Let’s face it, Abu Dhabi isn’t just a city; the Emirate also encompasses a vast and diverse terrain made up of white beaches, mangrove forests, shifting desert sands and islands and coral reefs surrounded by sparkling seas.
And what better way to see it all than by taking to the air.
Think of the UAE’s aviation industry and you automatically think of Emirates and Etihad airlines. Some of the most successful aviation companies on Earth operate out of the UAE. The downside to this though, is the skies can be a little busy, filled with the big boys flying the largest and newest offerings from Airbus and Boeing.
For safety reasons, private aviation has sensibly been kept to a minimum around the major airports, however if you’re prepared to head out into the desert or keen to try something at a lower altitude, there are some unusual and exhilarating options to try. Whether you want to learn to fly or just take a one-off scenic journey, Abu Dhabi and the UAE have it covered. So buckle up and let TOAD take you through the country’s myriad of flying adventures.Balloon Rides in Al Ain
Expect cloudless sunrises as you float silently over the expanse of desert. Thanks to having no engine your hot air balloon refuses to spoil the serenity of the desert and the sporadic ‘wooosh’ as the operator releases more hot air into the balloon will be the only thing that breaks the silence. This once in a lifetime trip viewing the desert dunes and beautiful wadis is so magical it’s almost surreal. Trips are operated by Balloon Adventures Emirates LLC which has branches in Hungary, Germany and New Zealand, professional staff and is fully licensed by the CAA authority here in the UAE. Just make sure to wear sensible shoes and bring a cap.Trips are available until the end of May. Prices start at Dhs995 per person, children (five-12 years) Dhs850. Balloon Adventures Emirates LLC www.ballooning.ae (04 285 4949).