Here’s all you need to know to plan your escape to nature
Hit the high road for 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 fort and small desert farms, but now attracts a wide range of adventure sports enthusiasts, in particular mountain bike riders for whom a purpose built track has just opened. Do Hatta lite staying at the green oasis of the Hatta Fort Hotel and visiting the Hatta Dam and the local heritage centre. For the fit and the fearless, pack your camping gear for a bike ride or trek through 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 other easy sightseeing, you can book a tour through companies like Arabian Adventures and Platinum Heritage who offer trips throughout the year.
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 35 years, offers rooms with a view of the Hajar Mountains, two pools including one enclosed within rocks, a hill park you can climb, and a number of outdoor activities such as archery, a driving range and air-rifle shooting.
For those with the appropriate gear, there are several camping spots, some recently built near Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre, where you’ll find barasti huts, barbecue spot and shower and toilet blocks. Otherwise discover the landscape for yourself and pitch a tent near one of the mountains. Remember to bring the appropriate equipment, especially during harsher weather.
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, 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 the inhabitants. You can 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 walk or bike to it. The area is currently being reviewed by the Architectural Heritage Department to determine the period and significance.
WHAT TO DO
While you’re there, turn up the adrenaline by mountain biking on some of the many trails, from beginner to advanced level. (See our mountain-biking itinerary). Along the way you can connect with nature as you’ll pass by farmland, natural pools and rocky hills; you might discover some hidden oases. Check out the Hatta Mountain Bike website for the most up to date routes information.
Official trekking routes are in the process of being developed, but you can take short walks into the mountains on informal tracks. Many people take a picnic to the dam, but do remember to leave the earth as you found it. You can even go kayaking across the Hatta Dam which is a popular attraction in the winter period.
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.