Abu Dhabi’s impressive desert dunes offer off-road driving enthusiasts a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience, but never go out into the desert alone. Ensure your car is fully serviced and insured for off-road use, and head off with at least three other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Pack enough water and food, a first-aid kit, and a spare tyre. If you’ve never driven off-road, you should first learn the ropes with one of the several tour companies in Abu Dhabi. Keep in mind that changing weather can drastically affect desert dunes. As such, the paths’ ratings listed below might change without notice*. If a dune crossing looks more difficult than you expect, get out of your car and check if it’s alright. If not, explore other crossing options a few metres to the left or right.
A trip to the desert isn’t complete without a night or two under the stars – and be prepared to experience some of the clearest night skies you’ve ever seen! Arrange a camping adventure with a tour company, or rent a four-wheel drive and buy the equipment yourself. Camping supplies are surprisingly affordable in Abu Dhabi, and there is no need to buy the most expensive equipment. In fact, you could probably buy a tent and two sleeping bags from a hypermarket for less than a guided tour. But never go out in the desert alone!
If you’ve caught the desert driving bug then we’ve prepared a few routes that you might want to try yourself!
1. Al Remah Route
Al Remah Route is great for beginner and advanced off-road drivers and takes about six to eight hours. The drive from the starting point to the Camel Farm Road is standard, but after the racing track it’s important to take a left out of the normal track, about 300m to 500m from the racing track. You decide what track you want to use from there. Take a look at our recommendations in the map pins below.
2. Al Ain To White Sands Route
This Liwa route is great for beginner and advanced off-road drivers and takes about four to eight hours. There are plenty of great remote camping spots in the centre section. Keep an eye out for gazelle in this middle area, too.
3. Hameem Loop Route
Due to technical terrain, this route may extend to 70km or even 80km when driven. Taking about four to five hours to complete, you’ll find some particularly tricky terrain in the second half.
4. Umm Al Oush Route
This route is not recommended for beginners and takes about four to five hours to complete, with steep climbs, sharp drops, deep bowls and highly technical dunes. Don’t forget your camera; the sights are stunning.
5. Liwa Crossing Route
This is an advanced route with huge dunes, some of the largest in the UAE. There are some very tricky crossings and this remote route may take 1.5-2 days to complete. Make sure you take everything you need with you – early exit from this route is not possible.
6. Al Khazna Route
This advanced route takes three to four hours to complete, with steep climbs, sharp drops, deep bowls and highly technical dunes.
Call the professionals
If you haven’t been driving in the desert before or simply want some reassurance and practice before venturing out by yourself, then contact one of our trusted partners below who will be more than happy to help:
Capital Gate Tourism
Contact: Joy Sanchez
Mobile: 02 556 5543 or 00 971 56 366 5777
Emirates Tours & Safari LLC
Hotline/WhatsApp: 00 971 50 532 6837
Turning Point Tourism LLC
Contact: Riddhi Lakhani
Mobile: 00 971 50 761 6513