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Outdoor adventures around Dubai

Famous for its ultra modern skyline and endless designer shopping, Dubai is the last place you'd think of when it comes to outdoor adventure. Surprisingly though you'll find over 50 exciting outdoor pursuits in the region, from archery and sailing to camel polo and off-road cycling. For a break from the malls check out a few of our favourites outside the city walls.

Hot air ballooning

Head to The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a 30-minute drive from the centre of Dubai, and you can enjoy a magical balloon ride over endless sand dunes and emerald oases.

From the sky you'll be able to spot native Arabian animals in their natural habitat, from wandering camels to gazelles and oryx, making this the perfect alternative to the bustle of the malls and skyscrapers.

Most flights last around one hour. For some seriously breathtaking views, take to the sky at dawn and watch the sunrise from behind the impressive Dubai skyline.

Desert Safari

With the desert on its doorstep, Dubai is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Arabian dunes. For the adrenaline-seekers, dune bashing will see you whipping across the desert in a 4x4 vehicle, plummeting down sheer drops as your experienced driver gives you the ride of your life. Camel trekking offers a slower pace of transport, while Arabic buffet dinners served in authentic Bedouin camps give visitors a glimpse into the country's traditional lifestyle.

Other desert activities include sand boarding and quad biking, and don't miss the chance to simply watch the sun rise or set across the arid plains. From half day to overnight safaris available, you're sure to find an excursion to meet your needs.


Paintballing enthusiasts will be in their element in Dubai. Scramble amid purpose built ruined outhouses as you take part in some original and exciting paintball games in the arena at Pursuit Games. Located in the south of the city, play classic games like capture the flag or practise your C.I.A skills in 'President', escorting an unarmed team member across the make-believe war zone.

Over at Sharjah Paintball Centre, you'll combat with your friends in the 5000-square-metre Jungle arena. You can catch your breath in a bunker, stake out behind an aeroplane or spot your enemy from the high towers that are all unique in the UAE. They also have an indoor replica London arena complete with Rolls Royce, black taxis and red telephone boxes – all of which have been imported from the UK.

Hiking and canyoning

Escape Dubai's hectic city life and head for the spectacular mountains of the UAE, exploring ancient settlements, extensive terraced fields and fantastic hiking trails. A two-hour drive northeast of Dubai will land you in The Musandam Peninsula, home to a collection of canyons and fascinating traces of the past. For a gentle hike, climb the two secret staircases hand built into the cliff faces by Pakistani goat-herders at Khab Al Shamsi, and explore the tiny settlement at the top.

If you're worried about being out in the heat, never fear as the air around the mountain range is at least 10°C cooler than in the city. The whole area also benefits from a glorious breeze and shade at different times of the day. You'll also find the site of the UAE's highest waterfall in Wadi Warrayah, where you can take part in canyoning trips through cascading pools and narrow cliff faces.

Endless watersports

Whatever watersport you're craving, Dubai has it. The endless stretches of white sand beaches provide all the usual suspects from water skiing to parasailing and banana boats, but as the watersports' scene continues to expand you'll find plenty of companies offering lessons in more unique activities.

Along the main coastal resorts there are extensive watersports centres offering a huge range of adrenaline-fuelled pursuits. Both wind surfing and kite boarding have gained popularity over recent years and there are an array of spectacular diving and snorkelling spots along Dubai's coast.

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