Lee and Judy arrived on Wednesday evening this week for a visit. Our first visitors from home. Hooray! One of Lee's bags did not arrive so extra time was spent at the airport making the claim for lost luggage. A promise of it arriving the next day sent us on our way home. A little visit was all we had time for before heading to bed after 11pm. Al had to work the next day and of course they were jet lagged by missing a nights sleep.
Thursday I set them up for a lazy morning at the pool while I went to yoga. A bit of planning set us up for the day trip to Liwa on Friday.
Liwa, described as a desert paradise, is about 3 hours one way on a paved road from Abu Dhabi. In the South-Western region of the UAE in the Abu Dhabi Emirate, lies this beautiful Oasis town, which is also known for its access to Tal Moreeb Hill – or Scary Hill – one of the world’s biggest sand dunes in the entire world. I want to check this claim against the famous Dune 45 in Namibia which we have visited twice because of the amazing scenery. If you want to check out the photos of Namibia check our last trip journal called, ASIS On The Road Again, and choose the Sousevlei entry.
It’s an easy going drive although it may be because we are traveling on a Friday morning when everyone is at prayer. We have noticed Friday mornings are rather quiet or closed everywhere. Actually aiming for 3 hours, to get there would mean you would not be able to stop along the way to take pictures – however this is challenging to do as the road to Liwa is a picturesque one.
Along the way a small grocer caught our eye. We stopped for the boys to get a diet drink and went on our way once again. Many photos were taken along the road or even from the window as scenery changed continuously. The blonde dunes turned to golden and then hints of red tones. Fences looked buried at places and I wondered how many fences, maybe even homes have actually been completely buried over the years.
When reading about Liwa, it was mentioned to keep an eye out for black camels. Half-hearedly my thought was they were rare, but as we set out for Tal Moreeb, they they were, in all their glory. (on the camel farm photo they look quite dark but perhaps not black) We spent some time across from the camel farm oo-ing and ah-ing at the camels, across the road with their baby. They were going about their business, posing in their full camel glory. Lee, in particular managed to zoom in for some great close ups. It looked as though the baby was born not long ago. It eventually tried with wobbly legs to successfully stand up to follow the mother. We thought the male was the one sitting in the background.
After we satisfied ourselves with the camels, we took off for Tal Moreeb once more. Another detour begging to be driven and explored took us to the desert resort called Qasr Al Sarab Desert. We were all thankful Judy sent us up this particular road. Lee found out rooms cost about $500.00 per night for one of the cheaper rooms. To our delight they invited us in to snoop around even though we were not guests. The views and the local coffee and dates that Judy found to help ourselves to were worth the stop.
Driving down a windy highway (which is much better than many Canadian highways, I might add), the views were spectacular, amazing, fantastic, incredible. The dunes were huge in places. Some were steep, and rugged looking, some were curvaceous and elegant. The dunes were beautiful but very HOT! Lee and Al both attempt to walk up one of the dunes in the afternoon and ran back down because their feet were burning. OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!
The drive is a pleasant one with a great highway leading you right into the Empty Quarter and Tal Moreeb. On the way to Tal Moreeb (which is the tall sand dune) we kept on driving by small, but quite beautiful Mosques. They had a very unique but consistent design. We were out to find the Hill … the one and only, Tal Moreeb. The biggest sand dune in the UAE Empty Quarter; joining the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Getting to Tal Moreeb was quite simple, but recognizing when you were there was interesting. No signs identifying this particular dune.
We kept on driving, until we found a camel race track. Following this stop, the road led us to an open area with some camp sites and stalls with a few trailers. We guessed we had arrived at the Tal Moreeb Sand Dune but were not entirely sure as no signage confirmed our belief. We were surprised, because there was nothing really there. We did see a big long dune, took some photos just in case this was THE Dune and drove on.
As the daylight changed so did the look of the dunes. One might think that you’re driving through mountains, only these mountains were of a different colour. This experience was much like driving through Namibia's desert dunes. Just like the mountains at home, I would be difficult to tire of this scenery.
Before arriving in Liwa many little communities or villages enticed us to stop at the forts that all seemed to look the same. Judy was particularly interested in stopping at the one where the author and explorer of Arabian Sands novel, Wilfred Thesiger began his journey from by the wells just outside the fort. This novel is considered a classic of travel literature describing his journey across the empty quarter of the Arabian Peninsula between 1945-1950. Judy persisted until successful.
We got to Liwa and headed for the one and only hotel there, intuitively called – the Liwa Hotel. Stepping into the hotel itself, and walking through to the back pool area we discover the entertaining camel used for desert tours from here. The views into the sand dunes from here were also fantastic. At AED 1200 for a double room/night, the hotel seemed way to pricey for us but fun to visit and dream.
The trip from here back to Abu Dhabi was uneventful with the exception of a speeding car sending our heart rate way up when it blew by us incredibly fast. Must have been doing 200km per hour. Al was amazing at safely being able to navigate his way through the incredibly busy, crazy, traffic heading home in the dark. What a incredible day! We were all quite tired. That was a lot of time in the car today but well worth the drive.