x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Adjust to the Gulf rhythm to enjoy the outdoors in summer

There is no need to forsake the outdoors for the searing summer months if you learn the natural ebb and flow of activity during the season.

As the dusty winds of spring begin to fade and the full-on summer heat escalates, even the hardiest of off-roaders call it quits and stay indoors.

What a shame.

It is true that the summer heat of June in the region can be brutal, but if we align our mentality to the seasons we can still enjoy venturing outdoors and have experiences that might have otherwise escaped us.

Yes, during the searing heat of summer it is best to remain indoors but we can utilise other times of day to get out, such as at dawn, dusk and into the night.

This is how desert tribes lived in the years before electric lighting and air-conditioning defeated the cycles of nature. During the hot period of the day, you hunker down in a nice shady spot and nap; come dusk, it's up and at 'em.

As the darkness falls, on full-moon nights, if not interrupted by artificial lights, you can see very clearly - enough to cover miles on foot. And once our night-vision is established you can see a great deal in the ethereal silver moonlight. A few hours of sleep and then a burst of activity at dawn, before again settling into the shade to wait out the strong sun.

If you live by the coast, you will probably be rolling your eyes now. Yeah, right, you'll be saying, temperatures are just as hot and humid as during daytime. True, but inland the nights are fresh and the early mornings crisp, even during summer. The arid desert climate means an absence of humidity and a great difference in temperature between night and day.

Take Al Ain, for instance. In June you can expect a normal 42°C to 45°C at midday, followed by a midnight reading of under 30°C.

So as we adjust our daily routine to the reality of summer in the Middle East, our trips off-road cannot only continue unabated, but should transform into night-time adventures outdoors that we would otherwise miss. I mean, when was the last time you took a hike at midnight?

Take your children with you and let them appreciate what used to be the natural rhythm of life in this region.

Besides, June is a unique time to be out in nature - the Tropic of Cancer runs through the southern UAE, dissecting the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is one of the main circles of latitude on Earth, between the Equator and the Arctic Circle, and it marks the most northerly position where the sun is directly overhead. This occurs once a year, at the time of the summer solstice (June 21 this year) when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun to its maximum extent.

So, from short, night-time drives up to a tall dune for a cup of tea with friends, to longer walks in full moonshine and brisk, early morning hikes, summer is not necessarily a time to give up on the outdoors; it is simply a chance to adapt to the natural environment and adjust our schedule to avoid the hottest time of day.