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Are you an athlete, a challenger, or just someone curious about discovering the UAE from a different perspective? Our very last find of the year, Liwa with UAE Trekkers, made it to the top of our ‘best of 2018’.
Looking for a short trek to join in the UAE, we stumbled upon a website and Facebook page that encouraged us to dig into their trek circuits and options as they propose a large variety of walks (within and outside of the UAE) that cater to all levels and ages-from newbies, families with kids, to athletes looking for training options before joining the Kilimanjaro climb. Not a joke, they propose it all!
During the 2018 winter break, we decided it was now time to discover the UAE from a different angle and booked ourselves on a two-day trip in the highest dunes of the country: Liwa. This trek consisting of a 2x10km walk in the dunes of Liwa over two days, we actually didn’t know how hard a 10km walk in the sand dunes would be.
We did join a short tour with Out of the Gym (our experience here) to get an idea and it was actually very useful-it totally gave us the confidence and thrill to do more!
Our Liwa walk experience
After joining the trip and paying online, we received details a week before the trip and felt like the process was really smooth with all practical information clearly given, from the material to carry, the trip details and more.
We ended up being a 25+group, mixing different nationalities – Russia, UAE, India, UK, Germany, France, US- with people either living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, friends and relatives spending holidays during the winter break and a couple of tourists wanting to discover the Liwa desert.
A couple of trekkers arranged carpooling to get a ride with people driving from Abu Dhabi or Dubai and the meeting point was on Friday morning in Liwa.
Some arrived before 9 am in order to join an hour and a half training walk in the dunes and others arrived before noon at The Residence in Liwa – the Liwa Art Hub residence – just in time to join lunch and get prepared for the first-afternoon walk. After enjoying lunch and a jump in the pool facing the dunes, we got to work and browsed the items we could hire for the trek, including poles, sand gaiters, head torches and camelback.
At 3.30pm, we started the walk from the Residence and enjoyed the amazing views over the Liwa dunes. All guests had a fantastic experience watching the sunset from the top of the dunes and taking time to observe the wonderful splash of colours changing in the sky that evening.
The guides accompanying the group were extremely professional, paying attention to everyone, and proposing either easier or more challenging solutions so that every single participant could make the most of his experience walking in the sand dunes. The large group was naturally divided into smaller groups, each of them under the supervision of one of the guides, so that each of us could go on our own pace without fearing to be too slow, which was one main concern before joining.
All along the way, the guides would communicate with one another via walkie-talkies and with a car that was always nearby in case some of us in the group would need to stop or need some help. We would also make regular stops and meeting points allowing the group to reunite and catch up over a short break.
We felt really blessed to end 2018 on such a unique note and experience this desert trek in Liwa. You can actually watch below the UAE Trekkers posted on their Instagram page about the tour we took part in.
We were back at the residence before 8 pm and after a much needed shower, dinner was served outdoors with BBQ and a large buffet of veggies. The weather was quite chilly and it felt really awesome to end the day around a large bonfire with delicious s’mores.
A short night awaited us as the wake-up time was scheduled for 5.30am. We got varied options to sleep: some decided to sleep at the top of a dune facing the residence, others opted to sleep under the stars beside the pool and a few went for a night of sleep at the open majlis.
We were all given a bedouin mattress to sleep on- very comfortable – with cushions and blankets for everyone. We encourage the audacious among all to bring a warm jacket and a woolly hat if you choose to sleep under the stars as temperatures can easily drop below 10 Celcius degrees at winter time.
At 5.30 am the second day, we had a few minutes to get ready and with the torch screwed on our head, we all started the walk before 6 am in order to be high in the dunes to enjoy the sunrise. What we loved most was probably the gorgeous set up awaiting us in the dunes at breakfast time.
An oversized bedouin carpet fitting us all was awaiting us at the top of a dune. The early walk had whet our appetite and it was amazing to get cheese, omelette, fresh salad along with tea or coffee, fresh fruits and even a banoffee cake, amongst the delicacies served in the dunes.
After this reinvigorating breakfast, we went back on our walk for an hour and a half before taking a second break for snacks, fruits and plenty of water to refill our camelbacks.
The last hour of the walk before heading back to The Residence was probably the most tiring as there were a couple of high dunes to climb and the more the sun gets high in the sky, the softer the sand is, making each step heavier. It was totally manageable though and we really appreciated the way the guides were looking after each participant, adjusting the pace to fit the group’s levels. While some would go for higher dunes and more tricky paths, others would go for easier options and we would all often meet to gather again.
Back to the Residence at everyone’s own pace, a jump in the pool was definitely appreciated and we enjoyed our last meal with the group and sharing our overall magical trek experience, having almost only one question in mind, when can we join again?
Apart from this walk in the dunes, UAE Trekkers organize various trips within the UAE and the region, for all group levels, from beginners and family walks to more extreme hiking options in the mountains. They also organize regular excursions to join for those who want to prepare for the Kilimanjaro climb.
The pricing and additional remarks
This excursion cost 890 AED per person including the two lunches, breakfast, snacks and dinner. The accessories rentals were adds-on. The sand gaiters we bought upon arrival did an amazing job and avoided us having sand getting inside our trekking shoes. If you feel like joining these walks or trekking throughout the season, it is worth investing in poles, head torches and a camelback rather than renting them.
Investing in proper trekking shoes with ankle support before the trip was also accurate as we didn’t have to make use of the varied blasters we had carried with us.
The next Liwa trek will take place Friday, February 22, 2019, 11:00 PM to Saturday, February 23, 2019, 1:00 PM. For further details check out https://www.facebook.com/
UAE TREKKERS | https://www.uae-trekkers.com
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