We’re fortunate to find ourselves in a country where we can drive down to the mall, the beach and the tallest skyscraper in the world… and then out into the untouched beauty of the desert landscape – all under the span of an hour.
Somehow, we typically find ourselves gravitating more towards the former than the lesser-explored latter. Part of the reason why road trips evoke feelings of hesitation is simply not knowing where to head. But trust us: once you’re finally on your way to wide open highways, crisp desert air, unfamiliar terrain and an unparalleled sense of liberation – there’s no turning back.
Here at The Huntr we have decided it’s time to move beyond the Sheikh Zayed Road vs. Al Khail debate and rush-hour-blues; and it’s time to rediscover our love for the open road and adventure. So every other weekend we’ll be setting out on a long drive, and we’re inviting you to join us with The Huntr Road Trip Series. From the most scenic routes, to the best time to get there and other hidden gems on the city outskirts – we’ll bring you the lowdown you need.
Join us as we present the first edition of The Huntr Road Trip Series and shine the spotlight on Al Qudra…
The much-awaited UAE winter is finally here. Suddenly walking outside is a pleasure, the mornings are cooler and the sun sets a little earlier than usual. Last Friday was pleasant and wonderfully cloudy, so we decided to head out to Al Qudra to make the most of it…
From Dubai, follow the signs leading to Al Ain, past Global Village. After 25 minutes of driving towards Arabian Ranches and past other major township properties, you hit the Al Qudra Road. About another 20 minutes in and you see The Last Exit. The infamous skyline is effectively out of your field of vision and whilst on the road, you’ve just got the desert on either side…
This part of town is home to some of the city’s native wildlife and a diverse bird species, making it a frequently visited location for both tourists and locals alike. The Al Qudra Lakes – the point The Huntr drove down to on this particular occasion, right before the Al Qudra Desert territory begins, is part of the larger Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve.
As the weather gets better, Al Qudra becomes a common site for families and off road enthusiasts to enjoy a Friday morning, a relaxed sunset or a healthy dose of the stunning desert landscape. With such a vast open area, everyone can enjoy their privacy without it being too isolated – it also makes for a great playground for families with children.
The Inside Tips
A highlight of this area is its cycling course – you will be hard pressed to find a parking spot at the Last Exit on a Friday morning, with all of the city’s cyclists getting ready to take the tracks. The conveniently located Trek Bicycle Store takes care of all your needs, just remember to book your bike 72 hours in advance to make sure you get your pick.
On this occasion we decided to save the cycling for an even cooler morning, but after a long drive we craved some caffeine. The Brass Coffee & Community Truck at Al Qudra is perfect for your morning coffee stop. We ordered the Lavender Honey Latte (regular size, 19AED) and we’d definitely recommend it.
We then headed over to the infamous Al Qudra Lakes. Be sure to watch your speed – the lakes fall under the reserve area which is home to over 204 species of native birds and 158 species of migratory birds.
While it is off-road terrain, it’s just as friendly to 2WD cars as it is to 4WD cars, however, we would recommend following the gravel tracks. Certain portions of the lake are more crowded than others depending upon the likelihood of being able to spot more bird species. The vast area offers enough quiet spots where you can pull over, walk around or kick back – whatever you need to unwind and immerse yourself in the desert calm before you get back to your weekend commitments.
To make it easier, there’s a viewing deck that gives you panoramic views of the lake and the larger reserve, which is a majestic way to start the day.
The Huntr’s Quick Tips
- Before any long drive it is best to fuel your tank. We love the at-home service by CAFU. But if you happen to forget, don’t worry because Last Exit Al Qudra has an Adnoc gas station.
- Watch out for speed limits, especially considering that Al Qudra is a wildlife reserve area – there’s a good chance you’ll find a camel crossing the road.
- Al Qudra’s cycling track is nearly 90km long and is perfect for those who’d like to get some air and also squeeze in a bit of a workout while taking in the desert views. Stop by the Last Exit, here you’ll find the Trek Bicycle Store. Park your car here, grab a bike and head out.
THE AL QUDRA OVERVIEW
Distance | Approx 55km from Dubai
Time Duration | Approx 45 minute drive from Downtown Dubai
Best time to get there | Typically early morning, between 6am & 8am or around sunset, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm during the warmer season. During winter, Al Qudra is great around the clock.
Activities | Last Exit for dining; Cycling Track; Wildlife Reserve; Scenic Drive.
Photography and words by Shama Nair exclusively for The Huntr