Drive time: 60 minutes
Best for: A half-day trip of dune bashing for keen off-roaders and anyone who has completed a 4WD course. We’d suggest undertaking some lessons beforehand, and always head out with at least two vehicles.
The trip: Take the Dubai-Hatta Road, which is uneventful until you see the giant brontosaurus and T-Rex models peeping out Jurassic Park-style from behind an unfinished construction site. When passing through Al Awir, check out the heavily guarded palace on the right. From here the trip takes a more exciting turn, so let down the air in your tyres before heading onto the sand. To avoid driving around in circles (we speak from experience), follow the main power lines straight out to Fossil Rock, with plenty of opportunities for camel spotting. Warning: there will be a number of times when it appears the dunes ahead of you make a sheer drop, so always step out of your car to have a look before driving on.
Once you reach Fossil Rock and the nearby Camel Rock, you can picnic (wind permitting) or keep going until you reach the tarmac. Check out the signposted tombs on the left, otherwise continue to the right, and drive some distance until you reach Big Red, where you can rent a quad bike to ride the dunes (for around Dhs250 an hour), before making your way back to Dubai.
Directions: Take the Dubai/Hatta Road (E44) for 31km until you reach a flyover. At the roundabout, take the second exit into Al Awir. Take the right turn before the second mosque, then drive past a palace and some shops until you reach a sandy track. Head up the dunes, following the power lines across a main road until you reach Camel Rock and, further on, Fossil Rock. Keep straight to reach the tarmac road, then take a right or left to head back to Dubai.