People travel for many different reasons. Some consider it a chance to relax, while many think it’s a good means to “escape” their busy lives. Others visit foreign places for self-discovery or to cultivate interpersonal relationships.

Statistics show that many people choose Abu Dhabi as a travel destination, regardless of the goals they set out for their trips. In 2019 alone, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital welcomed roughly 11.35 million visitors – a 10.5% increase from the previous year.

If you’re planning an excursion to Abu Dhabi to enrich your life, consider these top three most popular destinations in Abu Dhabi.

1. Qasr Al Watan

The stunning and extravagant Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi

The stunning and extravagant Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi

Opened to the public in March 2019, Qasr Al Watan is the official presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates. While still serving its official purpose, the palace now welcomes hundreds of visitors to its 380,000-acre grounds almost every day and is one of the best cultural destinations in Abu Dhabi.

The Palace of the Nation’s magnificent architecture is one of the primary reasons people go there. However, the place is more than just a tourist spot. The building also serves as the venue for the Council of Ministers and Federal Supreme Council meetings, and several other historic conventions with foreign leaders.

What to See

An Abu Dhabi palace booking grants you access to some of Qasr Al Watan’s most culturally enriching areas, such as:

  • The Great Hall: This 10,000-square-meter (107,639 square-foot) space made of marble and gold is one of the best spots in the palace. The details in its design, enhanced by complex geometric textures, made The Great Hall a breathtaking scene every visitor would want to enjoy.
  • Presidential Gifts: This showcases the diplomatic gifts the UAE received in the past decades. Besides the aesthetic value of the displays, the exhibition also offers insight into the process and cultural considerations in diplomatic gift selection.
  • House of Knowledge: Located in the east wing of the presidential palace, this area holds some of the nation’s rarest artifacts, manuscripts, and books, including religious texts from the Bible and the Quran. This is also where you’ll find a collection of the ancient geographic maps of the Arabic region.
  • Qasr Al Watan Library: Home to more than 50,000 books documenting the culture and history of the country, the Qasr Al Watan Library’s goal is to share and preserve centuries-worth of Arabian knowledge. Because of this, it is considered one of the most important libraries in the UAE.

Besides what’s inside the palace, you can also get the chance to witness the Palace in Motion. This captivating nighttime show lights up the place for 15 minutes in the evening, from Thursday to Saturday.

How to Get To Qasr Al Watan

Qasr Al Watan is located in Ras al Akhdar, commonly referred to as the West Corniche.

From the main Corniche, walk to the end of the beach road. Pass the Founders Memorial, with the Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers on your right and left, respectively.

As you reach the end of the road, you’ll see a grand entrance reserved only for VIPs. Go to the smaller door on the right side of the gate where you’ll be directed to visitor parking. Present your tickets and ride a shuttle to the palace grounds.

You can visit Qasr Al Watan between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily but always check for announcements on the schedule because the place is closed when used for official business.

2. The Corniche

Walk along the Corniche and take in the skyline of Abu Dhabi

Walk along the Corniche and take in the skyline of Abu Dhabi

Considered one of the most popular destinations in Abu Dhabi, The Corniche is a road extending across eight kilometers of a carefully manicured waterfront.

Running along the northwestern coast of the UAE capital, it has various areas designated for different activities, including:

  • Cycle and pedestrian pathways
  • Children’s play areas
  • Restaurants and cafés
  • The Corniche Beach

The Corniche is an ideal destination for families and becomes quite busy during the winter months.

What to See

The Corniche is accessible to guests all day long. However, the beach is only open from 6 a.m. until sunset.

If you decide to visit the two-kilometer beach, choose the perfect spot for you among the three sections it’s divided into:

  • Gate 4: This free-entry area is most popular among individuals and larger groups.
  • Gate 2: Fenced and equipped with a quiet zone, this area is the best spot for families and children. You’ll also find changing rooms and showers here, along with cabanas, sun loungers, and umbrellas for rent.
  • Gate 3: Like Gate 2, this part of the beach is shielded from view and has access to the beach amenities mentioned earlier. It is an excellent choice for children and families and has an on-duty lifeguard until sundown.

