Summer is... Over! 20 Outdoor Adventures!

What child doesn’t love adventure, exploration, wildlife and nature? And, with great winter weather just around the corner, we take a look at the UAE’s best ‘out-of-town’ activity and edutainment offerings...
Summer is... Over! 20 Outdoor Adventures!
By David Westley
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After whiling-away another long hot summer spent under the air-conditioner, most UAE residents tend to forget that this little country is actually packed with amazing outdoor-adventure spots and hands on animal experiences, all of which don’t have to cost the earth!

Mountains, deserts, beaches and sea, all create their own habitats to explore and wildlife to discover, and each one makes for an unforgettable family adventure.'s Cursty Hoppe finds out more…


50 DHS and Under…

Get Back to Nature

With over 60 species of migratory and resident birds including some seriously impressive flamingos, pelicans and herons, the Wasit Nature Reserve located between Sharjah and Ajman is a nature lovers paradise.

Although relatively small, the reserve features the perfect terrain for birdlife including; dunes, mud flats and salty lagoons it provides food, nesting spots and shelter opportunities.

For humans, there’s numerous viewing hides plus chauffeured golf carts for those who choose not to walk. However, fans of the centre are adamant that heading out on foot is the best way to explore and view the abundant wildlife. In addition the reserve boasts numerous large aviaries, various educational opportunities and detailed bird information and activities.

Fees: 30 AED for a family of 4 (Adults 15 AED, Kids free)
Getting There: 30 min from Down Town Dubai located on Wasit Street Sharjah/Ajman border.
Timings: 9am to 6.30pm


Two Wildlife Centres in One

Although much of the Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre is viewed from inside air-conditioned viewing decks, the cooler months there are guided walks and golf-cart trip around the perimeter of the centre. The facility showcases 30 different mountain species including wildcats, hyenas, Arabian wolves and leopards, plus various indigenous deer and more.

Fees: Adults 25 AED and kids under 12 go free
Getting There: 1 hour 32 mins from Down Town Dubai- located just outside Kalba
Opening Times: Sunday to Thursday 9.30am to 5.30pm, Friday: 2pm to 5.30pm, Saturday: 11am to 5.30pm, (Monday: Closed)
Why not leave your car at the Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre, and take a walk over to the Kalba Birds of Prey Centre, just along the road. The centre offers an action packed afternoon spent getting up close and personal with Barn Owls, Short Toad Snake Eagles, Greater Spotted Eagles, and Lappet Faced Vultures. There’s also guided tours and various raptor demonstrations, plus the location allows for both mountain and desert walking after your trip.
Fees: 50 AED per adult, kids under 12 go free
Getting There: 1 hour 32 mins from Down Town Dubai- located just outside Kalba
Raptor show timings: Sunday to Thursday (except Monday) between 10am and 4.30pm, Friday between 2pm to 4:30pm and Saturdays 11am to 4.30pm


Maleiha Archaeological Centre
The relatively new Mleiha Archaeological Centre showcases the UAE’s archaeology in a whole new light. Explore the unique pre-Islamic history around Maleiha rock mountain. Visit the tombs, villages and fort plus the central museum. The centre offers additional activities such as dune bashing, Fossil Rock guided expedition, over-night camping, guided star-gazing and more for an additional fee.

Fees: Adults 25 AED, Family (2 adults and 3 children 55 AED), children under 12 years 15 AED and children under 3 go free
Getting there: 55 mins from Down Town Dubai on (Maleiha Rd) Sharjah/Fujeirah Road


Desert Oasis Petting Farm
This little farm on the outskirts of Dubai is perfect for Kindergarten/Key Stage one kids. The centre houses; deer, goats, a camel, bunnies, tortoise, ostrich, cows and a whole lot more. Children are encouraged to pet, walk, groom and play with the friendly residents, while staff are constantly on hand with advice and assistance.

Fees: 10 AED per person and children under 2 go free
Getting There: 26 mins from Down Town Dubai in Khawaneej
Open daily from 9am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pm


A Little Piece of Africa at Al Ain Zoo

Get a taste of Africa, right here in the UAE at Al Ain Zoo. The centre’s new Giraffe Feeding station allows visitors a face-to-face interaction with the resident giraffes. Apparently, these gorgeous and friendly creatures like nothing more than being hand-fed their favourite snacks (carrots and lettuce- in case you’re wondering). The newly installed feeding deck allows your whole family an opportunity to experience these gorgeous animals, literally eye-to-eye.

