Hatta – Between Heights and Wonders
Hatta, a rugged mountainous landscape, is an inland exclave of Dubai, and is approximately 130 kilometres away from the city, sitting on the border of Oman. This quiet, hidden place has become popular over the decades, thanks to Hatta being promoted as a tourist destination for adventure tourism, and for educational tourism as the village of Hatta has been restored to offer a glimpse into pre-modern Emirati life. Hatta is the perfect weekend escape for citizens, residents and tourists alike to hike up the Hajar mountains, bike along some scenic routes, or even enjoy some cooler weather during the hotter summer months.
How to get to Hatta
Getting to Hatta is relatively easy; by car, the journey can take one and a half to two hours, following the E611 (Emirates road), via the E102 (Sharjah-Kalba road), if you’re driving from Dubai. From Abu Dhabi, the trip will take approximately two and a half hours by car. Guests who want to use public transport should get set for a slightly longer trip; the fastest route would be to use the Metro to reach the Sabkha bus station (located in Deira, near the Creek) is the place to catch the E16 bus, which will take a little over two hours to reach Hatta.
Best places to stay
Hatta offers a number of luxury resorts for guests looking to pamper themselves on a fun weekend away from the city, with one popular resort being the Hatta Fort Hotel. This four-star resort offers some stunning views of the Hajar mountains, along with a number of world-class facilities, including sparkling pools, hill parks, and fields to practice archery, golf, and air-rifle shooting. The hotel also offers an indoor recreation centre with a pool table, air hockey, a foosball table, and more. There are trailer resorts as well like the Hatta Sedr trailer resort, which is accessible via 4×4 vehicles operated by the hotel staff. Each trailer is equipped with a kitchen, a dining area, bathroom, and an outdoor terrace, along with enough sleeping space for two adults and one child. The trailers are located by the banks of the Hatta dam, and is the perfect place for guests looking to go for kayaking trips or for walks around the dam surrounded by mountains.
For those looking to spend a night under the stars, there are many camping spots, including some that have been built near the Hatta mountain bike trail centre; adventurous tourists and residents can set up camp near the mountains and enjoy calm, breezy nights in the open. When camping, make sure you pack all essential items required for an overnight stay, to avoid any emergency situations.
Top things to do
Hatta is a stunning place to visit, not just for its natural views, but for its cultural relevance, as Hatta is one of the oldest preserved heritage areas in the UAE. The Hatta Heritage Village is a restored traditional village and is one of the oldest villages in the country, with carefully reconstructed stone houses and water hills amidst two watchtowers, a traditional majlis, and a fort. The museum in Hatta showcases older tools and weapons that were used by the locals in the village, along with photographs that detailed traditional life in Hatta.
Nature lovers will truly enjoy a trip out to this enclave, as Hatta is also the home for Dubai’s endangered animals and plants, with the largest population of the endangered Arabian tahr (a species of goat) in the UAE. Hikers can trek through the foothills of the mountains and around the Hatta dam, and go for kayaking trips, water biking, and other boating activities on the calm blue waters, with boats available to rent out.
Another fun place to visit is the Hatta Honey Bee Garden, the region’s first queen bee rearing station. Guests can go on planned tours where experts will discuss the life of bees and their conservation efforts, with guests being allowed to get closer to the bees and their hives. The Bee garden also offers workshops, including candle-making or beehive-frame building sessions, making it a fun, educational trip for the family.
Hatta is also the perfect place for mountain biking, with dedicated trails that cater to a range of skills and abilities, and bikers will cross by farmlands, natural pools, and rocky hills, so don’t forget to pack a camera or a Go-Pro for some truly stunning Instagram-worthy shots.
Foodies, too, will enjoy a trip to Hatta as this space is filled with fun restaurants that serve a range of cuisines, from traditional Arabic food to more continental dishes. Café Gazebo’s buffet is a must-visit, as the breakfast buffet is served with fresh honey from the Hatta Bee farm, with an exclusive kids’ menu for the younger guests. Looking for traditional Emirati food? Tanoor Laham, a cosy café located beyond the Hatta Resort, is known for serving cuisine, and is a must-visit for meat-eaters – the chicken or lamb tanoor is cooked with traditional cooking methods, where the meat is slowly roasted for hours, resulting in tasty, tender dishes.
Tips to keep in mind
When planning a visit to Hatta, make sure you pack enough warm clothing, as the nights can get chilly thanks to its higher altitude than the main city of Dubai. During winter trips in particular, make sure you and your loved ones back enough warm clothes to layer up for those chilly desert nights. When planning outdoor trips, like mountain hikes or kayaking on the dam, make sure you’ve packed enough safety gear and emergency supplies; for example, those going mountain biking should have an emergency GPS system, a mobile phone with a battery pack, and enough food and water for the trip. Make sure to travel in groups, as cell phone coverage is not fully reliable throughout the mountain range. Another important tip is to keep an eye on the weather, as it does rain during the winter season, making it dangerous to go for treks and hikes up the mountain.
From heritage and cultural sites, to stunning views of the mountains and lake, to calm nights under the stars, Hatta truly is the destination for those looking to learn more about life in the UAE before the modern age, or for those looking to explore natural spots in the UAE, and for guests who wish to engage with nature and move away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while still being able to enjoy some of the modern comforts in life.
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