Waking up to late sunrises and those occasional foggy mornings with a hint of mustiness in the air can only mean one thing. The summer’s scorching temperatures are behind us and it’s finally time to enjoy fall’s cool, crisp air.
Instead of heading to the mall on weekends, or sweating it out with the usual cardio or strength conditioning session indoors, make your weekends and workouts more interesting by hiking in this gorgeous weather. Hiking in the fresh air will definitely breathe some new life into your usual routine. If you’re new to the hiking scene or aren’t sure about where to go, we’ve got you covered. There’s no room for excuses!
Hiking up and down an incline gets your heart rate up, works many muscles like glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, core, etc. and burns MEGA-calories. Not only do you strengthen your muscles, but your cardio endurance also increases.
Besides keeping you fit, it’s your ticket to an escape from the real world. Your chance to get away from the daily grind and seek the thrill. To take in breathtaking views, fresh air, and the sounds and smell of nature. You can also enjoy some quiet time to yourself, clear your head, reflect and get inspired. Hiking leaves you feeling lighter, reduces stress and can help you sleep better.
Despite Middle East being a sun-drenched region, almost 81% of the MENA population and 90% of the UAE population faces Vitamin D deficiency. This is the perfect season to soak up some winter sun by hiking in the great outdoors.
– Don’t hike alone. Ask your friends or family to tag along and inform others about where you’ll be hiking for safety reasons. Or better yet, find a group or club you can go with. It’s definitely a fun way to meet new people.
– Plan your route according to your capabilities and familiarize yourself with the trail.
– Wear light, comfortable hiking clothing and shoes. Skip cotton and opt for synthetics to keep you dry.
– Check the weather forecast before you go so that you can carry layers or waterproof gear, if needed.
– Consider hiking poles to reduce stress on knees and thighs.
– Carry all essentials, especially first-aid kit, power bank and GPS.
– Take short breaks every hour, stay hydrated and carry emergency stash of food, especially high-carb food for energy (YES!).
– Don’t push yourself over the limit. If you’re a first-timer, keep your trip short and don’t stay on a trail that’s too difficult for you.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best hiking trails to get you exploring.
Surrounded by Hajar mountains, Hatta is one of the perfect spots for hiking. The route spans around 30KM and is colour-coded by difficulty, offering something for runners and walkers of all abilities. You can book a hiking experience at the Hatta Wadi Hub or just explore on your own. That’s not just all, you can also relax by the Instagrammable Hatta Dam, which has some stunning vantage points. Or camp overnight at the lodges, trailers or luxury glamping resorts if you decide to make a weekend staycation of it.
Located in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), the UAE’s highest mountain offers hiking routes suited for all levels, so, even beginners can have a go at this climb. Popular routes include the Leopard Canyon trail, a return trip of 8km. Or you can hike through the East Flank of Jebel Jais, which takes you through Thunder Canyon, Wasat Canyon and Trident Canyon. Covering all 3 canyons can take up to 2 days, so, pack your camping gear as well.
Popular amongst hikers, cyclists and trail runners, Wadi Shawka in RAK is known for its natural pools (if you go during the right weather). Beginners can easily hike over the flat terrains around the many pools. You can also explore the Shawka Dam Loop, Fujairah – a 10KM route which takes around 5-6 hours to complete.
The Edge of the World, or Jebel Fihrayn is about a 1.5-hour drive from Riyadh. It forms part of the vast Tuwaiq cliffs, which stretch over more than 600km through central Saudi. With steep climbs and rugged terrain, good walking shoes are advised. Keep an eye out for fossils and camels. It takes 15-30 minutes to reach the cliff edge, and there are many photo ops along the way.
This geological formation is a popular spot known for its spectacular views and takes around 2 hours to cover. There’s already a paved road leading downwards till the edge of the crater, but keep in mind that the trek back up to the road isn’t easy.
If you’re an adventure lover, this spot in Ash Shafa village near Taif city must not be missed. You don’t need fancy climbing gears to climb this peak, a good pair of hiking shoes would do just fine. The walk upwards is a difficult task, but once you get to the top, you can enjoy the good weather and view.
Grab your walking stick and unplug from the world. Happy hiking!