The seasons in the United Arab Emirates are quite different from other places in the world. For one, the place doesn’t get any snow during winter, although it can get icy cold, especially in the oases. Still, winters in the UAE are one season that most people – locals and tourists alike – look forward to every year. Why? Because it’s the best time to enjoy some cool summer fun. You see, summer activities elsewhere are best done during wintertime in the UAE, which runs between December and March. You can even start a few months early, as the temperature already begins to drop in October.
Begin what, you ask? From camping out in the Dubai desert to visiting some of the best theme parks in Abu Dhabi, here are five coolest adventures you can do for an Emirati-style winter vacation:
1. Camp out in the desert
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During summer, it can become too hot to do anything enjoyable outdoors in the Middle East. This makes wintertime the best season for camping in the UAE.
With the country’s gorgeous deserts as the venue, camping in the country is best spent enjoying a delicious barbeque, watching the sunset and, eventually, gazing into the stars. There are also plenty of desert safaris and dune bashing activities you can join if you’re into a more adrenaline-pumping desert adventure.
In Dubai, you can choose from several camping spots, including:
- Al Aweer
- Al Khawaneej
- The Al Qudra Lakes
In Abu Dhabi, there’s Liwa, Al Ain, and Dalma Island. Liwa Oasis is a particularly famous area for those with experience in the desert driving routes.
In Ras Al Khaimah, the Long Beach Campground is your best bet. Here, you can do many other activities, like kayaking, kite flying, and even beach volleyball.
Whichever camping site you choose, don’t forget to bring all the essentials to make your trip more enjoyable, including:
- Sleeping bags
And remember to let a family member or a close friend know where you’re going. You can never be too careful when going on an adventure on your own.
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2. Explore nature
Nature exploration is quite different in the UAE. But it’s a good kind of different.
Given its uniquely diverse terrain, you’ll find plenty of nature trails in and around Dubai. One example is Hatta.
Located one hour away from the City of Gold, Hatta is a favorite destination for adventurers, mountain bikers, and all sorts of nature lovers. It has the perfect environment for outdoor activities like biking and hiking. Plus, it is filled with breathtaking views that will be engraved in your memory forever.
Schedule your visit during the cooler months of December through March. While you’re there, be sure to head out to the turquoise lake by kayaking or via a paddleboat.
You should also consider joining groups of mountain bikers in exploring the hills and wadis of Hatta. The scenic vistas and lush surroundings will take your breath away as you ride through the rocky terrain.
3. Enjoy water adventures
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Being a predominantly desert country doesn’t necessarily mean the UAE lacks water-based adventures. In fact, you’ll find one of its best water parks at the heart of the country.
Yas Waterworld offers different levels of thrills, namely:
- Adrenaline Rush
- Exciting Adventure
- Moving and Grooving
- Young Fun
In each of these levels, you’ll find various water adventures that bring new meaning to the phrase “winter excitement,” including:
One of Yas Island’s grand-scale activities, Falcon’s Falaj is a six-person rafting adventure hailed as the Middle East’s longest mammoth water coaster ride, running at over 980 feet. In fact, it seems that its main objective is to make people scream, with so many rapids, twists, turns, and drops incorporated into the ride.
Deemed one of the biggest highlights of the entire park, Dawwama consists of the main funnel where guests can zoom from a whopping 65-foot height. The ride includes a single-but-special craft that can carry six people through the thrilling experience.
Also considered the first and largest hydromagnetic-powered six-person tornado slide in the world, Dawwama is a ride that attempts to replicate the experience of being whisked around inside a tornado.
As a surfable sheet wave and the biggest FlowBarrel 10 Double globally, Bubble’s Barrel is the perfect ride for wannabe surfers. Unlike most wave pools, it has a breaking wave on both the left and right sides, allowing two people to ride it together.
Pumping 10-foot waves almost every time, the wave machine powering the attraction generates 1,250 horsepower that pushes out a jaw-dropping 7,000 liters of water per second. Despite its massive power, Bubble’s Barrel is the best place to hone your bodyboarding and flow boarding skills (so long as you’re prepared to get dumped into the water once in a while, that is).
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4. Go skiing
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Winter won’t be complete without a quick slide in the snow. Snow? In the UAE? Definitely.
If you can’t go without more “traditional” winter temperatures, you should head to Ski Dubai to try snowboarding in the snow park or go skiing down the slopes.
During sunny days, the average temperature in Dubai stays around 25 degrees Celsius. Of course, that’s far from the one to two degrees (or lower) maintained at Ski Dubai to maintain the coolness of the place, both literally and figuratively.
To visit Ski Dubai, head down to the Mall of the Emirates along Sheikh Zayed Road.
5. Scale the UAE’s highest peak
If you’re more of an adrenaline-rush adventure kind of person, you’ll probably be seeking more thrilling adventures than just desert camping, artificial waves, and snowboarding. In that case, you’ll probably be ready to take on the highest peak of the United Arab Emirates: Jebel Jais.
A part of the Hajar mountains born 70 years ago, the Jebel Jais became the tallest peak in the country, mounting at a whopping 1,934 meters (6,345 feet) above sea level. It is located east of Ras Al Khaimah and Oman.
To get there, you can hike for less than three miles via a scenic trail where you can enjoy unparalleled vistas of the UAE. Upon reaching 4,265 feet, you can start your ascent to the peak of the mountain. Once there, you’ll get a 180-degree view of the gorgeous terrain – all that in about two to three hours of low-difficulty climbing.
Enjoying winter in the UAE can be quite different from other places. However, this doesn’t mean it’s less thrilling. Whether you choose Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any of the seven emirates, you can have a wonderful winter vacation, Emirati-style.
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