Trekking in the UAE

Stop pounding pavement and hit the road less travelled. Time Out walks the walk with trekking experts Absolute Adventure

Negotiate the narrow ledges from Aqaba to Lima
Negotiate the narrow ledges from Aqaba to Lima
Trekking: Rucksacks of fun
Trekking: Rucksacks of fun
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Aqaba to Lima

Proceedings begin with a ride in a fishing boat from Dibba harbour, a quick stop at some limestone caves, then onto the fishing port. From here, you’ll follow a coastal pathway, negotiating your way along narrow ledges that are only about a metre or two above the water (look out for dolphins and stingrays). A steep uphill climb then leads to Aqaba, which, at 250m above sea level, boasts spectacular views. Aqaba was abandoned 50 years ago when oil was first discovered in the region and the locals migrated to more comfortable towns with water and electricity. There are about 80 abandoned houses, a mosque and an old graveyard. After descending down a steep slope, you reach lush date farms in Lima; a good spot to stop for lunch next to a freshwater pool. African parakeets and Indian rollers are found in the almond, tamarind and henna trees. Then it’s just a short walk to the harbour at Lima bay to meet the boat and return to Dibba – with a stop off along the way for some snorkelling.

Cost: Dhs695
Duration: Seven hours
Difficulty rating: 3
Group: Minimum of four people
Runs: Oct-Apr


Jebel Qiwhi

At 1,782m above sea level, Jebel Qiwhi is one of the highest mountains in the Musandam Peninsula. Trekkers set out at 9am with a drive up to the Ru’us Al Jibil plateau, which is about 900m above sea level. Then there’s another 90m ascent by foot, a journey that is done in a loop – down to a valley before ascending a steep trail to a ridge that leads to the summit. On a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way to the Arabian Gulf on the western side, and you can even make out the Iranian coastline on the eastern side. There are also spectacular views into all the wadis in the area. On the way back down, the route follows a ridgeline that runs behind the mountain, arriving at a small village called Aqabat, which boasts fantastic views down into a valley. The goat herder that lives there is quite friendly, and usually invites walkers in for tea. Then it’s just a short walk from the village to Ru’us Al Jibil where the trek started. This is quite a demanding trek, mainly because it requires a substantial amount of walking. Be prepared for some slightly tough ascents.

Cost: Dhs495 per person
Duration: Seven hours
Difficulty rating: 5
Group: Minimum of two people
Runs: Oct-Apr


Smugglers’ Bay

The name of this trek is inspired by the illegal immigrants who are smuggled on to Musandam’s beaches. Boats arrive from the Iranian coast and drop immigrants from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan onto the shores of this area. The migrants then make their way across the mountains to the UAE to find work. This coastal trek more or less follows their path; along the trek, you can often find discarded clothes and lifejackets that migrants have changed out of and dumped. The trek begins through the coastal mountains north of Dibba to reach a small bay. Here, you can relax on the pristine beach and swim. Then you follow a wadi as it works its way in a loop through the mountains and back to Dibba. The gradient becomes quite steep in parts but you’re rewarded with excellent views.

Cost: Dhs375 per person
Duration: Five hours
Difficulty rating: 4
Group: Minimum of two people
Runs: Oct-Apr


Hiking checklist

- Fitted, hiking boots (with thick, gripped soles and ankle supports)
- Emergency whistle
- Map/compass
- Water and food
- First-aid kit
- Tell someone where you’re going and leave a map of your planned route


Rambler ratings

1 Easy
Little physical activity involved

2 Moderate
Trekking over flat ground with a few small inclines
3 Difficult
Some steep sections; good physical fitness required

4 Strenuous
Continued physical exertion over several hours; usually five or six hours of constant walking

5 Extreme
Full-day adventure; requires technical skills and excellent physical conditioning

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