How to get to The Corniche

You can get to The Corniche from anywhere in Abu Dhabi, but Al Bateen, Al Khalidiya, and Al Zahiyah (the tourist club area) are the nearest places to it.

On a car, input F8FR+93 Abu Dhabi on your virtual map or navigation system to get directions. You can also take a bus on the following routes:

  • 101
  • 104
  • 110
  • 120
  • 40
  • 400
  • 54
  • 63

3. The Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi with it's unique architecture

The Louvre Abu Dhabi with it’s unique architecture

The Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibits a whopping 600 artworks within its light-filled modern architecture – a true haven for art enthusiasts. The first Louvre outside France, the structure itself is designed to work in perfect harmony with the desert surroundings, making it a popular destination for Abu Dhabi travelers with an eye for beauty.

What to See

Situated in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the Louvre leaves onlookers in awe with just a glance, thanks to its unique architecture and placement.

Designed as a “museum city” by the sea, Louvre Abu Dhabi was inspired by low-lying Arab settlements and the Medina and is made more special with a modern touch.

Besides the structure itself, you’ll also find various exhibitions and galleries that can make your tour of Abu Dhabi more enriching. These are carefully curated and placed in three wings in the Louvre:

  • Wing 1: Composed of three galleries, this wing houses artwork and artifacts from early human civilizations. It is also home to some masterpieces from ancient empires in Arabia, China, and Africa.
  • Wing 2: This is where you’ll find pieces from universal religions worldwide. This wing also features various masterpieces reflecting Asian trade routes used throughout history.
  • Wing 3: Unlike the first two wings with three galleries, this area has four, each showcasing inspiring pieces from various periods, including the ancient Chinese, Napoleon, and Columbus eras. It also has several items from famous trade routes people used globally.

How to Get To The Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is open between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday. You can reach the museum through the following:

  • By car: From Dubai, take the Yas Island/ Saadiyat Island exit to Sheikh Khalifa Highway E12. Drive along Yas Highway until you reach the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, following road signs to Louvre Abu Dhabi.
  • By bus: Take the public bus bound for route 94.

Explore More Destinations in Abu Dhabi

There’s a lot of things to do in Abu Dhabi. Besides the cultural destinations mentioned here, you can also try indoor wall climbing and other adventurous activities that offer enrichment beyond a temporary escape from a busy life. Explore more and have the best vacation today in the UAE capital.

If you are serious about the idea of getting out there and making a regular hobby out of hiking and backpacking, then you will need to be prepared. While creating a packing checklist and making sure to drink plenty of water are good first steps, so is figuring out how to get in shape for hiking.

Smart fitness is necessary so you can stay safe and also enjoy your travels as you traverse the beauty of nature. To help new and experienced hikers alike, we have created this guide for the best exercises and routines to try before your big adventure. 

The Physical Benefits of Hiking

If you have a budding interest in long-distance hiking or backpacking, but you can’t quite take the plunge, then you should know that hiking can be one of the keys to a healthy body and mind. The act of being around nature is great for our mental well-being because walking through the trees and surrounding ourselves with all of that greenery brings us back to a more natural place. It is a way for us to be at peace without worrying about work or deadlines.

Of course, there should be no surprise that hiking provides many physical benefits as well. In fact, if strengthening your legs, back, glutes, and hamstrings is your goal, then hiking should become a permanent part of your fitness routine. The great thing is that you don’t always have to walk the most treacherous trails to lose weight and feel great. Even a long flat trail will help to build your endurance and keep your body in peak shape. 

The Proper Nutrition to Get in Shape for Hiking

The act of hiking regularly will also help you to practice healthy habits because failure to take care of your body will result in a poor or dangerous hike. When thinking about how to get in shape for hiking, you should think about the proper nutrition, and pay attention to what you are eating and drinking.

For instance, while drinking beer and spirits in moderation is typically okay, if you drink excessively, then the alcohol can affect your body in many dangerous ways, including stiffening your blood vessels, which leads to high blood pressure. Plus, drinking can upset the balance of calcium in your body which can lead to weaker bones. In addition to hurting you during regular activities, these ailments will severely impact your ability to hike. So, by being responsible for your backpacking hobby, you will also wake up feeling better every day.

