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Picture from the Liwa desert Image Credit: PHOTO: AHMED KUTTY/Gulf News

Awafi, Ras Al Khaimah

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24 DECEMBER 2011 NATION Awafi Festival at Ras Al Khaimah. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Perhaps one of the most well-known camping destinations in the UAE, the Awafi desert area is an ideal spot for those venturing out with families, with many venturing to this spot over the weekends. Aside from a quad biking hotspot, the site also hosts the annual festival to celebrate the emirate’s ethnic and cultural heritage.

Al Faya Desert, Sharjah

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Riding along the Sharjah-Kalba Road, towards the east-coast exclaves, will lead you to a spectacular desert of ruby sand. Both amateurs and skilled drivers favour it due to its dunes, which are bigger than Al Badayer. As a matter of fact, the popular opinion is that one can find the biggest dunes to ride down here, and hence is known under the name “Big Fall” also. This is a popular tourist spot to set up camp under the stars.

Al Badayer, Sharjah

In addition to off-roading across its golden dunes, Al Badayer in Sharjah is a famous camping destination where you can enjoy the silence, golden sunsets and the absence of light pollution to take in the beauty of a star-filled night sky. And if the moment strikes, do take a shot at the Big Red dune and come out on the other side as a winner.

Al Khaznah, Abu Dhabi

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The desert stretch between Al Ain and Abu Dhabi is an off-roader’s delight, promising an unwavering desert vista that’s usually devoid of too many vehicles. Although, it is advisable to have a convoy of two to three vehicles if you happen to be a novice off-roader. Also, pack warm clothes as the temperatures are known to dip at night, bringing on some serious chills. Al Khaznah is also on the route of many desert safaris and camps in case the solo trip isn’t too appealing.

Liwa, Abu Dhabi

As the gateway to the majestic Rub Al Khali or The Empty Quarter – the world’s sandiest desert – Liwa itself is a cluster of villages surrounding an oasis on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, with a few restaurants tucked away and a handful of desert hideaways. Those with 4x4s and a penchant for dune bashing must attempt the Mureeb Dune in the Rub Al Khali. However, be warned, while this is the ultimate camping spot for silent reflection, the towering dunes aren’t for the novice drivers and it is best advised to travel here with a GPS and a convoy of vehicles for assistance.

Swaihan, Abu Dhabi

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Participants during the The 40th edition of Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive, 'Tilal Swaihan Experience'. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Located in Abu Dhabi, it is on the border of three cities: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain. Swaihan is known as ‘Little Liwa’, since it is the practising ground of Liwa enthusiasts. Swaihan is different than the other deserts and is only advised for experienced drivers, due to its big dunes and soft sands. With proper guiding and GPS, one can see an abundance of camels and lone Emiratis with their falcons here. Naqrah is a sand dune located deep in the Swaihan desert, which needs to be tried at least once by dune bashing buffs.