5 of the best places to go glamping in Abu Dhabi
For a very in-tents sort of staycation…
There’s a lot to be said for connecting out into the great outdoors, unplugging, and breathing in lungfulls of fresh air. That’s always been a major part of the appeal of camping. It’s not for everyone however, there are those that are a little reluctant to let go of their big city creature comforts. And that’s where glamping comes in with best of both worlds compromise. The great outdoors, with great indoors, and importantly for the UAE — air con on tap.
These are just some of the best glamping experiences available in Abu Dhabi right now.
Anantara al Sahel — Sir Bani Yas
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OK starting straight off by breaking the first rule of glamp club, these are technically ‘safari villas’ — but we’re keeping them in because, well, look at them. Sir Bani Yas is Abu Dhabi’s very own Jurassic Park, if you exchange murderous giant dinosaurs with an exotic collection of African mammals. Accessed via a 25-minute boat ride from Jebel Dhanna (itself a two-hour drive from downtown Abu Dhabi), the island wilderness is home to a collection of exciting wildlife, architectural wonder, romantic vistas and three luxury Anantara resorts. This castaway paradise is a protected Royal Nature Reserve, flourishing with over 11,000 animals, including 30 different endangered species such as blackbuck antelope and Arabian oryx as well as giraffe, ostrich and cheetah. Guests on the island have the opportunity to go on-safari and snatch memorable opportunities to glimpse these rare creatures, without a single cage or handler in sight.
Sir Bani Yas is located 8 km off the coast of Jebel Dhanna (two hours’ drive from downtown Abu Dhabi), accessible by complimentary water taxi or private seaplane. You can book stays on the anantara.com website, starting at Dhs1,999 with full board and all inclusive options.
Bab Al Nojoum – Hudayriyat Island
Bab Al Nojoum is located on Abu Dhabi’s full-blooded adventure island Hudayriyat, accessible by bridge from the Al Bateen area on the mainland. The main attractions of Bab Al Nojoum are the range of tent and more luxurious ‘camping’ options and, of course, blissful beach relaxation — curling up in a shaded hammock with a gripping page-turner. But the onsite facilities also offer more active exploits such as watersports; volleyball and the adrenaline thrills found just a short stroll away in the rest of Hudayriyat.. Book here.
Bab Al Nojoum, Hudayriyat Leisure & Entertainment District. Tel: (02) 691 0222, babalnojoum.com
Bab Al Nojoum – Al Mugheirah
Abu Dhabi has a new camping experience snug in the remote neigbourhood of Al Mugheirah, Al Mirfa. It is run by Bab Al Nojoum who run the operations on Hudayriyat Island (above). Here you can try a variety of activities such as tree planting, kite flying at dusk, fishing, horse riding, falconry, take craft classes, snorkel, explore the mangrove, try hiking, biking, yoga, swimming, watersports, futsal, boardgames, and more. There are even expert guided tours. There are one bedroom and two bedroom cabins plus gorgeous AirStream campers.
Al Mugheirah, Al Mirfa, Abu Dhabi, prices start from Dhs683 per night. babalnojoum.com
Pura Eco Resort
For a real slice of nature, you need to put Jubail Mangrove Park on your must-visit list. It’s a huge boardwalk through natural mangroves with kayaking, wildlife spotting and more. You can even ‘glamp’ on the island in one of a series of shorefront eco domes. You’ll find a spa, waterside dining and a roving green expanse for long walks, kayak trips or dawn-lit yoga sessions. Your spacious domes come with sourced pieces and locally crafted artwork, a lush bed and more, Outside, you’ll find cabanas and a fire pit. If you want the real deal, opt for the native tents instead.
Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, Mangrove park, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (0)50 383 7878. staypura.com
Jebel Hafit Desert Park
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jebel Hafit is Abu Dhabi’s tallest peak, located in Al Ain, about 90 minutes’ drive from the capital city. Now operated by Pura Eco Retreats, the team that brought you those gorgeous glamping bubbles on Jubail Island, the campground offers static high-end tented accommodation as well as pitches for those that wish to bring their own canvas and poles. Holiday-makers come here to hike the heritage trails, mountain bike (rental available), enjoy dune buggy tours, ride camels and breathe in the rare fresh air (and lack of light pollution) that contributes to the perfect conditions for astronomy. Those with a historical thirst should make the trek to Jebel Hafit’s two archeological sites. One, a neolithic excavation, dates back 8,000 years — whilst the other, a 5,000-year-old tomb was excavated in 1959 on the orders of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Jebel Hafit Desert Park, Jebel Hafeet, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (0)3 711 8362. jebelhafitdesertpark.com