Escape the desert for these beautiful green adventures

As much as we revel in the chance to take a trip to the UAE’s beaches whenever we want or escape to the iconic desert landscape, it is at this time of year, with the heat and the humidity, that we also admit to a yearning for a little more greenery.

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Laurence of Arabia may have famously said he is attracted to the desert because ‘it’s clean’ but if you’re feeling a little bit more ‘Jumanji’ than ‘Dune’ and need to get your fill of luscious landscapes, here are five great green escapes taking off from the UAE.

Rishikesh, India

Immerse yourself in the view of a magnificent mountain range and the river Ganges flowing through the city of Rishikesh, known to be the yoga capital of the world. You can also channel your inner peace in the forest bordering the city. To get to this special spot take a three-hour flight to New Delhi and then a six-hour train ride will see you reach the city. Tickets start at AED 669 flying with Etihad. Visit: etihad.com, bit.ly/2ubLkkA

Salalah, Oman

Getting your fill of lush greenery doesn’t have to mean a long trip. Enjoy cooler climes during monsoon season in Oman’s second largest city. Visit the coast or grab your trekking gear to bask near the cool waters of Wadi Darbat, which is a must-see. With magnificent waterfalls and streams, this green paradise is under two hours away from Abu Dhabi by air. Tickets start at AED 450 with Rotana Jet. Visit: rotanajet.com, tourismoman.com.au

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Seriously change it up with a view of one of the greatest waterfalls in Africa, just 35km south from Bahir Dar. The Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis-Issat, ‘smoky water’, is estimated to be between 37m to 45m high and 400m wide. With captivating scenery and rich vegetation, your internal green-ometer will be overflowing for weeks. This destination is a ten-hour connecting flight from Dubai International Airport. Tickets start at AED 1,135 with Ethiopian Airlines. Visit: ethiopianairlines.com, ethiopia.travel

Jermuk, Armenia

Located high in the mountains, it’s no wonder Jermuk is viewed by some as paradise on Earth. At the foot of 3,000m-high mountains and a river flowing through the city, Jermuk is a beautiful study in green. There is the grand waterfall, which locals refer to as ‘mermaid’s hair’ and the Gallery of Waters, believed to have different water properties, used for the treatment of various diseases. To reach this hidden gem, take a three-hour flight to the capital, Yerevan, then a three-hour drive to Jermuk. Tickets start at AED 1,130 with Air Arabia. Visit: airarabia.com, armenia.travel

Muzaffarabad, Pakistan

Enjoy surroundings filled with verdant forests, shimmering springs, lovely lakes and towering mountains. The Neelum valley is just North of Muzaffarabad, offering you mind-blowing scenic beauty and panoramic views. Trade the UAE mountains of sand for mountains of greenery in just a total of six hours by first flying to Islamabad in three hours and then continuing the journey by car for another three hours. Tickets start at AED 1,230 with Pakistan International Airlines. Visit: piac.com.pk, ajktourism.gov.pk

WORDS Mariem Yassiri
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