Putting Your Legs to Work

If you are like many people, then you might not walk around as often as you know you should. However, if you plan to backpack regularly or you have a long hike coming up, then you will need to get active and get your legs back in motion. You can start easy by taking walks around the block and the neighborhood, so you get back into the rhythm.

When you are feeling good doing that, then it is time to escalate your activity by walking everywhere and aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day. By doing so, you will get used to the motions, you will build the muscles in your legs, and you’ll see what it is like to constantly be on your feet.

Even if you plan to start on moderate trails, you should still expect there to be some hills and valleys from time to time, so you will need to get your legs ready for the new challenge. If you live by a coastline, one of the best ways to get in shape for hiking is to go to the beach where you can walk through the sand. Don’t worry about not walking fast. This is all about building and strengthening all the muscles between your feet and back, including your calves and quadriceps. 

Did we mention that all of this physical activity will also help you to burn fat and excess calories? By constantly being on your feet and keeping your core engaged when you do, you can get rid of that extra weight holding you back during a hike. 

Practicing with a Pack

Once you are ready for the next step, consider buying your backpack and wearing it around during your walks to really focus on how to get in shape for hiking with the pack. When choosing the right backpack, look for one that is adjustable, has space for a water bladder pocket, and has a comfortable weight distribution.

You don’t have to fill your backpack to the brim during your practice, but by adding a bit of weight and walking up and downstairs, you will become familiar with the motions and you’ll further strengthen your back and lower body.

Exercises for Overall Conditioning

Now that you are becoming more comfortable with the motions associated with hiking and carrying weight on your back, you can start to do some more specific exercises that will target the muscles that you will use the most. Keep in mind that there are many different exercises you can try when figuring out how to get in shape for hiking. We will highlight a few here, but if you want to find more, you can do a quick internet search.

Many of the exercises to get in shape for hiking are basic and don’t require a lot of equipment. For instance, in order to strengthen your legs, hips, and lower back, you can do wall squats where you stand facing away from the wall and bend your knees as you sink into a squatting position.

To continue to work your core muscles, you can perform planks. This is where you have your knees and elbows on the floor shoulder length apart, and you slowly lift your body until it is straight. Keep this position for 15 seconds, then come down, rest for a beat, and try another. You can also strengthen your core by doing standard crunches and sit-ups. 

Finally, consider doing a few sets of arm curl reps every other day with light free weights, so you can further manage a heavy load during your trip.

As you can see, there are many exercises and tactics that you can start today in order to be ready for your next big backpacking trip. Continue to work out even after your hike concludes, and you’ll feel healthier every day.

Going abroad requires some amount of prep, even beyond deciding where you’re going or what you intend to do. There are world events and politics to consider, cultural norms, and crime rates to all think about before you board a plane. And that’s all before you consider your disability. 

We’re not about to tell you to not go it alone. We’re all striving for as independent a life as possible, so if you feel like you need someone nearby or not is up to you. Instead, we’re looking at practical things you can do to make backpacking with a disability easier, and less likely to end badly. 

Understand your limitations

Your limitations aren’t something to be ignored or tiptoed around, but something you simply have to adapt to. 

If you are newly disabled, rather than having grown up with a disability, this might be harder to address. You will have to look at your situation and think of ways you can get around the sometimes physical obstacles you are facing. Maybe backpacking in the traditional sense isn’t for you. Can you take a train tour instead? Travel by cycling with handbike, or drive? Try the van-lifestyle for a trip? The literal walking for miles with your thumb out is a small piece of a bigger picture of backpacking. Maybe the limitations of that situation can be worked around by other common means of traveling. 

Learn adaptive hiking

If you are determined you are walking, understand that the idea might not be as easy as it seems. This article outlines a paralympic swimmer having to face the fact that hiking with a lower-knee amputation was harder than he realized, and in fact, he had to adapt to hiking. You will need to adapt literally how you hike, how long you hike for, and where you hike. This might take some experimentation and will vary depending on the disability you are dealing with, but some basics include building up your stamina and energy and stick to paved trails.