Fees: 30 AED for a family of 4 people (plus park entry fee)
Getting There: 1 hour 26 mins from Down Town Dubai- located in Al Ain
Available: Daily 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm


Activities Under 100 AED

Desert Cycling Tours
If you’ve seen those wide-wheeled desert bikes and always wanted to try, now’s your chance. Try a desert cycle tour at Maleiha and explore the amazing archaeological discoveries plus stunning nature and wildlife. Try a ‘FatBoy’ bike, specially-designed for the desert and venture out with a guide who will not only show you the historical sites, but also point out where to climb the soft dunes and how to get up close to nature, including birds, reptiles and camels.

Fees: One hour 90 AED per bike
Getting there: 55 mins from DownTown Dubai on (Maleiha Rd) Sharjah/Fujeirah Road


Explore the Hajar Mountains By Bike

The steep, rock-hewn Hajar mountains with their wild donkeys, vivid green oases and rocky remains of civilisations past, make for an adventurous family day out. But, have you experienced them by bike? We thought not!
Showka Bikes located just past Maleiha on the Sharjah/Kalba road, is now offering tours and bike hire for families wishing to explore the mountains in a completely different way.
The family and friends ride offers visitors a guided tour for those with little or no mountain biking experience a one hour tour of the area, the package includes a guide, refreshments and snacks.

Fees: 75 per hour per bike (family/friends ride 150 AED for 2 riders)
Getting There: 59 mins from Downtown Dubai on the Sharjah/Kalba road


Night Mangrove Kayak Tour

Explore the beautiful Al Zorah mangrove nature reserve at sunset in a two-person kayak. This tidal lagoon extends over two square kilometres of biologically and ecologically rich wetland. Explore the sea-forest where fish spawn and over 50 species of bird both native and migratory rest.

Fees: 150 AED per person
Getting There: 41 mins from Down Town Dubai- just off the E11 after Ajman


Reach for the Stars
Another really interesting activity from the Maleiha Centre is the affordable and unique one-hour star gazing programme. Head out at sunset to the centre’s Arabian camp, where an experienced guide will help you tour the night sky. Away from the city’s lights; Jupiter, Mars and the moon can be viewed through the camps various telescopes. Hot drinks are available on request.

Fees: 75 AED per person
Getting there: 55 mins from DownTown Dubai on (Maleiha Rd) Sharjah/Fujeirah Road


Breakfast with the Birds
Emirates Zoo Park has recently launched their ‘breakfast with the parrots,’ experience. The two hour long breakfast sees your family seated with the park’s many parrots. Feed them as you dine, take pictures and learn all about them from the resident bird keeper. The fee includes a full day’s park entry plus a birds of prey encounter and additional duck feeding.
Fees: 160 AED for adults and 80 AED for kids ( 4-12 years old) Free for kids under 3 years old

Getting There: 1 hour 3 mins from Down Town Dubai- located on E11 near Bahya, Abu Dhabi


Underwater Animals
What’s better than a visit to the zoo? A visit to the underwater zoo of course! Al Ain Zoo has opened a one-of-a-kind underwater hippo and crocodile exhibit which allows visitors to watch the hippos and crocodiles interact underwater. If you visit at 5pm there’s also an additional ‘keeper talk’ where kids can learn more about these fascinating animals.
Fees: Free once admission to the park is paid

Getting There: 1 hour 26 mins from Down Town Dubai- located in Al Ain
Available: Friday & Saturday Time: From 5pm


Valley of the Caves, Archaeological Tour
Take a guided hiking tour through the Maleiha area and discover the numerous stone-age caves. Lasting only one hour the guided walk follows the centre’s safe and fully-constructed walkways, so even the youngest ‘explorers’ can take part.
Fees: AED 115 per person
Getting there: 55 mins from DownTown Dubai on (Maleiha Rd) Sharjah/Fujeirah Road


Over 100 AED…

Challenging Adventure
This amazing Outward-Bound Centre offers; rock-climbing, orienteering, abseiling, slacklining, kayaking, survival, den building, canyoning, trekking, hot springs pool, archery, arts and crafts, treasure hunts, raft-building and dragon-boating, all led by British qualified instructors with relevant safety equipment, activity equipment and tonnes of location knowledge.

