Perched high in the rugged Hajar Mountains, Hatta has a landscape both imposing and mesmerising. The harsh peaks of the colour-changing mountains soften against parcels of lush green vegetation. Wadis and lakes irrigate the area and Hatta Dam is a sight to behold.
Are you in need of a change of scenery?
The Dubai exclave borders Ras Al Khaimah to the north, Ajman to the west and Oman to the south and east. Initially, a short cut through Oman on the E44 from central Dubai would have you in Hatta in just over an hour. Amendments in 2016 to Omani security checkpoints now only allow UAE Nationals to use this route.
Sidestepping Oman only makes the trip a little over 130km or 90-minutes so Hatta is still an easy summer escape for Dubai residents to enjoy the higher altitude’s cooler temperatures and evening breezes.
On the highway, with the mountain range in the distance, the gentle winding ascent is gradual. At intervals, you’ll see dates, bananas and mangoes thriving on the underground springs.
Out and About.
The mountains may be imposing but wearing a pair of hiking boots, they become a lot friendlier. The first phase of the Hatta Hiking Project was completed last month (April 2017). 9km of trails link attractions and landmarks and range in difficulty. This first phase is “City Hiking” and the second will continue into the mountains.
Until Phase 2 is complete, a wadi (dry riverbed) is a good place to start. Follow the naturally created path and climb to its origin. Terrain will vary along with difficulty. Ensure your phone is charged to utilise GPS. Pack water and snacks, both are scarce in the mountains and protect yourself from the sun.
Hike (or drive) to Hatta Dam. The elevation gets the heart pumping and clear turquoise water surrounded by rugged mountains is the reward. Rest here or hire a kayak to paddle through the dam’s nooks and crevices.
Hatta Kayak rent paddleboats and kayaks by the hour or the day. For morning paddling, they’re open Friday and Saturday. (08:30 – 18:30). Closed Monday and Tuesday, they open from 13:30 – 18:30 the remaining days.
Mountain Biking enthusiasts will love Hatta. For all your biking needs, visit Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre. Biking trails are marked by 4 colours used for different experience levels.
Download maps and details here. The trails are free for anyone who has a bike and they’re open 24/7/365. To hire a bike, avoid disappointment by organising one before you leave Dubai. Check out Wolfi’s for a range of brands and sizes.
Hatta Heritage Village provides a less physical experience, yet no less interesting. If you’ve visited Al Fahidi Fort in Bur Dubai there are some similarities, but Hatta Heritage Village depicts traditional rural life.
Wander the village streets entering houses, shops, restaurants and forts. Many are furnished and contain traditional handwoven textiles. Weapons, some made from the materials of the mountains, are displayed in glass cabinets. Lifelike models protect the village from attack via concealed vantage points.
A falaj, or watering canal, through an adjacent farm, reveals how lush agriculture can be achieved in this harsh environment. The archaeological cemetery, closed but observed from a distance, and the fort, accessible by a steep path, date the village back to the third millennium BC.
After all this activity a swim and relax are in order before sundowners at JA Hatta Fort Hotel. Exploring Hatta and the Hajar Mountains: it’s a thing we love….