From hiking to biking, there’s much to explore in Hatta
Craggy mountain peaks, crisp air and an untamed environment make the mountain enclave of Hatta the ideal spot for mountain bikers, adventurers and nature-lovers. From taming the rough terrain on a mountain bike, to tackling the teal waters by kayak, or simply exploring the cultural town by foot, there’s much to do just over an hour away from central Dubai.
Hop onto a mountain bike
There’s possibly no better way to experience the meandering pathways of hills, wadis and farmland than from the back of a mountain bike. Multiple trails for beginner to advanced-level riders have been set up by the Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre, an initiative backed by Dubai Municipality. The trails are free to ride and are self-guided with clear markers.
Longtime Dubai resident and mountain-biking enthusiast, Andy Whitaker, visits Hatta almost every weekend for his riding fix. He recommends starting from Dubai before dawn to get the best out of the experience.
“I would head to Hatta from Dubai at 5am, to aim to be riding by 6-6:30am Ride for three hours, then take a dip in one of the pools along the Green trails,” he says. (Note: you can catch the sunrise at this time in the winter months and the pools are seasonal).
Brave visitors can choose to tackle the trails on their own or join the many hobby groups, some of which meet for weekly rides. Give yourself two-three hours for a riding session, with stops to enjoy the lush surroundings.
Hatta is also the centre of a planned packed mountain biking calendar, with endurance challenges, professional races and amateur events. Find all the details from the Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre.
Bikes can be rented from Dubai Wolfi’s Dubai or en route from Showka Bicycles (+971 50 859 1934).
Take a hike
Surrounded by the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is covered in undulating peaks and troughs perfect for hiking. You can trek along the winding wadis at the foothills of the mountains, near the border with Oman. Here you’ll see the varied terrain, from sandy patches to sharp rock.
A popular spot is behind the much-visited Hatta Dam, one of the largest water bodies in Hatta. Behind this you’ll come across rough rock, with stunning vantage points to take in the picturesque landscape, and some wildlife sightings. If you’re lucky you might even spot the elusive Arabian sand cat.
Five official hiking routes have been mapped out and are in the process of being finalised. Advanced trekkers can venture into the rugged mountains for more challenges and some surprises. Before heading out, make sure you have all the right safety gear and equipment, and enough food to sustain you through what can be a strenuous, but thrilling, experience.
See the sights
The landscapes of Hatta possess some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the UAE. Enjoy the changing scenes from desert to mountain on your way into Hatta. Once there, head south towards the Hatta Dam, which is an indelible sight: calm turquoise waters set against the rough-hewn mountains.
Another major draw is the Hatta Heritage Village in the central town. This restored museum is an example of true Emirati life in historic times. It comprises 30 buildings, including huts and houses, reconstructed as they were hundreds of years ago. The Village also houses relics and documents of past life, where you’ll learn about Dubai’s Arabian heritage from food to folklore.
Take a tour around the Village and you’ll see two watchtowers and a fort, as well as a mosque from olden times. The museum also hosts several events during UAE holidays such as National Day (Dec 2).
Hatta Heritage Village
+971 4 852 1374
Kayak through the Hatta lake
Visitors to Hatta can try something a bit different - kayaking through the vast Hatta lake (Hattakayak.com). Tourists and residents can rent kayaks or paddle boats from a kiosk at the reservoir for a relaxing ride across the clear waters of the turquoise-hued lake, where they’ll encounter natural inhabitants including fish and birds. You can venture into unseen areas through curved passageways hidden behind the mountains and not visible from the reservoir viewpoint.