Close to the Oman Border lies a jewel of the UAE that is fast becoming more and more popular among tourists and expats alike.
Attracting car enthusiasts from around the world, as it is known for its road being one of the best driving routes in the world, is road to the Hajar Mountain Range, translated as the “Rocky Mountains”.
Hatta, once a quiet town, home to the fort and smaller farms in the desert landscape, now attracts hundreds of tourists, as well as adventure seekers either looking to cycle, run, canoe or camp in the beautiful landscapes.
My favourite part about Hatta was without doubt the blue waters of the Hatta Lake. We decided to spend the night at the JA Hatta Fort Hotel.
When To Go:
I went to Hatta during the summer months and regretted it as it was just too hot and unmanageable, therefore I couldn’t do any of the activities or even go out into the lake on canoes. The best time would be to go during the UAE’s winter months.
We got to take the Scooby for a test run and test out the open roads!
- The drive is 150km and takes about 1h30 to drive from Dubai / Dubai Marina.
- It can get VERY hot, so a) make sure you take enough chilled water to keep hydrated, and b) you might need to pull over and let your car cool down if you’re traveling in the hot summer months (like we did)
- Please note that you have to drive the long way around and not go through Oman, where the border crossing is now closed and you will be turned away, adding 2 more hours to your journey!
- Don’t forget there are speed radars so adhere to the speed limits according to signage!
Pulling over so that the car can cool down. It’s very easy for cars to overheat in these unforgiving conditions! My iPhone also started overheating in the car (even though I wasn’t using it) – the temperatures were around 45 degrees Celsius.
We have finally arrived! (The journey wasn’t long but my word I am not used to the Middle East heat in summer!) You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the “JA Hatta Fort” Hotel sign.
The beautifully landscaped gardens welcome you to the perfect desert oasis: The JA Hatta Fort Hotel. The staff were extremely attentive from the minute you handed your keys over at the valet. The reception was gorgeous with the most beautiful scent (I need it for my house!!) and the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly. The General Manager, was on site, and highly involved, greeting and chatting to all guests upon their welcome.
The view on the walk up to our villa / room.
Our bags were taken to our room, and after being cramped in our studio apartment in Dubai Marina – we were pleasantly surprised with all the space! We opted for the Deluxe Mountain View Room.
The room was spacious with a king size bed, but the real deal was actually the gorgeous bathroom with a huge shower, vanity area and bathtub. (Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures), but I did get this one off of their website:
We also had a lovely spacious balcony which overlooks the mountain range and even the Hollywood style “Hatta” sign in the mountains (which unfortunately can’t be seen from my iPhone camera). This would have been the absolute perfect place to relax or read on a cooler winters day! (I also got this image off of their website as for some reason my photo game was lacking on this trip!)
There were loads of facilities at the resort, though we could not make use of them all due to the extreme heat conditions. The activities included archery, putt putt (mini golf), a games room, hiking trails, tennis courts and more!
Did You Know: This Hotel was established in the 1980s and is one of the oldest hotels in the UAE!
One thing we did make use of, however, was one of the two pools. The main pool had Mountain View’s and had a poolside cafe as well where we ordered drinks all afternoon while swimming.
The pool area was great, you could order shisha if you like, or lay on a dumbed, and there were even some covered parts of the pool to swim in the shade!
I loved the freshly squeezed juices!
One thing I was completely appalled and upset about was the fact that I was sharing the pool with a (South African) couple, yes people from my home country, which would have been exciting and awesome to connect with 8000km away from home, but instead, they were saying extremely horrible and rude things about me, in Afrikaans, for about 30 to 45 minutes at least. I did not confront the situation because a) I am not a confrontational person, and b) I also just wanted to see how far they would take it. I was absolutely shocked and disgusted at the things they were saying about me. Now Afrikaans was my Second Language at school, so I would say I’m pretty fluent in understanding it, which is the last thing the expected, for an Indian girl in the UAE to speak Afrikaans. I was going to leave the situation altogether, but then I felt somewhat a duty to my country which I am usually very proud of, and for people like that to do what they were doing, gives South Africans a bad name, and as she walked past when she was leaving I smiled and kindly said, “excuse me, I speak Afrikaans”, just because I wanted her to know that you shouldn’t bully other people and talk down about anybody. She was horrified and just shrieked “great” and ran away. I could have reported it to the hotel because I’m pretty sure the things they were saying were not only hurtful, demeaning, and rude, but they were also throwing in accusations that I’m pretty sure would be illegal. No matter I left it, and as long as she knows that I know she was intentionally being a horrible and mean human being, hopefully that would encourage her not to treat others the way she treated me!
I decided to put that episode behind me, as unfortunately I am quite used to this sort of thing, and just carry on enjoying my trip! We relaxed by the pool, and I grabbed one of the chairs overlooking the oasis of gardens and lush green grass and trees.
It was truly magical to be surrounded by so much of life in such a dry desert area! The grass was so soft! We crossed over and decided to walk up to the view point, which was just to the right of these gardens.
It’s an easy walk, but was tiring for me, as already swimming took a lot of strain and I was having quite a bad MND episode. No matter it was still a pretty view!
This is the view of the resort from the view point! It was pretty, but not much to do at the viewpoint. It was also really hot! In winter it would be great to bring a picnic up here during golden hour, but it was too hot for us so we went back after 5 or 10 minutes.
We then returned to the room, showered and got ready for dinner. Upon walking back through the hotel, we came across this cool little setup which mimics a traditional Arabian Tent.
Photos were of terrible quality due to me being really sick. This was just two weeks after I was properly diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. You can see by my face and body language that I was in a terrible state at the time!
Dinner was only at 7 P.M. so in the meantime we headed to the Roumoul Cocktail Bar for drinks and opted to sit on the sunset terrace to watch golden hour while waiting for our dinner reservation. It was really pretty and the drinks were good too!
At 7 we made our way across to Jeema restaurant. Being vegetarian I usually don’t opt for buffets, but I must say that the buffet did look great!
Instead I ordered (the most delicious) mushroom risotto, which I didn’t get a picture of! I swear it was so delicious I would go all the way back there just for the risotto! We had a candle lit table at the window overlooking the resort which was really nice. The service was slightly slow and we had to keep standing up to look for a waiter, but the food was great. You can contact them or check out their menu here: https://www.jaresortshotels.com/en/dubai/ja-hatta-fort-hotel/dining/jeema
Breakfast was buffet style at the Cafe Gazebo, which overlooked the swimming pool and mountain range. Once again the GM was on site and chatting to everyone. The breakfast selection was good, although Cafe Gazebo was not near as fancy and formal as Jeema.
We had planned to do some of the activities but couldn’t bear the June heat so we decided to be in our way after breakfast and finally see the Dam.
It’s best to see the dam first thing in the morning or early evenings during summer.
We, on the other hand, went around mid day, which meant we could only spend 10 minutes marveling at the blue waters before literally melting away.
On the way we drove through the beautiful town of Hatta, and when I return in the winter I would love to stop at the Hatta Heritage Village.
Yes it’s true! The water really is this blue! It’s so amazing to see such a stunning water reserve in the middle of desert mountains. The dam was built in the 1990s so that water could be supplied to the area.
All in all, it was a lovely little getaway, and I will definitely return in the Winter!