Make sure you’re insured

The exciting but also risky factor of all this is that you’re likely to be abroad, with different sets of rules on who can be treated and what the literal cost of that is. 

And unfortunately, the fact is there is more of a risk for you abroad. Make sure you have travel insurance in place to avoid any nasty bills when you head back home. Staysure is a travel insurance company that not only covers the hospital bills and lost baggage and cash, but also cancellation of your flights, even due to Covid. 

It’s a good safety net to hand, should the unthinkable happen, and while we’re on the subject…

Be prepared for the worst

The advice here will depend on your disability, but just make sure you’re ready for any eventuality. 

There are, of course, invisible disabilities and so it won’t be so obvious to a passing fellow backpacker that you’re in need of help – or how to help you. 

If you need a shot, keep it in a pocket. Somewhere you would usually keep a wallet, for the same reason: to keep it close and easy to access. Perhaps consider taking a bracelet a step further and leave some instructions on a business card in your pocket with your shot, so that anyone trying to help you can quickly figure out what’s happening and what they can do about it. 

Look into the local hospitals of your destinations and see if they are able and equipped to deal with your particular disability while backpacking and consider staying at an Airbnb for a more personable experience where you can explain your situation. 

There are so many reasons why someone would choose to travel solo, it could be work, it could be a need for some “alone time,” or just desire to experience different cities on your own. Traveling solo gives a different vibe from group traveling, one of life’s most inspiring adventures that bring in a renewed passion to understand the world around you.

Traveling solo is an act of self-indulgence, a feeling of complete freedom to go just anywhere and do what you would love to. It empowers a traveler, helps build confidence, and helps you get more connected with the traveler within you.

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Uganda is one of the best destinations for solo travelers, from hiking to volunteering to safaris, the country boasts of some of the most spectacular wildlife and natural landscapes in Africa and the world at large. Traveling alone in Africa can be daunting, especially with the number of misconceptions about this great continent, but in recent years many have done it, so why don’t you try it too?

Uganda is safe; the people here are friendly and ready to help but still, precaution needs to be taken when traveling solo around Uganda, below are some tips.

Speak the Language

The majority of Ugandans are literate and can understand the Queen’s language, English, which is the official language. If you’re not a native English speaker, it would be great to brush up and learn some common phrases to help you out when the need arises.

Managing your Cash 

Always carry just enough cash with you when moving around, a lot of cash attracts thieves easily. Be mindful that ATMs and forex shops are not always available everywhere, so it would be a great move if you keep yourself loaded with some local currency all the time.

Don’t Carry Valuables with You

While traveling solo in Uganda is generally safe, it might turn into a nightmare if you had your lovely watch or necklace stolen amidst traffic. Always keep a copy of your passport and visa backed up on email, leave valuables and jewelry at home if possible, and keep your valuables in a safe place. A travel waist bag could be of help.

Dress Appropriately

Pack light loose clothes in fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen that are easily washed and worn again, it is always good to have an easy-to-carry backpack. Ladies should try not to wear clothes that are too revealing, especially in rural areas, as most people are conservative. 

Bring the Essentials With You

The big cities may have stuff available but if you’re looking forward to experiencing the rural bit of Uganda; then having enough sunscreen, insect repellant with deet, any essential medicines, a travel first aid kit among others. This is because you never know how far you will have to travel to buy any of these.

Plan your Accommodation

Always plan your accommodation in advance. Depending on where you will be staying or visiting, the most disappointing thing is arriving in the locality, and you don’t even know where you will lay your head. It would be good if your first-stop accommodation is booked in advance such that you base from there to plan your next move. Also, always have the location of the hotel you are staying at on your phone. You can find accommodation from guest houses, hostels, or hotels on, where you can also filter by guest reviews and budget.

Understand How to Travel Around

Local means of transport are cheap to travel solo in Uganda, especially for those on budget. Before you travel using either taxi or boda-boda, make research about the charges to the destination. If you are to use a bus, make sure you make payments in the bookings office of the recommended or preferred bus company, also first get the receipt before handing over your money as it’s common practice to be ripped off by another company. Also, never leave your luggage unattended.

