ACTIVE: The Abu Dhabi Week team hits the rapids on a wild watery adventure

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Needing a break from the bustling capital, the Abu Dhabi Week team headed to The Garden City and the expansive Wadi Adventure watersports facility to put their thrill seeker sides to the test. Here’s what to expect if you haven’t been along:

Wadi Adventure – what’s that and will I need an off-roader to get involved?

No, any old car will get you there. Wadi Adventure is a major watersports facility roughly 30 minutes drive from Al Ain and near the foot of Jebel Hafeet mountain, and also close to the Green Mubuzzarah – which is also worth a visit for the hot springs and bathhouses.

So what can you do at Wadi Adventure?

The park has activities to cater for you wherever you fall on the adrenalin tolerance spectrum. If you are more Snoopy than Superman when it comes to action sports, then you can sit back and relax in the pool area or go for a swim in the wave pool. But for everyone else, you can learn to surf in the world’s largest surf pool, kayak under the supervision of professional guides, drop in at the new wakeboarding cable park or join your team for a spot of white water rafting. To top off an action-packed day, there’s even an above-ground obstacle course to take on, assuming vertigo is no foe. Watching your friends strapped to a massive log which works as a giant pendulum as they are flung back and forth, is certainly a memorable experience. Who knew ADW’s head of design Issy could hit the high notes when she screams?!

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Wow, so where to start… What was the highlight?

Well, you can’t really beat going white water rafting in the desert! With roughly three other team members and a guide, you grab a paddle and have to follow relatively simple commands from the instructor as everyone thrashes away at the wake in an effort to keep

the boat heading downriver and team members on board. Well, I say simple, but in the heat of the moment a simple ‘get down’ command can be misinterpreted as ‘take a nose-dive overboard’. Still after a couple of rounds we are paddling and pulling in unison, and I am sure we are ready to take on the real life rapids – though maybe not the ones in that Meryl Streep action flick The River Wild.

Were there any seriously hairy moments?

The start of the kayak training is not for the faint-hearted. While at no point did I feel in danger, it’s a pretty unnerving feeling to be tipped upside down while inside a kayak and having to rip off your spray cover to make your escape. Not sure how Tom Cruise does it because, when the pressure was on, 10 seconds underwater felt like a lung-busting stretch of time. Still with that out of the way and some practice paddling, we are cajoled on to what can only be described as a giant’s treadmill on an incline and are heading ominously towards the rapids. For those who managed to make it down the rapids the right way up it is a fantastic experience. Even those who rolled, seemed to have smiles on their faces.

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So is it worth the trip all the way to Wadi Adventure?

Yes, absolutely! The setting alone is worth the trip. The unique surf pool, framed by the mountains behind, has attracted world-class surfers like Red Bull champion Sally Fitzgibbon, while the 1.2km of white water runs has played home to Olympic canoe teams training in the off-season. It is a world-class facility, which is, relatively speaking, on our doorstep and should definitely be on any UAE bucket list. You will leave with a smile on your face, as well as a slightly glazed-over expression, exhausted from all the adrenalin and action.

Booking advised. For more information, visit: wadiadventure.ae

WORDS Julian Pletts
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