Most people associate Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE, with the tallest structures, world-class infrastructure and top-notch landmarks. While it is certainly true that the emirate boasts all these attractions, there’s another side to Abu Dhabi that not many people are aware of. We are talking about Al Wathba Fossil Dunes here. This is a place where you can enjoy the spectacular natural beauty and spend some relaxing time with your family.

Away from the hubbub of the city and closer to nature, visiting Al Wathba Fossil Dunes should definitely be part of your bucket list when you’re visiting Abu Dhabi. Even if you live in Dubai, you can easily reach Al Wathba Fossil Dunes in Abu Dhabi, explore the site and be back to your residence by the end of the day.

With that said, let’s find out everything about this hidden gem in Abu Dhabi – Al Wathba Fossil Dunes:  

Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

The fossil dunes found here are 100% natural formations. They come into existence the same way as sand dunes – thanks to sand-laden winds that flow over a very long period of time. The sand, in the case of fossil dunes, is infused with calcium carbonate. This is why it gets hardened over time and takes the form of abstract natural sculpture.

Location of Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

Al Wathba Fossil Dunes are located at a distance of approximately 70km from Abu Dhabi on Al Ain Truck Road. It can be reached within 40 minutes. From Dubai, the distance is 152km, while the travel time is around 1 hour 35 minutes, depending on the traffic conditions.

Entrance Fee of Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

Al Wathba desert is a free-of-cost attraction in the capital. There’s no entry fee charged.  

When to Visit Al Wathba Fossil Dunes?

This attraction is open all year round for visitors. There are no opening or closing hours. However, due to the harsh summer weather in the emirate and the lack of shaded space in the area, it’s best to visit this site at a time when the weather is moderate, i.e. from October to February.

Things to Know Before Visiting Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

Here are a few things you should know to make your visit a safe and pleasant one:

  • According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCE), climbing the structures and jumping on them is not allowed as it can cause damage to them.
  • There are no eateries or food stalls located nearby. Therefore, it’s recommended to bring water and snacks with you.
  • If you own a Sedan, prefer leaving it at home and rent an SUV for this trip. Otherwise, you will have to park your car on the roadside and reach the dunes on foot. It can be 5 to 7 minutes long walk. However, if you’re in an SUV, you can take your car to the site directly.
  • Before clicking pictures, make sure you are not in the “photography prohibited” zone. This is due to the fact that the army base isn’t located too far from this site.  

Interesting Fact about Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

The site of Al Wathba Fossil Dunes has been a popular spot among Hollywood filmmakers. Several movies, including the famed Six Underground and Star Wars: The Force Awakens feature these dunes.

Places to Visit Around Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

While you’re visiting Al Wathba Fossil Dunes, make sure to check out these places to have an even better trip:

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

It is another free to visit attraction located close to Al Wathba Fossil Dunes. The amazing part of this reserve is that it houses around 4000 flamingos. This is something hard to imagine in a desert, but it’s the UAE we are talking about. There are many seemingly impossible things that you’ll encounter here in this country.

Including flamingos, there are 250 bird species you will find here at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. It is open from October to April. Make sure to adhere to the safety precautions you’ll be asked to follow by the authorities there. Also, don’t forget to carry sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen, walking shoes, binoculars and camera with you.

Al Wathba Desert

The entire area surrounding the fossil dunes is the Al Wathba desert. You can explore this area for photography purposes. It features a camel race track, a bicycle track, an observatory and a few ponds that are scattered here and there.  

A Final Word

In all, if you are fond of outdoor adventure, it is a must-visit place. It will help you take a break from your work routine and rejuvenate your soul. So, leave the comfort of your lavish apartment in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and head over to this beautiful site to appreciate nature in its raw form. 

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