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Enjoy Dubai’s Extraordinary Landscape with these Splendid Activities

Desert camping, skydiving, sea kayaking … gold-leaf facials and Krug sundowners aren’t the only exotic adventures in Dubai

We all know Dubai, right? Brash, high-rolling, seven-star — a place to drop loads of cash and stay indoors against the heat. But Dubai is recently attracting adventure travelers. Between October and April, when the weather cools, Dubai offers countless opportunities for action on land and sea, or in the air. 1.





1. Skydiving

SkydivingSand islands built in the shape of the world map, the world’s tallest building, luxury hotels resembling huge chandeliers — Dubai’s man-made skyline is well-known from amazing images.

For some, the best way to experience these 21st century landmarks is by jumping out of a Cessna and plummeting toward them at hellish speeds.

Jumpers take off from Dubai Marina and, strapped to an instructor, tumble out of the plane above the Palm Jumeirah for an instant free-fall adrenaline rush.

Once the chute opens its time to relax and concentrate on sprawling views that unfurl as you descend gently toward the purpose-built Palm Drop Zone.

Skydive Dubai, off Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina; +971 50 153 3222; tandem skydives from $545.

2. Mountain biking

Mountain BikingDevoted mountain bikers who imagine Dubai as soft dunes and dust need to wise up — and plenty already have.

Within the Hajar Mountains running east of Dubai through Ras al-Khaimah emirate and Oman, there’s a labyrinth of big-time trails to tackle.

A hardcore organization of expat mountain bikers, Hot Cog, has helped discover and maintain 70 kilometers of wild routes through craggy terrain around the Showka area, incorporating narrow trails, wadi beds and animal paths.

You won’t be alone: wild donkeys, mountain goats, lizards and snakes might all be encountered along the way.

With steep climbs and rough ground, tracks are difficult and not suitable for novices, but offer a tasty challenge to experienced riders.

Hot Cog has information on routes and joining a group ride.

Bike rental: Adventure HG,Times Square, Sheikh Zayed Road; +971 4 346 6824; mountain bike rentals from $27

Guided mountain bike rides: Absolute Adventure, Absolute Adventure Center, Dibba; +971 4 345 9900; rides from $100

3. Desert camping

Desert campingThere’s no need to be stuck in a crowded campsite around Dubai.

Beyond the city limits, the emirate’s desert is basically one giant campsite – albeit a bit light on the washroom facilities.

Dubai locals like nothing better than to throw their gear in a 4×4 and head for the nearest set of dunes.

Off the Dubai to Hatta road, Shwaib is a good spot. Within a couple of hours of leaving the city, you can be set up amid the dunes, ready for an evening of barbecuing beneath the star-rich desert night sky.

With wadi beds and mountains to explore, the next day is often spent on 4×4 voyages or practicing dune sports, such as sand-boarding.

You can camp even if you don’t own the equipment.

Companies such as Arabian Adventures lead guided camping safaris into the emirate’s only national park – the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where herds of oryx and gazelle roam freely.

Arabian Adventures, Emirates Holidays Building, Sheikh Zayed Road; +971 4 303 4888; Starlight Express overnight camping trip from $190 per person

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