Build your perfect half day package by contacting the centre for activities ideal for your child’s age and interests.

Fees: Half day from 265 AED per adult and 165 AED per child (3 to 11 years)
Getting There: 1 hour 33 mins from Down Town Dubai- Through RAK towards the Oman border
Timings: 9.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30pm to 4.30pm


Crab Hunting in Umm Al Quwain

If they want to channel their inner Bear Grylls, then get them to the Flamingo Beach Resort for the serious business of crab hunting.

The evening tour takes ‘mini-hunters’ by boat to deserted ‘crab-Island,’ where they are issued with waterproof torch and crab-spear, then as a group they scour the sea-bed for their dinner.
Once back at the hotel, chefs prepare the crabs and they’re served for the evening meal.

Fees: Adults 180 AED, Children under 11 year 100 AED and Children under 5 are free
Getting There: 58 mins from Down Town Dubai- Through Umm Al Qwain to the Old Town Area
Contact: Call 06 765 0000 for more details


Play Game of Thrones in Sharjah
Step into Winterfell at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club. The club’s beautiful landscaped grounds create the perfect setting for a day of mediaeval-themed archery. But don’t worry, the range and equipment is all of the newest technology and coaches are on hand to collect the arrows and offer help when required.
Fees: 30 minutes unlimited shots 140 AED and 15 minutes unlimited shots 85 AED
Getting There: 30 mins from Downtown Dubai just off the 311 between Sharjah and Ajman


Free Activities…

Channel Your Inner Indiana Jones

Al Jazirah Al Hamra in Ras Al Khaimah is great for a day exploring. This spooky yet beautiful abandoned fishing village is actually thought to be inhabited by local spirits called Jin. Although we don’t recommend you visit at night, by day the village makes an excellent place for the whole family to explore.
Fee: Free
Getting There: 1 hour 19 mins from Down Town Dubai- take the E11 to RAK


Walk The Dogs in UAQ
If you’re fed up of the kids continually begging for a pet, appease their need with a visit to Umm Al Qwain. The Stray Dog Centre in UAQ is always looking for volunteers to help walk and care for, their many rescued dogs. Simply follow their Facebook page to find out when the weekly walking-sessions are planned and the group will even helpfully meet you in Dubai and escort you to the centre.

Fees: Free (however the centre would appreciate a donation of dog food!)
Getting There: 50 mins from Down Town Dubai- Call the centre for directions


Camel racing in Al Dhaid
Ok, so watching camel racing isn’t the most active day out, however, as the sport vanished from the bigger cities, a visit to the races not only ticks the culture and tradition boxes, but offers a glimpse into an Emirati way of life which is vanishing fast in the bigger cities. Races are usually held early in the morning on Thursdays and Fridays, and make a great topic for budding young photographers and videographers.
Bonus: Visitors to Al Dhaid pass the stunning Zaha Hadid designed Bee’ah headquarters, rising like a sand-dune from the desert floor. This eco-building powered by Tesla is one of the last designed by Hadid before she passed away in 2016.
Fees: Free
Getting There: 1 hour 10 mins from Down Town Dubai- on the Sharjah/Al Dhaid road


Free Training Sessions at Yas Marina Circuit

Get outdoors and join more than 5,000 health and fitness enthusiasts who get active each week, for free, at Yas Marina Circuit through its StartYAS, TrainYAS and GoYas programmes. The formula one track offers a safe and traffic free place for visitors to either walk, run or cycle. StartYAS encourages people of all ages and fitness levels to get active and takes place every Sunday from 6pm to 10pm.
Weekly TrainYAS sessions get families and friends together to train regardless of fitness level and speed and takes place every Tuesday from 6pm to 10pm.
The GoYAS initiative engages women in fun, healthy fitness activities in complete privacy. Held every Wednesday, between 6pm to 9pm, GoYAS ladies can walk cycle or run around Yas Marina Circuit or participate in group training sessions such as CrossFit or Yoga. To register, find out more information on StartYAS, TrainYAS and GoYAS or Yas Marina Circuit visit

Fees: Free
Getting There: 1 hour 11 mins- Yas Island, Abu Dhabi


Not Available for 2018/19…
Hatta Pools are now inaccessible unless you are a GCC passport holder.
Posh Paws Petting Farm is believed to have closed its doors to the public.

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