Camping in Hatta Dubai

Hatta is a town in the UAE located in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. It is an exclave of Dubai located about an hour and a half from the city center. It is separated from the main part of the emirate by Sharjah (which is part of the UAE), and Oman. It is the town Emiratis escape to in respite from the heat in the city during summer.

I thought I would never be able to visit Hatta. Every time we plan to go, there's always some hold-up. I'm glad we finally visited and actually camped out there for real.

The main reason we are drawn to Hatta is because of this jewel.

The Hatta Dam

Hatta Dam

*Please click on the image to enlarge

The Hatta Dam is the main source of water and electricity in the area since it was built in the 1990s. 

We were there in April this year (2019). From Sharjah where we live, we drove via Road E102 passing Maleha to Shawka to Hatta which is one hour and a half drive. From what I know as of this writing (20/10/2019), the other route via Al Madam is unaccessible.

Visit Hatta Sign

There are plenty of rest areas (campsites) in Hatta but the only one we saw with lighting and electricity is the Hatta Camping Area (Google name). It is actually called Jabal Al Meraya Rest Area which is a hill exactly opposite Hatta Police Station.

From there, Hatta Dam is just five minutes away by car.

View of Hatta at Night

We set up camp here since we were unfamiliar with other rest areas in Hatta until the next morning.

Camping in UAE

Some went to rest a little while others started the fire going

Outdoor grilling

to grill some fish

Outdoor grilling

and some steak

Grilled Steak

I took charge of the table setting. We brought steamed shrimp, sauted veggies, salted egg and tomato salad, and sliced papaya.

Filipino Picnic Food

And then we dig in.

Picnic in UAE

had a little bit of camping dessert after with these two in charge.


Yes, that's skyflakes crackers, the marshmallow is already too sweet when roasted and will only get sweeter if I use graham or chocolate cookies so I chose a salty cracker to go with it.

That is s'mores, Filipino style, my style.

Full moon in Hatta

Probably a couple of hours past midnight, we turned the lights off for bedtime and kept just one, just in case (lol)

Sunrise in Hatta

Woke up to this view in the morning.

Sunrise in Hatta

View of Hatta in the morning

Hatta Camping

Breakfast was...I actually don't remember. Hahaha, probably coffee and pandesal.

In a while, we were back on the road leading to the reservoir.

Hatta Kayay sign

We turned left in this t-junction with a Hatta Kayak Instagram handle signage and drove to the Hatta Dam parking lot.  Parked our car and walked down to the bridge.

Hatta Dam

and was greeted by the still turquoise water of the dam, mirroring the mountains and the sky.

Hatta Dam

We were here really early, between 6:30 and 7 am. Others were probably still sleeping or waking up on a peaceful Friday morning.

Hatta Dam

Hatta Dam

Hatta Kayak opens at 8 am so while waiting, we explored the area.

Map of Hatta

Hatta Dam Bridge

The other dam, an extension of the bigger dam is empty at the time of the visit.

and it is where the giant mural, an 80m x 30 m artwork of the founding fathers of UAE - Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum is painted. It is also a camping site.

By 8 am, we're back at the Hatta Kayak's gate. We didn't want to waste time. It was April and it gets hot at noontime so better finish before it gets really toasty. When we saw the staff of Hatta Kayak arrive, we followed them to the ticket booth, bought our tickets, put out bags in the locker, and boarded our kayaks.

The price for unlimited use of a single kayak is AED 60 and a double kayak is AED 120. Small kids must be accompanied by adults. Their contact number is +971566162111 but this is #notsponsored. I'm just sharing the information that I already have.

Kayaking in Hatta with Hatta Kayak

There are lockers you can use to keep valuables safe. If you want to keep some of your things with you, be warned. We were told to hold on to our dear phones, keys, sunglasses, or whatever loose items we wanted to carry while kayaking because if you dropped those into the water and sinks below, there's no way of getting them back. The dam is so deep, that it needs professional divers to get your stuff back or another way is to empty the reservoir of water, which is not an option.

Nope, swimming is not allowed, if you're thinking to ask.

As soon as the sun was too hot to handle, we went ashore.

and continue for lunch at the Hatta Dam Rest Area. This rest area has several open cabanas with palm-frond roofs, barbeque tables, and swings for children.

We reheated our leftovers from the night before and ate kamayan style, boodle fight it is, sans the banana leaf.

Water coolers are installed outside in most villas in Hatta where visitors can refill empty bottles with chilled water free of charge. It is a kind gesture of locals here in the UAE.

It was time for Friday prayer and my brother went to pray in the nearby mosque while some of us snoozed out our lunch.

It was already too hot to walk around Hatta Heritage Village so we decided to check on Hatta Wadi Hub instead. Most activities are outdoor but it is such a promising new development with plenty of things to do. I am looking forward to coming back here now that it is cooler.

Hatta Wadi Hub

It would be nice to go glamping with hubs in one of these Hatta trailers and go trekking or cycling maybe.

It was a lovely first here in Hatta. We enjoyed it so much.

For UAE residents, don't wait too long before you visit. Why not go this weekend?

For the tourist, it would be a great experience if you get to see this other face of Dubai.

For us, we have two activities lined up already in the next couple of weekends so see you when we see you again Hatta.

My Yellow Bells

Carla is a lifestyle blogger based in Dubai who's thankful to call this ever-evolving city her second home. The pages of this blog are filled with stories about her expat life in the sandpit. It features dining and travel adventures in and around the city and beyond. It also features food recipes, parenting tips, and fashion style.

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