Here’s all you need to know to plan your escape to nature
Hit the open road and head to Dubai’s Hajar Mountain range, literally translated as rocky mountains. Red grey rock outcrops contrast against blue gleaming bodies of water in an ethereal landscape. Hatta was once known only for its historic fort and small desert farms, but now attracts a wide range of adventure sports enthusiasts, in particular mountain bike riders and watersports fans. Spend the night nestled in the green oasis of the Hatta Fort Hotel or the newly-opened Damani Lodges and Sedr Trailers, experience honey harvesting at the Hatta Honey Bee Garden, or try your hand at archery at Hatta Wadi Hub. For the fit and the fearless, pack your camping gear for a bike ride or trek through the unforgettable dreamlike landscapes.
Find out how to get to Hatta, where to stay, what to pack and what to do.
HOW TO GET THERE
Hatta is located 130km south-east of central Dubai and it takes approximately 90 minutes to get there by road, noting that you will need to take the long way around Oman to avoid the border crossing which is currently closed. The scenic journey is an experience on its own, with the surrounding terrain morphing from golden sands to deep red mountains. The best route from Dubai is from E102 (Sharjah-Kalba Road) via E611 (Emirates Road).
If you are short on time or would like to combine the trip with easy sightseeing, contact Arabian Adventures and Platinum Heritage to book a range of tours, available all through the year. You can also try your hand at more offbeat activities such as zorbing, axe-throwing and wall-climbing at Hatta Wadi Hub.
WHERE TO STAY
Hatta is perfect for a day trip (see our itinerary here) but if you’d like to bask in the natural scenery a little longer you can book a chalet at the Hatta Fort Hotel. The four-star resort, which has been accommodating guests for over three decades, offers rooms with spectacular views of the Hajar Mountains. Guests can also make the most of the resort's pools, a hill park you can climb, and a number of outdoor activities such as archery, golf and air-rifle shooting. For those who want to feel closer to nature, a stay at new Hatta Sedr Trailer park or the idyllic Hatta Damani Lodges are definitely worth checking out too.
For those with the appropriate gear, there are several camping spots to consider, including some recently built near Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre. Here you’ll find barasti huts, barbecue spots and shower blocks and restrooms. Otherwise discover the landscape for yourself and pitch a tent near one of the mountains. Remember to bring all your essential equipment, especially during harsher weather, so you're not caught out in emergencies.
WHAT TO SEE
Apart from the beautiful natural scenery, Hatta is one of the oldest preserved heritage areas in the UAE. Start your journey with a scenic drive into town, where you’ll be greeted by the Hatta Fort Hotel, then turn into the central village and drive through to reach the Hatta Dam viewpoint. Park your car and take a small hike down to see a stunning blue lake or go kayaking on its deep blue waters.
On your return, you can visit the Hatta Heritage Village, which showcases life in ancient times and features the Hatta Fort within its bounds. Here you’ll see restored houses and huts, and learn about the history of early inhabitants. You can also visit the nearby Hatta Library to read up further on the emirate’s history and people.
Mountain bikers on the outer trails can travel through a newly discovered heritage area, which is a traditional village site nestled in the heart of the mountainside. It is unreachable by car, but you can definitely walk or bike to it. The area is currently being reviewed by the Architectural Heritage Department to determine its historical influence and significance.
WHAT TO DO
While you're there, turn up the adventure quotient by mountain biking at dedicated trails that cater to all levels of abilities (see our mountain-biking itinerary). Along the way you can connect with nature as you pass by farmlands, natural pools and rocky hills; you might even discover some hidden oases. Check out Hatta Wadi Hub and Hatta Mountain Trailbike (MTB) Centre for up-to-date cycling trails and information. Mountain biking lessons are also available, so you can learn while exploring the rugged terrain.
Swap the wheels for a canoe and kayak across the Hatta Dam, a popular attraction during the cooler winter months. Many people pack a picnic when visiting the Hatta Dam, but do remember to leave the grounds as you found it.
WHAT TO BRING
Hatta’s climate is cooler than central Dubai, given its higher altitude. Nights can get chilly during the winter, so bring a light jacket. If you’re planning on taking part in any outdoor activities, ensure you have the right safety gear, equipment and emergency supplies. For mountain bikers, it is recommended you have a GPS tracker, battery pack and working mobile phone, plus ample hydration supplies. Note that mobile phone coverage is patchy in some areas of the mountain.
Whether it’s mountain biking, hiking or camping, Hatta is the ideal destination for thrill-seekers and nature-lovers, check out our must-do list now.