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As we returned to the cars after completing a lap of the canyons at Hatta Pools, there was a look of disbelief.

Glances of confirmation were exchanged as the realisation dawned that with a combination of clothes still wet from the final pool and the steady breeze blowing down the wadi, we were actually… chilly.

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For any sandpit dweller in midsummer, this is a state that would seem impossible outside the aircon, and especially since it had been 49degC as we left Abu Dhabi. But over two weekends, we inducted another 60 people into the club of those who know it’s possible to be outside and not just survive but actually enjoy it.

This video of Fadi’s really captures why this is my favourite day trip in the region:

This was actually supposed to be one weekend, the Alpine Club’s annual wild wadis trip.

But then I promised a dive buddy I’d bring them along and completely forgot so arranged to repeat the trip on the following weekend. This was not a bad thing: the first weekend attracted 25 canyoners but the next, thanks to listing it on the UAE Weekend Lovers’ meetup, saw 37 driving to Hatta.

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This report is a mix of both trips.

The upper canyon is easy and fun. You wander up from the main pools on the eastern side of the wadi for about 5-10 minutes until you can drop into the canyon then head back.

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There are a couple of drop-offs but they are all easy.

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And the water temperature was perfect.

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After a couple of constrictions, we reached the top of the main pool, which involved a 100m swim down to the gravel beach where on the average Friday a couple of dozen locals and labourers gather to swim.

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In Ramadan, there was not a soul to be seen and we had the place to ourselves.

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The lower canyon was billed as being “more sporting” and the enjoyment factor was in correlation with the added challenge.

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It helped that the most intimidating part was right at the start: a 3m jump into a pool.

This pool:

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Some showed no hesitation…

And others…

(Props to Kertu: she made the jump after a bit more prevarication)

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Those who had already made the jump were happy to offer advice to those above.

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There were a few more dropoffs.

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Both nothing challenging, until we reached the cave.

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It was possible to go over the rock pile and beyond. But there was also an improbable route at water level on the right hand side that went under the boulders.

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This was the subject of open disbelief by some of those for whom this was their first Hatta Pools canyoning trip.

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But it was fine.

Then there was a final swim-through to the outside world.

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The final pool was deep!

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And then we emerged onto a gravel bank, hiked down the wadi until we could scramble up the walls and then trekked back to the cars.

Epic weekends! And the perfect foil to those who bleat that there’s nothing to do outside the aircon in midsummer in the UAE.

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