The term Wadi comes from Arabic, which means valley, of which, The UAE has quite a few! What’s more, the valleys and Wadi’s in the UAE are beautiful and so worth a visit. Until a while ago, when we talk about exploring the natural beauty of the United Arab Emirates, it could be hard for someone to associate the natural landscape of UAE with anything more than palm trees, beaches and deserts.
Anyone visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi should make the most of these beautiful natural hotspots and so below we present to you, our Top 10 Best Wadis in UAE.
Top 10 Wadis of the UAE to Explore
To the surprise of most wanderlusts, the mountains of UAE and its Wadis are equally or more beautiful and exciting with the change in wildlife and landscape. Surrounding the deserts are the majestic mountains of Hajjar, Hatta, Jebel Hafeet and Al Faya. The Wadis of these mountains are a vital source of freshwater for the small and big wildlife of the region. Here is our list of Wadis and mountains for all outdoor enthusiasts and hiking lovers to explore.
1. Wadi Bih or Wadi Bayh
Also coined the Grand Canyon of the United Arab Emirates, this trip should not disappoint you with its greenery and fresh air and some of the best views from above. Starting from the Hajjar mountains in Ras Al Khaimah, it crosses the Musandam peninsula of Oman.
Wadi Al Bih is a bird watcher’s paradise with over 140 species of birds. So don’t forget to grab a pair of binoculars!
Every year, there is also the Wadi Bih Run which starts from Dibba and crosses through to the mountainous terrains and Musandam peninsula, Oman. The run is 73km long and has been an annual event for over 25 years, since 1993.
If you’re a keen outdoors enthusiast then you could camp here too. The best time to visit is from October to April. It’s highly recommended to take sufficient food and water and precautions for any possible winter rains
Nearby Attractions: National Museum of RAK, Dibba Beach.
Location: Ras Al Khaimah
Wadi Asimah and Wadi Sidr
Between Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah lies the Wadi Asimah and Sidr. Though it’s not a long hike of rocky trails, if camping with the barbeque blazing over the weekend interests you; head to the hilly terrains of Wadi Asimah and Sidr. En route, you can see small dams and the falaj, a traditional irrigation system that channels the freshwater for nearby farms.
The scenic view and greenery, especially during the winter, is a getaway from the city’s hustle. The long drive to Wadi Asimah and Sidr through mountains on both sides is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Nearby attractions: Wadi Asimah flower farm
Location: Ras Al Khaimah
Among all of the Wadis in the UAE, the most popular and commercialised one is Hatta, with several organised adventure activities. You could either rent a bike and explore the area on your own or try zorbing or kayaking. Another favourite activity by locals and tourists is ‘wadi bashing’, a version of dune bashing but through the valley.
Why Visit ?
Pack a picnic with family, ride through the trails on your own or explore the area while horse riding; Wadi Hatta should interest outdoor enthusiasts. You could also hike through the Hatta Mountain Conservation Area, which is among the few areas where you could spot the Arabian Sand Cat and Arabian Tahr.
Nearby Attractions – Hatta Heritage Village, Hatta Wadi Park, Hatta Honey Bee Garden and Masfout.
Wadi Al Wurayah
Nestled between Khorfakkan, Bidiyah and Masafi, this 31,000 acre wadi has the cleanest wadi pools jewelled between lush greenery and mountains around. This is among the rare valley which is a part of an international treaty for sustainable use of wetlands and has been designated as Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.
Home to over 300 species of plants and 100 species of animals like Arabian leopards, Gazelles and Arabian Tahr, Wadi Al Wurayah is a photographer’s dream. Witness ophiolites, which are some of the rarest naturally formed geological structures.
Nearby Attractions – Al Bidiya Mosque, Wadi Wurayah Dam and Natural Reserve.
For more natural beauty whilst visiting Fujairah, check out our guide to Snoopy Island.
Wadi Ghalilah piques the interests of rock climbers and hikers with its steep cliffs. A popular one-day trek route for hikers is from Wadi Ghalilah to Jebel Jais, which takes about 4-5 hours to peak. The stone walkways of the old shepherd’s trail of Wadi Ghalilah is fondly coined as the ‘Stairway to Heaven.’
The trek to Wadi Ghalilah is exhilarating and challenging for those seeking adventure. You could also find many old village ruins and the design of the mountains with traces of copper and iron makes the climb worthwhile.
Nearby Attractions – Jebel Jais
Location – Ras Al Khaimah
Close to the Oman border and part of the Musandam peninsula, this bowl-shaped Wadi is perfect for the nearby wildlife to get fresh water.
Visitors can see some rare birds like the Trumpeter Finch, Chukar Partridge, Desert Lark and more here, and we suggest getting your binoculars if bird-watching interests you.
Nearby Attractions – Jebel Jais, Zayed Heritage Village, Dhayah Fort
Location: Through Al Jeer Village, Ras Al Khaimah.
Between the mountains in Fujairah, not so far away from towards Dibba coast, you’d find lots of palm and other trees with clear freshwater of Wadi Abadilah. This Wadi is quite offbeat and not regularly visited by tourists, making it serene, peaceful and clean.
Get some fabulous drone shots of the area. It’s pretty accessible from the main road too. You don’t need to hike a lot, and someone with low fitness levels can also enjoy the Wadi and its view.
Location – E89 – Fujairah.
Wadis can be wetland or dry but not Wadi Siji. There are three damns constructed here; the major one being the Wadi Siji Old Dam, which has a capacity to hold 1.2 million cubic meters of water!
For the breath-taking views, especially during winter, Wadi Siji is a great picnic spot that will not disappoint.
Nearby Attractions– Hajjar mountains
Location – Fujairah
To the southwest of Fujairah, Wadi Hayl has farmlands in its vicinity that use the freshwaters.
This place is an archaeological site where you can see ancient texts on rocks carved by primitive man. If you are a trekker, we strongly suggest going with a trekking group. There is also a fort that used to be the headquarters of the ruling family of Fujairah. This Wadi is a perfect blend of history and nature and should be a must add to your itinerary.
Nearby Attractions – Wadi Al Hayl Dam, Al Hayl Fort
Location – Fujairah
Wadi Shis or Shees
Part of the Shis village at Sharjah, a stroll at Wadi Shis takes you back in time with the ancient stone houses, falaj irrigation system, and farming kept intact. There is not much commercialisation that has happened, and the genuineness of the place remains untouched.
Wadi Shees Natural Trail gives you an insight into the lifestyle of the Naqbi tribe who had lived there 150 years ago.
Nearby Attractions – Shees Park, Al Qawa water pond.
Location – Sharjah
The Wadis and mountains of the United Arab Emirates are proof of how diverse a country and its topography can be and how the region’s people have evolved to survive through the most challenging terrain and weather conditions.
The freshwaters of the Wadis were the primary source of vegetation which helped humanity thrive and live decades ago. A trip to the Wadis takes you back in time and is a must-visit, as a stark contrast of how the Emiratis started their journey to where they are today.