UAE Off-road : travel maps, tips & GPS routes
Our tips to organise your road-trip in the United Arab Emirates
In this article, you will find all our advice to organise your road-trip in the United Arab Emirates: itinerary, vehicle choice (4×4, motorbike, van, etc.), practical information about the country, budget, etc.
- If you are planning a trip to Oman, the book UAE OFF-ROAD will be of great help to you.
Why explore the UAE by 4×4 ?
Dubai and Abu Dhabi megacities aside, United Arab Emirates offers great spaces to be explored. Notice to lovers of sand-driving and desert landscapes! Indeed, almost the entire territory is a sandy desert, featuring a mountainous region in the north and some oasis such those of Al-Ain and Liwa. Sunsets in the desert of Rub Al-Khali offer magnificent lights. In addition, you can admire the milky way with no light pollution and you may have the chance to come across an Arabian Oryx. Do not forget to attend a camel race!
On the map below, we have mapped our itinerary over 12 days. Of course, this is not the optimal route since it is always better to improvised! Our itinerary was inspired by the “UAE Off Road” book.
Our itinerary inspired by the book UAE Off-Road
We recommend you to buy the UAE Off ROAD book to plan your route. You don’t have to drive all tracks, but it is a good base to plan your own road trip. Warning: it is better to avoid big cities outskirts, which are often polluted and dotted with plants.
Schould you want to get out of the paved or marked traffic lanes, it is mandatory to use a powerful 4×4 (see article what 4×4 to choose). In addition, we recommend you to have some basic knowledge of sand-driving or to split the team in two cars (which will allow you to quickly get out of sand in case of trouble).
The desert climate requires you to have your trip scheduled between October and May, because during the rest of the year, temperatures can reach 122°F.
Download our GPS routes
Useful infos about the UAE
Arabic and English
No visa required if staying less than 90 days
From Paris : € 300 – 400 round trip
Best season: from October to May. During the rest of the year, temperature may reach 122°F.
– Food: €7 – 10 for a hearty meal in an Indian restaurant. Expect way higher prices in tourist restaurants in big cities.
– Airbnb: at least 25 euros/person. If you are a numerous group, we recommend you rent an entire apartment in a Dubai or Abu Dhabi tower for a night.
– Wild camping allowed throughout the country
We tried to rent a motocross bike (and even a buggy) by sending emails to different agencies in the country. Impossible to find one for a reasonable price.
Nevertheless, you can rent a buggy (4 people) : hourly rate arround €80/hour
Our budget for a road-trip to the UAE
Budget for a group of 9 people – 12 days with two 4wd vehicles – 2 days in Dubaï (February 2018)
|Price||Days||Group Total||Indiv Total|
|Rental 4x4 (Toyota LandCruiser)||68 € /day||12||816€||90,6€|
|4×4 Rental (Toyota Prado)||57 € /day||12||684€||76€|
|Accommodation Dubaï (flat on 72th floor)||250 € /night||2||380 €||42,2 €|
|Food (including 6 restaurants)||90 € /day||15||1350 €||150 €|
|Fuel||55 € /day||12||660 €||73,3 €|
|Vehicle repairs||140 €||-||140€||15,56€|
|Flight tickets||380 €||-||3420 €||380 €|
|Boat tour to the mangrove||100 €||-||100 €||11 €|
|Others (camping equipment, taxi)||250 €||-||250 €||27,7 €|
|UAE Off Road Book||33 €||-||33 €||3,7 €|
|TOTAL||7833 €||870 €/pers|
Our favorite places in the United Arab Emirates
Rub Al-Khali Sands
The genuine desert! Rub Al Khali is the largest desert in the world, it crosses part of the country, and there it is better preserved. To be discovered: for the pleasure of waking up in the middle of the dunes, and enjoying a blazing sunset or a starry sky. Please ensure that one member of the team master sand-driving and split the group in two vehicles (which will allow you to quickly get out of sand, in case in trouble).
Off-Roading between Liwa and Al-Ain
There is a small “secret” trail that runs from Liwa to Al Ain along the borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. Dunes with peach tones, a real playground for sand-driving. We were also lucky to be able to watch wildlife which is difficult elsewhere in the Emirates (Arabian Oryx …). Before you head off on this track, ensure you have a suitable supply of water (minimum 4 liters per person a day).
“Stairway to Heaven” hike
A hike through the northern mountains of the country, with more than 1500 meters height difference in 15 kms: a beautiful challenge rewarded by amazing rocky landscapes and a breathtaking view over the canyon! It’s different from the desert, which covers almost the whole country! Warning: good physical condition required.
Not to be missed under any circumstances! Between September and March, early in the morning around 7:30 am (at 8:30 am the show is already over), camel races take place three to four times a week. Hundreds of camels galloping on the tracks at a crazy speed. They carry on their backs remotely controlled tiny robot jockeys . Races are moments of intense emotional release. Owners of the animals drive their 4×4, follow their camels on parallel tracks, honk and howl to encourage them. Ambiance…
If you have any questions (4×4 rental4×4 rental4×4 rental, itinerary, wild camping, etc.), feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article, or join our facebook group dedicated to exploring the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Don’t forget to download our GPS routes and our practical sheet for driving on the sand before you leave!
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