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9 Nearby Destinations To Explore This Long Weekend

While the women in your life may often vacation together, how many times have you traveled with just your mates? If you can count your answer on one hand (or even both), it’s high time to book that getaway and enjoy some long-overdue bonding time with the guys in your life—not to mention the long weekend coming up in the UAE makes it the ideal opportunity to do so. From adventurous thrills to cultural excursions, explore our recommendations of the best nearby destinations for you and your buds:


Nothing brings people closer than sleeping side-by-side in a tent. But in Hatta, campers can choose from bring-your-own-tent campsites equipped with barbecue areas and nearby food trucks, the region’s first “trailer hotel” featuring lux—and often sold-out—caravans perfect for those who prefer to keep the roughing out to a minimum, or a room at the Damani Lodges Resort with access to modern-day comforts. Bigger groups can opt to stay at one of the four quaint farmhouse varieties featuring multiple bedrooms, backyard pools, and picturesque views. A true eco-tourism hub, adventurers can kayak the crystal-clear waters of the Hatta Dam, mountain bike through levels of cross-country routes weaving across the rocky terrain, or hike scenic trails traversing the expansive national park. 


Escape into the wild at one of the most widely acclaimed African safari destinations: Maasai Mara National Reserve. Boasting various opportunities to not only see the Big Five—lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinoceroses—throughout the country’s open grasslands but also the coveted annual wildebeest migration, the Maasai Mara is often considered the “jewel of wildlife viewing areas” in the continent’s many animal habitats. Take a visit to nearby villages for the chance to see the Masai Jumping Dance, a tradition performed by warriors decorated with beaded jewelry singing and jumping as high as possible. Just don’t forget your camera. And your bounciest footwear.   


No matter where your journey takes you in India, you’re in for an unparalleled treat. Whether it’s palaces of Jaipur, river cruises of Kerala, temples of Amritsar, or beaches of Goa, each part of the country promises a unique experience only a few hours away. Yet, India’s hidden gems are their tiger reserves. Head to Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s largest national parks, to explore the home of the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger and other mammals, including leopards and jungle cats, which can often be found at the ancient ruins scattered throughout the sanctuary. Just don’t go too Indiana Jones and release giant rampant boulders.   


Unlike its other Middle Eastern counterparts, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea scuba diving sites are widely unexplored, providing abundant almost-untouched wonders to explore under the sea. From shipwrecks in Jeddah crawling with manta rays to a hammerhead shark abode near Yanbu, each dive along the Kingdom’s coastline offers stunning visibility, hundreds of marine species, and stretches of multi-colored coral reefs. Plus, water temperatures in December are ideal. Hurry though—with Saudi Arabia opening its borders and implementing E-visas, these scuba hotspots won’t remain a secret for long. 

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Sri Lanka has plenty of surfing locations to discover, from the nightlife-centric Hikkaduwa to the more laid-back Arugam Bay. For a mix of both vibes, Weligama is renowned for its sandy beaches and all-year-round waves. Whether you’re a professional-level surfer or have never picked up a board in your life, all three towns have varying levels of breaks to ride and plenty of fellow surfers to help you if (or when) you wipeout.


Even though the long-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum has yet to open its doors and is not expected to do so until 2020, there are still plenty of artifacts and archeological treasures for history buffs to enjoy in the ancient city of Luxor. Journey to the Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens for a look inside the tombs of thousands of Egypt’s pharaohs before visiting the nearby Karnak Temple, the largest temple in the country and one of the largest in the world. Stay until evening for a mesmerizing sunset and sound-and-light show. Say hi to King Tutankhamun for us.


Famed for its magical hot air balloon voyages drifting over underground cave cities, towering rock formations, and other geological marvels, Cappadocia is a must-see on any Turkish itinerary. For those who prefer expeditions via land, horseback tours over the hills and valleys of Göreme National Park give riders an intimate glimpse into the “Land of Beautiful Horses” while still adding a sense of thrill. 


There is far more to Nepal than just the legendary Mount Everest, especially if you only have a few days to trek the Himalayan mountains. Take your trip to new heights with panoramic snowy mountain-top vistas and meditative experiences at one of the Buddhist or Hindu pilgrimage sites dotting the landscape. Keep in mind: A short trail doesn’t mean an easy trail. 

9. UAE

Adrenaline-seeking thrillists don’t have to go far from home to pursue their Fast & Furious dreams. Hold on tight while you zoom atop Abu Dhabi on the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World, race around the Formula One track of Yas Marina Circuit in an envy-inducing speedster, or bash soaring red-sand dunes in the surrounding desert landscape via a quad bike. Warning: These experiences are not for the faint-hearted.

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