With the holidays coming up, it’s time to start thinking about ways we can escape our routines and daily responsibilities, which can be potential stressors. And while the pandemic is unfortunately still making travel difficult for most of us, we can at least plan an unforgettable staycation to stop us from going stir-crazy. It’s places like Al Ain’s Jebel Hafit Desert Park that prove we don’t really need to hop on a jet to get the benefits of a vacation. As well as giving us that ‘away’ feeling, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the ideal place for families, history buffs and nature enthusiasts to sign up for a range of adventurous outdoor activities, the exact kind we would do if we were travelling somewhere.
Officially launched in February 2020, Abu Dhabi’s newest cultural and outdoor adventure attraction, located at the foot of Jebel Hafit mountain, offers guests a thrilling mix of history, culture and stunning natural landscapes. The park’s new season, running through April 2021, offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings, with the park stretching through nine kilometres of captivating terrain. There is something for everyone at the one-of-a-kind attraction, which offers a wide array of activities. Some of the choices at the site, which has been given National Park status, include independent or guided hikes around archaeological remains, cycling the bike tracks, riding on a horse or a camel and touring the area in a buggy. The numerous shaded benches give hikers and cyclists places to sit back and enjoy the views. The three shelters within the grounds make for perfect picnic spots too.
Plus, culture vultures have the opportunity to go back in time with archaeological remains that date as far back as 8,000 years, with the ‘beehive’ tombs considered as one of Jebel Hafit Desert Park’s must-visit sites. The 5,000-year-old tombs are some of the most famous archaeological remains in the UAE that attest to the rich history and ancient habitation of the area. While the Al Ain World Heritage Site provides “exceptional testimony to the development of successive prehistoric cultures in a desert region, from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, the Jebel Hafit Desert Park area has proven to be exceptionally significant, with excavation work unearthing invaluable evidence into how the inhabitants of the region lived in past millennia.
“To visit Jebel Hafit Desert Park is to travel through thousands of years of Emirati history,” HE Saood Al Hosani, from the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, said. “This landmark offers a fascinating insight into the UAE’s unique heritage and is complemented with a range of outdoor activities suitable for visitors of all ages and abilities, allowing for exploration of surrounding areas notable not only for their beauty but for their significant biodiversity,” the Acting Undersecretary of the organisation that manages the emirate’s tourism sector added.
Additionally, those wanting to extend their stay at Jebel Hafit Desert Park, which is operated by environmental management organisation Barari Natural Resources, have several options. Visitors can use the public campsite and spend the night under the stars in their own tent, however for an upgraded experience they can rent a traditional tent or go all out with a luxury dome.