Abu Dhabi has launched six new desert driving routes designed to make the most of the emirate’s dune-surrounded location.
The Off road driving in Abu Dhabi project consists of off-roading routes crossing Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafrah and Al Ain. Adventure-seekers can follow the routes to head out for a desert experience in their own vehicles. Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the routes are suitable for anyone with a 4×4, whether you are a complete beginner or a more advanced desert driver.
Experience sun-kissed dunes, endless desertscapes and spot camels along the way!
From Al Remah to Al Ain
The routes include Al Remah, Al Ain to White Sands, the Hameem Loop, Umm Al Oush, Liwa Crossing and Al Khazna. Each is available to follow on Google maps to help drivers stay on course and there’s a comprehensive checklist and instructions to ensure everyone remains safe on and off road.
A guide to Abu Dhabi’s new off-roading routes
Designed to be accessible to anyone, the Al Remah Route takes between six and eight hours to complete since it is 67 kilometres. It starts at a camel farm just off the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road and winds past the camel racing track taking towards Telal Nature Reserve then taking in the Zaman Lawal Heritage Village and Naqrah Lake. With high dunes and long sandy valleys, there are lots of opportunities for dune-bashing and fun-driving, as well as camping opportunities.
Al Ain To White Sands
This route winds through Liwa’s dunes and can be completed in four to eight hours comprising of a 157-kilometre journey, it can also be done in either direction. It’s a good pick for those who want to spot camels as they drive, since it crosses several camel farms. There are also lots of good remote camping spots around the Abu Hiraybah area if you fancy a night under the stars.
For drivers with a bit of experience, the Hameem Loop is an adrenalin-filled route with towering dunes, deep bowls and slip faces. It takes about five hours to complete in a 55 kilometre journey, and travellers can expect to see plenty of gazelle, camels and goats. There’s also an abandoned Nissan Patrol surrounded by desert dunes and a disused solar power bank to look out for.
Umm Al Oush
Not recommended for beginners, the Umm Al Oush route is a deceptive trail that encounters steep climbs, sharp drops and highly technical dunes in a 60 kilometre journey. Starting at the services area near Al Quo’a, this is one for those heading into the desert with a local operator or with plenty of desert driving know-how. Pick a spot along the route for overnight camping and you’ll feel as if you have the desert entirely to yourself.
For anyone who craves a challenge, this is the one to try. The Liwa crossing route takes up to two days to complete as it passes over some of the country’s largest sand dunes in a 109-kilometre stretch. It’s also entirely remote and to master a good drive, you’ll need to navigate some tricky desert crossings alongside some side sloping and cresting. But the challenge comes with its own rewards. From the forests near Al Mirayr to the salt paths near Bateen Liwa, it’s worth the journey. There are plenty of places to pitch a tent, and you’re also right beside the five-star Qasr Al Sarab Resort by Anantara, if all that driving has you craving a night of luxury.
Shorter than the other advanced routes but no less difficult, the Al Khazna route can be completed by experienced drivers in about four hours in a 45 kilometres distance. Expect steep climbs, sharp drops, deep bowls and highly technical dunes – this route is easier to tackle with a long wheel-based car. Enjoy the surrounding landscapes that include an oasis, camping area, starfish dunes and a desert safari camp on the route if you want to spend the night.