You may have heard of the sulphur springs in Oman, the white travertine terraces in Pammukale, (Turkey), the salt flats in Bolivia and the salt lakes in Siwa (Egypt), but have you visited the salt lakes in Abu Dhabi??
Abu Dhabi is full of hidden gems, from Shuweihat Island to fossil dunes; if you’re willing to get off the beaten path, adventure awaits! If you’re an adventure seeker planning a visit to the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, then visiting the salt lakes in Abu Dhabi is an absolute MUST.
What is it?
Salt lakes form when the water flowing into the lake, containing salt or minerals, cannot leave because the lake has no exit point. The water then evaporates, leaving behind dissolved salts and thus increasing its salinity, making a salt lake an excellent place for salt production. To be honest, I am not sure exactly how the Abu Dhabi one has formed because it’s in the middle of the desert but it’s there and it’s pretty!
I suggest visiting sooner rather than later before it becomes overrun with tourists who have discovered it or before the government shuts it down and commercialises it (which is very likely to happen in the UAE!)
Please note, this is a rustic bare-bones adventure. There are no facilities nearby or places to purchase food. Everything must be brought and taken back with you.
DO I NEED A 4 WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE?
No you do not. However, you do need to drive off road for this so a car with a higher clearance is preferable but a regular sedan can handle it. Be careful to only drive on compact sand areas and you will be fine.
If it has been raining and you don’t have a vehicle with 4WD, please avoid going until drier weather conditions prevail.
We did not take a 4WD vehicle, just a regular SUV as pictured below:
WILL IT COST ME MONEY?
Nope not a cent. Just rock up and enjoy your time there!
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Google Maps is fairly accurate but as you get closer, be aware:
You will be driving parallel to a green fence. Look for the area where there is a break in the fence:
At this point, drive right, making sure the fence is now on your left hand side. Look out the for this landmark:
Follow the Google Maps pin by driving towards the mounds of sand. Although you cannot see it from the road, once you disembark and climb up the slight hill, you will clearly spot the salt lakes.
WHAT CAN I DO THERE?
You can do whatever you like but please be sensible. There are signs saying no entry and I think this is to deter idiots. You can picnic, bbq and just relax in the area but please take your garbage back to the city with you.
Swimming is possible and you cannot drown due to the high quantity of salt in the water. For the same reason, any cuts or burns you have will sting! The water is cold at first but warms up eventually.
If you have kids with you, please monitor them as falling on the salt can be extremely painful. While the salty water will keep you buoyant, children falling in are never a good idea.
Be careful not to hurt your feet though as the salt can be hard and cut your skin. I wore my sandals the entire time we were there and even in the water. I advise bringing water shoes or outdoor sandals.
There is no end to the photos you can take here as the colours of the water are really stunning!
WHAT ARE THE RATINGS ON PANDA’S RATING SCALE?
Honestly, if you’re in emirate then you should be prioritizing seeing these stunning salt formations. The hues of green, blue and white dazzle the human eye and you will marvel as such a phenomenon occurring in the middle of the desert. Its only a 40 minute drive from the city of Abu Dhabi city so what’s holding you back?
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Have you considered visiting the salt lakes in Abu Dhabi? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!