When one thinks about a country like the United Arab Emirates probably the first few things that come to mind are the glamorous city of Dubai, Burj Khailfa, all the shopping malls, and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. But besides all the glitz a city as glamorous as Dubai can offer, there is more to UAE than meets the eye. The UAE, unlike Kuwait where I used to live for 4 years, has a diverse geography. There are mountains, wadis, and beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed if one is willing to drive for an hour or two outside shimmering Dubai. That’s exactly what Tobias and I did a couple of weeks ago when we decided to see more of the country where we are both residents now. We took off to visit Hatta.
Hatta is the inland exclave of the Dubai Emirate. It is about 130-something kilometers east of Dubai, 135 exactly from Downtown Dubai to Hatta Dam via Sharjah-Kalba road or the E102. Hatta is nestled comfortably in the Hajar Mountains with borders to the Sultanate of Oman. It was formerly a part of Oman but finding himself unable to defend it against the Buraimi tribe, the Omani Sultan transferred its territory. It is such a perfect destination in the UAE for those who want to escape the summer heat and humidity of the coast.
The most famous aspect of Hatta is its dam specially with the growing popularity of kayaking its lake. It makes for a lovely day trip, but that laid-back town has more to offer. When Tobias and I visited, we were curious to explore the Hatta Wadi Hub. It is an activities center that includes a food-truck area, camping and glamping opportunities, and is packed with activities to keep its visitors busy.
Hatta Wadi Hub offers two types of accommodation on site, camping and glamping. A camping pitch comes at the cost of 99 AED per night while a glamping unit costs between 700 to 1100 AED per night depending on the size and capacity of the unit. As much as it would have been nice to spend the night in one of those cozy lodges with their comfy beds and hill-top views, Tobias and I were longing for a night of classic camping. We were all geared up and decided on spending the night in the outdoors so a camping pitch, that came with lots of amenities, it was for us.
The pitch was quite spacious and can fit a 3-person tent easily (that’s the tent Tobias and I had). The camping pitch has a space designated for parking a car and that was very convenient. Each pitch comes with a picnic table, a space dedicated for a bonfire, a BBQ area, and a trash bin that gets emptied by the staff each morning. There was a nearby public toilet/bathroom with soap and hot water for campers. For 99 AED, that was such a great deal and what made it even more worthy was the view. We were surrounded by mountains that had a layer of greenery due to all the rain UAE has been experiencing the past few weeks. We would wake up in the morning to the sun shining on our tent and birds filling the air with music. It has been quite an awfully long time for me since I last went camping. I realized how terribly I missed those camping trips I used to go on when I lived in Egypt. I have immensely missed the mountains and the peacefulness that surrounds me whenever I’m in their presence. It was pleasant to be in the company of the outdoors. That was such a wonderful camping experience, we absolutely loved it and can’t wait to go camping there again 😊 We spent two nights camping there.
There is a wide range of activities for all outdoor enthusiasts over here. The hub offers animal rides, kayaking the Hatta dam with Hatta Kayak, hiking, mountain biking, and fun activities such as zorbing, archery, axe throwing, mountain carting, trampoline for both kids and adults, and wall climbing just to name a few. Not all activities were operative when we visited but there was a few of them to keep you going. Make sure to drop them a call in advance if you want to ask about a specific activity.
Being a guest at the Hatta Wadi Hub comes with perks as all guests are entitled to a 50% discount on the Hatta Kayak and a 20-25% discount on the on-site activities. The friendly staff at the information desk will be more than happy to assist you with booking any activity you feel like doing. Tobias and I went kayaking and enjoyed it tremendously despite the weather being bloody windy that day! It was quite difficult to steer the kayak as it tended to drift depending on the direction of the wind. I wouldn’t recommend kayaking in windy weather if you are looking for a leisurely stroll over the emerald green waters of the dam’s lake.
Hungry? No problem! The hub has a food truck area so if you fancy a pizza or a burger that won’t be an issue. And if you can’t make it up in the morning without that cup of coffee, they also got that sorted out for you at the Hatta Wild Café with their specialty coffee. For the ultimate camping experience, Tobias and I had our own portable kitchen with a camping stove and utensils. In the morning we would use the stove to make coffee to drink with our breakfast and in the evening, we would use it to prepare a dinner that consisted of soup and noodles, or couscous sprinkled with a Rio Marie salatuna (a trick that I picked up from a friend). We just enjoyed the surroundings having our meals on the picnic table 🙂
Besides the hub and all that it offers, the town of Hatta was also enjoyable. Driving through was extremely nice with mountains all around us. Visiting the dam is quite popular even with those who won’t be kayaking. I loved the old houses and the fact that I hardly saw a tall building wherever I went. While driving to the dam, we saw those amazing murals on some houses and a sign for a hiking trail between the farms which leads to the dam. We parked that car at the Hatta Market For Fish Meat And Vegetables (that’s what you need to write in google maps to find that spot) and took to the trail which is close by after the murals on the wall. We walked through the greenery of the farmlands with palm trees everywhere and a falaj* following by next to us. The terrain turned into mountainous and instead of the lush greenery, there were goats grazing the very little greenery that existed on the rocky hills. It was difficult to follow the track after a while and we were a little tired, so we walked back but we happened to know, from a couple we ran into on our way back, that the trail eventually leads to the Hatta dam!
It may seem like nothing much but the simplicity of what that adorable little town of Hatta offers its visitors was just wonderful. It makes for a great getaway on a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. I can’t wait to go back and explore more 😊
More photos and videos of that trip are saved in my instagram under the highlighted story Hatta – UAE
*falaj is what irrigation channels in the UAE are called