained a reputation for outstanding economic growth and glittering skylines. However, very often, residents forget about the incredible natural beauty that this diverse country is home to. Each of the seven Emirates has its own unique natural areas that are, for the most part, untouched and unaltered by man.

The best way to experience these natural, hidden gems are either by off-road driving or by trekking, according to thrill-seekers, nature lovers and motorheads.

Off-roading is a big part of UAE culture, said seasoned off-road drivers and trekking experts. ,

Indian vlogger Hameed Yousuf, who runs the popular video blog HamidVlogs is an active member of the off-road driving group Desert Nation. “We are a group of about 60 actives off-road drivers, with about 110 members. We meet every Friday at 6.45am, and in a couple of hours, we’re all in the desert,” said Hamid.

“It’s a big part of UAE’s culture and I’ve been off-roading for aeons now. We make about 52 trips a year, and we had completely stopped when Covid-19 hit. Now, it has picked up again. We head into the desert with multiple convoys with about 10 cars each.

“In the desert, everyone is equal. There are a lot of rash drivers out there, but, for us, off-road driving is more about exploring new desert areas in the UAE and coming together with nature.”

Best off-road tracks, deserts in the UAE

The vlogger said some of the best spots for off-roading in the UAE are - Mleiha, Big Red – One of the biggest dunes in the UAE, located in Sharjah, Pink Slink, (near Badayer), and Liwa. “Fossil Rock is another hot spot for off-roaders, that is if you’re into heritage and culture. “The ultimate dunes are in Liwa, which is the Rolls Royce of all desert. Liwa is not for the faint-hearted, it is for extreme off-roaders. However, it is also the most beautiful place in the country,” he added.

Sunny Rajput, another Indian off-road enthusiast, part of Ramla Riders group. “If you are into archaeology, Fossil Rock is very enjoyable. For those who want to take it up a notch must try Devil’s Drop or Jeepers Mountain in Sharjah. A friendlier place would be Al Qudra in Dubai,” he explained.

A trekkers paradise

Fifty-one-year-old Abu Dhabi resident Nishad Kaippally, born and raised in the UAE, has probably explored every nook and corner of the country, including the UAE’s massive desert region the south of the country. “A small group of five to six of us wake up in the morning at 3am and we head out. We once did 1,058km in 17 hours in the southern part of the UAE. It was really beautiful.”

A geological enthusiast, Kaippally treks out of love for natural history and geological exploration. “We don’t hike for the heck of it. I also take some specimens to teach kids about geology. We also head over there with a big bag and ensure that all the rubbish is picked, ours and other peoples,” he said.

‘Don’t leave your rubbish behind’

“It sends across a message: these are not places that are meant to be littered. I have a pacemaker as well and I climb all the way to the top,” he added.

Kaipally also recommends that inexperienced people should not go to these areas unprepared. “People go with their four-wheel drives or salon cars and get stuck there, that is risky. This is wilderness, there is no 3G, no phone connection,” he added.

Kaippally’s personal trekking spots are Ghalila, Jebel Yanas, Ghub Valley, Spectrum Canyon, Leopard Canyon, and Wadi Bih.

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