While you might go to a destination for a particular reason – such as adventure or beach-time, travel is no longer a singular experience. In most modern destinations, such as Abu Dhabi, you can have the relaxation of a spa day but also rev up the pace on days you’re feeling adventurous by taking a trip to explore the landscape.
Safaris are a great way to do that - and aren’t limited to just observing animals. Here we list some of the amazing safari experiences you can have in the UAE capital.
Evening desert safari
Deserts have a very different characteristic at night. Atmospheric, calm and pink with the sunset, a beautiful way of experiencing the Abu Dhabi desert is an evening safari that culminates in a barbecue dinner once you are out on the dunes. Some companies have activities set up such as quad biking, to make the whole thing even more exciting.
Morning desert safari
One of the more popular safaris, this iteration sees you picked up from your hotel and taken out into the desert where you experience dune-bashing (this is where you sit in a 4X4 as it accelerates and crashes around the dunes). And there’s sandboarding, of course, which involves riding on a sand dune with your feet strapped to a board. You then finish off with a short camel ride back to your pick-up spot.
After a drive out into the desert, you’ll experience something very similar to the evening safari including a barbecue dinner, and the chance to try dune-bashing and sandboarding. But once you’ve drunk your Arabian coffee and eaten your dates, the experience of staying overnight in the deep stillness of the desert almost injects the soul with peacefulness. After a comfortable night’s stay in a Bedouin-style tent, few pleasures beat eating breakfast in the early hours as the desert stirs into life.
People forget that Abu Dhabi has so much more to offer than just desert, and that there’s a great deal to explore on the water. A five-hour water tour takes in a journey by a tiny nine-seater Cessna seaplane, that leaves from Yas Island and overseas all the major landmarks such as the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi theme parks and the Emirates Palace.
The domes and spires look incredible from a height, but the best part is seeing the mangroves by air and the Arabian Gulf stretching out into the distance. The rest of the trip includes a boat cruise sailing along the eight-kilometre Corniche waterfront and back to harbour.
The drive to Jebel Hafeet, one of the highest peaks in the Emirates, is said to be one of the best because the tarmac is smooth, and the road has 21 thrilling turns. It’s supercar heaven, if you can afford to hire one for the day. The brave, however, attempt to cycle it all the way to the top, making it a great mountain safari experience. Aside from being out in the craggy landscape and peace of the foothills, there are over 500 ancient burial tombs dating back to 5,000 years in the area. For the saddle-sore, there’s a Mercure hotel that offers food and spa treatments.
Around 30 minutes from the city, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a quiet, off-the-beaten-track spot to observe birdlife. It’s the polar opposite to the modernity and bells and whistles of the city, with basic facilities and nothing around as far as the eye can see aside from wetlands. The main reason people come here: flamingos. Over 4,000 of them are in the reserve, as well as 250 other species of birds.
Discover more of Abu Dhabi at our 360 experience: abudhabi360tour.com.