Type of horses:
Arabian and Anglo Arabian
Nature of horses:
Strong, brave and fit.
Height of horses:
85kgs / 13 stone 5 lbs / 187 lbs
English - a lot is synthetic (ie. Wintec saddles and endurance webbing bridles) because of the dry climate.
The name Abu Dhabi means the "Land of the Gazelle" in Arabic and it is believed that the city was created when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water and they found an island containing only a few hundred palm huts (barasti) and the ruler's fort. This simple island settlement has since been transformed into the modern and cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi and is now the high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Our Abu Dhabi Desert ride is a unique experience for lovers of the Arabian horse and wide open desert landscapes. A perfect combination of modernity and tradition as you spend time exploring the bustling city of Abu Dhabi before setting out on your trail across the deserts of Al Watbha and Al Ain.
You ride on Arabian and Anglo Arabian horses which have come from across the Emirates region as well as Oman. They are mainly geldings although some are mares - and they are all fit, brave, strong and perfectly adapted to the desert conditions. Most are ridden in simple snaffle bridles and they are used to being ridden on a long, loose rein in walk and trot, responding to the riders weight and requiring only a light hand and leg aid. The tack is mostly synthetic English style as the desert climate is harsh on leather. You are also encouraged/expected to assist with grooming and tacking up your own horse, which helps you to form a bond with your companion.
You are usually guided by Emmanuelle - a French lady who has been running rides in Jordan, and more recently Oman, for many years. Occasionally one of her professional guides will lead the ride instead, but they have been hand-chosen for their skills and professionalism.
Your first and last nights are in four star hotels, but whilst on the riding trail you camp in the desert. Camps are situated in different locations each night so you can explore the desert landscape. There is a large dining tent plus Igloo style individual tents for sleeping in. There are also portable shower tents and hot water is prepared over the camp fire for you.
Whilst in the city you will dine in your hotel which offers local meals with an international influence.
Whilst on the trail, a camp chef will prepare all meals over an open fire or using a portable camping stove.
A tour of the city of Abu Dhabi is included, which will also give you a chance to explore the markets. Also included is a visit to the oasis city of Al Ain.
Non-riders would have to travel in the back-up vehicle and no programme is offered for them, so this ride is not particularly well suited to non-riders.
Languages: English, Arabic, French
Health requirements: Fit and able to cope with extremes of temperature.
Age limit: 10 years + (but must be competent riders and used to riding 14hh or higher)
Included: Accommodation (4 nights camping, 3 nights in hotels), riding, meals, visits as mentioned in the itinerary, transfers.
Not included: Flights, alcoholic drinks, sleeping bags, helmets, travel insurance, tips and personal expenses.
Etihad Airways and British Airways fly direct to Abu Dhabi from London Heathrow. Etihad Airways also fly direct to Abu Dhabi from Edinburgh and Manchester. Other airports are also possible but will require changing planes somewhere such as Istanbul (Turkish Airlines).
On arrival at Abu Dhabi airport you will be collected and transferred to your hotel.
It's also possible to fly into Dubai international airport which is only 1,5 hours by car from Abu Dhabi. We can organise transfer between the two cities.
Airport: Abu Dhabi
Alternative Airport: Dubai International
Please note that the programme is based on you taking an overnight flight from Europe, landing in Abu Dhabi on the morning of Day One (usually a Sunday). If you prefer to take a daytime flight then you could come the day before and we can assist in finding suitable accommodation.
Arrive into Abu Dhabi early in the morning and transfer to your hotel for breakfast and to relax for the morning.
In the afternoon you will have a tour of the city, which is located on an island connected to the mainland by three bridges. The capital is filled with skyscrapers but despite all these modern developments, there are still many fascinating and unique heritage attractions such as the Grand Mosque. There will be time to visit the traditional markets where you can taste and buy dates as well as see fishermen selling their catch of the day. You can also take a walk along the Corniche promenade - at almost 8km this is the longest in the UAE.
In the evening you will board a traditional Arabian boat - a "dhow" - where you will be offered a sumptuous local meal with the Abu Dhabi skyline as a backdrop.
Overnight in your four star hotel.
Days Two to Four:
After breakfast in your hotel you are transferred to the stables to meet the horses and guides. Before setting out it is traditional to partake of the local tea, called Karak - the perfect karak tea is a strong, black tea to which camel milk is added.
Set out riding on the beautiful horse tracks of the Abu Dhabi Endurance village. The village is built like an old fort with seven towers and whilst the architecture is historical, the equipment and facilities are modern with a veterinary clinic, media centre and other services. This Emirates Endurance Village was a gift from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan (director general of the President's office and board chairman of the International Petroleum Investment Company) to the sport of endurance - not just in the UAE but also to competitors all over the world.
Ride south and enter the Al Watbha desert of white sand which is extremely fine and crossing salt lakes and camel farms. For the next five days you are exploring this immaculate desert with its ever changing dunes - if you are lucky you may spot some desert gazelles.
Every 35kms you will reach your desert camp, where you will meet your desert team who will have set up the dining tents and be preparing your meals. You will ride early in the morning and late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day, so the lunchtimes can be long and restful. There are plenty of opportunities to open up the horses across the salt pans and hard baked sandy tracks.
Your ride continues in the direction of the Oman border until reaching the Al Ain oasis town, which is one of the oldest permanently inhabited settlements and a UNESCO world heritage site. The city is full of picturesque forts including Al Jahili which was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect the precious palm groves - this fort is now home to a permanent exhibition of the work of the British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger and his 1940's crossings of the Rub Al Khali (the Empty Quarter) desert. The re-developed Al Qattara fort now houses a brilliant arts centre and gallery offering hundreds of modern exhibits.
Here you say goodbye to the horses and riding team and are transferred to your four star hotel in Al Ain.
After breakfast you set out to explore Al Ain - which in Arabic means the eye or the source. This oasis city is the second largest in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and dates back to 4000BC. Al Ain is one of the agricultural centres of the Emirates and is most famous for its date plantations.
You will visit the Al Ain palace museum to see how Sheikhs used to live compared to their lives today. This is followed by a visit to the camel market before you finish at the foot of Jebel Hafit which is part of the Hajar mountain range. Here there are hot springs which are a popular recreational area for families.
At the end of the day you are transferred back to Abu Dhabi city to overnight in a hotel.
You will be transferred to Abu Dhabi hotel for your flight home.
|Minimum group size:||5|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||You need to be a fit, confident, and capable intermediate rider or higher as this is a demanding ride with some long hours in the saddle.|
|Type of ride:||Mobile trail ride.|
|Total riding time:||4 days riding: 4-6 hours riding each day covering c. 35kms each day|
|Departure dates:||2017: 8-14 January; 15-21 January; 29 January-4 February; 5-11 February; 12-18 February; 19 - 25 February; 26 February-4 March; 29 October-4 November; 5-11 November; 12-18 November; 19-25 November; 3-9 December; 10-16 December; 30 December-5 January (New Year Special).|
£1569 per person.
Price includes 6 nights of accommodation (3 nights in 4* hotels, 3 nights camping), 4 riding days, Abu Dhabi visit, Al Ain visit, all meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 7.