Abu Dhabi, a highly favored stopover for numerous travelers en route to various destinations, beckoned to us on our way to Mauritius. This time, we decided to extend our usual 3-hour break to a full 20-hour long stopover. The pressing question was - what adventures could Abu Dhabi offer in a mere 20 hours?
With less than a day at our disposal, meticulous planning was essential. We pre-arranged a safari desert tour, which conveniently picked us up at the airport, steering us straight towards the desert, thereby saving us the taxi fare.
Embarking on a safari desert tour is an escapade you wouldn’t want to miss. The adventure commences with the Land Cruiser darting towards the expansive desert dunes.
The ride is rather wild, jolting you up, down, and sideways through the desert. If travel sickness is a concern, we recommend taking a preventive measure like a pill.
Amidst the desert, you'll find yourself in a quaint village where you can revel in camel riding, unwind in a tent, and most exhilarating of all, try sand-boarding – a desert counterpart to snowboarding.
The absence of lifts necessitates a somewhat strenuous walk up the dunes, under the sun’s scorching rays.
Once you begin descending, the friction is so intense that movement becomes a struggle. As a seasoned snowboarder, the pace felt sluggish to me, not to mention the challenge of controlling the board.
Nevertheless, it was a jaunt filled with laughter and amusement. :)
Post sand-boarding, another thrilling ride through the desert awaits, culminating in Abu Dhabi's heart after about 4 hours.
Our itinerary then led us to the renowned Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a staple recommendation for anyone visiting Abu Dhabi.
This architectural marvel, one of the world’s largest mosques, accommodates an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It showcases 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers, and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet.
Although I usually don't gravitate towards such places, the beauty of this mosque left me awe-struck.
Entry is complimentary, albeit with a specific dress code, especially for women. Provision for appropriate attire is made for those unprepared. Certain decorum like avoiding hand-holding with your partner is expected, though photography is permitted.
This place is unquestionably worth the visit.
Post-mosque, our quest to explore the city further commenced. However, with August temperatures soaring to about 46°C, walking was not an option. Thankfully, taxis were aplenty and air-conditioned.
Abu Dhabi's vastness led to a taxi tour around the city, halting whenever a site piqued our interest for a photo stop and exploration.
As lunchtime neared, our energy started to wane. We set course for another Abu Dhabi highlight - Observation Deck at 300, where an afternoon tea reservation awaited us.
Perched 300 metres above, on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah Hotel, the Observation Deck is a vantage point for beholding Abu Dhabi’s majestic skyline, or for a leisurely afternoon tea while soaking in panoramic views of the UAE’s capital.
Nested in one of Abu Dhabi's newest and tallest skyscrapers – a backdrop for the recent “Fast and Furious 7” film – the sights from up here were simply breathtaking. A perfect respite following an exhilarating day amidst desert dunes and bustling city streets.