Go with the Flow

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

To have the best experiences comes with flexibility and going with the flow. Uganda is the same too, the more flexible and spontaneity you are, the more you enjoy the country, and also it’s an opportunity for you to try those out of the box/guidebook ideas that locals may recommend because, at the end of the trip, it’s the experiences and memories that matter.

Usually, solo travelers in Uganda are never alone for the entire trip/ tour, they always meet like-minded people, locals or not to join them at one point in time in their pursuit of adventure. As a solo traveler, Uganda should not miss out on your travel bucket list.

Meditation has been tagged with some interesting stereotypes over the years. Many people think you have to be in a dark, quiet room with your legs crossed and eyes closed, doing some kind of “ohm” chant to meditate properly.

That’s just not true.

Meditation can take many forms – including hiking and backpacking. If those are hobbies you already love, it’s time to consider how they can help you feel re-centered and reduce your stress levels while you’re on the trail.

Many spiritual leaders have touted the effectiveness of walking meditation, and you can apply those principles to your hikes by being more mindful on each journey. If you’ve never meditated before, it can take some practice to connect physical activity to a clearing of the mind. But, hiking is already a great way to improve your mental and physical health. Adding meditation to your walks can help you feel more connected with the earth, and yourself.

Let’s cover some of the benefits of hiking as meditation and how you can set clear intentions for your treks.

The Benefits of a Mindful Hike

There’s no question that simply spending time in nature is good for your health. It reduces stress and anxiety and can offer a boost of energy. Taking things one step further (no pun intended) through walking meditation can offer even greater benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Some of the “perks” you can expect from being more mindful on your hikes include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved circulation
  • Better sleep quality
  • Enhanced balance

Walking meditation also helps with symptoms of depression and anxiety and can boost your creativity levels if it feels like you’ve been in a slump lately. Combining mindfulness with regular outdoor exercise, like hiking, is also a fantastic way to naturally boost testosterone levels (which can decrease with age). That will lead to a clearer mind and greater physical awareness while also promoting strength and vitality.

How to Meditate On the Trail

Ready to give hiking as meditation a try for yourself?

Again, you don’t have to worry about specific chants or keeping your eyes closed while you walk – that would probably do more harm than good with trees around! Walking meditation is easier than you might think. Try the following steps to break down the process until it becomes more familiar.

  1. Find a spot on the trail or a clearing in a wooded area that will allow you to freely walk back and forth about 10 to 15 feet.
  2. Stroll throughout that area slowly as you breathe deeply and take in your surroundings.
  3. Take slow, intentional, mindful steps, and focus on sensations that you usually don’t notice. That could include how your feet and legs feel while moving, or the rhythm of your breathing. It could even include the gentle “thud” your feet make with each step. The more you focus on yourself and the world around you at that moment, the more mindful and present you’ll be.

You may have other thoughts come to mind. That’s out of your control, and you don’t have to work to “block” those thoughts out. There’s nothing you can do to prevent both positive and negative ideas from entering your mind, but think of them like clouds passing by. Don’t hold onto them, and do your best to refocus on the present.

You can continue to be mindful throughout your hike, paying attention to how your body feels with each step forward while also observing the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. It’s a wonderful way to manage your anxiety while hiking and to feel more relaxed by the time you’re finished.

Staying Safe

While meditating on a hike is a wonderful way to feel more connected with the earth and your natural surroundings, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew. If you’re new to hiking, familiarize yourself with certain trails and build up your strength and stamina before you try to meditate on your journey. You’ll still enjoy wonderful mental and physical health benefits, simply by exercising in nature.

Additionally, if you deal with chronic pain or you’re trying to recover from an injury, use a pain scale to determine if you’re ready to be active again. Pushing through the pain or trying to force yourself to get back on the trail can end up hindering your performance. You’ll also be so focused on that pain that it will be nearly impossible to be mindful and present.

Whether you’re just getting into hiking or you’ve been hitting the trail for years, there are more benefits than we could ever think to list here. Using hiking as meditation, however, adds to that list and can help you feel more in tune with the world around you while reducing your stress levels. If you’re ready for that step, try to introduce walking meditation into your next hike.