Al Qudra Lake - How to plan the best city escape

Blog written on 19-05-2022

Where do you go when you want to get away from the city, and in touch with nature? Well, Al Qudra Lake is an option that's not too far away and is easily accessible! They are man-made lakes in the middle of the desert, that are home to a variety of birds and animals. They offer a relaxing, peaceful and cost-effective city escape. The cyclists will be pleased to know that there is an 86km cycling track out in Al Qudra, and cars or pedestrians are not allowed on the track!

How to get to Al Qudra Lake

You will need your own car to get there. It is clearly marked in google maps so you won't get lost if you use that location. There are no taxis out there, so if you need to, make arrangements with a driver. You'll need someone who is willing to wait while you take a walk around and have a picnic etc.

The last spot to pick up supplies

When you reach the end of Al Qudra road, you will arrive at what is known the Last Exit. It is a Meraas-owned property, and it houses a filling station, 2 small supermarkets, a cycling store and food caravans. You'll also find a restaurant here should you fancy sitting down for a meal. If you are going cycling, Trek Bicycle store is where you'll get all things bike-related. If you need to rent a bike, you need to book it in advance because there are only so many bikes, and it is quite a popular track. For your camping supplies, I wouldn't bank on doing any last minute shopping here. The two supermarkets are very small, and only have the basics.

The best type of car to drive for the visit

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While the road leading to the lakes is all tarred, the road within the lakes itself is gravel and sand. If you have a really low car, like a mini or a sports car, it might not be a good idea to take it to Al Qudra. A 4x4 is obviously best, but even a FWD SUV will do. You need to be careful not to get stuck in the sand though, because then you'll see why they recommend a 4x4! Furthermore, if you're camping, you can take a small trailer. But be cognisant of the fact that you can't park it where you please. There are designated areas for trailers and the signage will help you locate the one most ideal for your trailer.

Finding parking at Al Qudra Lake

There are bird viewing platforms that people climb to... you guessed it, watch the birds! Definitely best to go up at sunrise or sunset! You can park your car here. Alternatively, when you head to the Flamingo lakes, there are some spaces carved out for you to park your car, without blocking the traffic. When you head over to the Love Lakes, there are two designated parking areas. They're clearly marked and there is plenty of space.

Where to find the toilets

At each parking entrance of the Love Lakes, you will find the toilets. Remember how to get here because there are no toilets inside! I didn't find any toilets when I went around Al Qudra Lake. But it's a big place, and I wasn't actively looking for one, so I might have missed them. But you'll definitely find them at the Love Lakes parking entrance.

How to choose a camping spot

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The rule of thumb is, if there's sand, you can pitch your tent! However, this applies inside the Love Lakes. Around the Al Qudra Lake, you need to follow the signs for designated camping areas. You need to ensure you have packed everything you need for the camping trip, because there won't be anywhere to buy supplies beyond the Last Exit I mentioned earlier. Fun fact: there is no limit to how long you can stay at the camping sites. So in theory, you can stay all week! I'm just not sure if that's what you want to do though, but each to their own.

Barbecuing at the lakes

Whether it's a day visit of a multi-day camping trip, barbecuing should definitely be on the agenda. There are some pre-built pits that you can use for your barbecue. You obviously need to bring everything else! Alternatively, you can bring your own stand. Just make sure you are not starting any fires on the sand. The signage clearly indicates what's allowed and what isn't. The ideal scenario is to use their pits, but there are only so many pits. So unless you're going to be there super early, it might be a good idea to have your own stand just in case.

Find the best spot for a picnic at Al Qudra Lake

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There are a few spots you can choose from for a picnic. One thing to note is, there are no covered spaces at Al Qudra lake. Even at the Love Lake, you will not find a place. There are some gazebos by the pits that offer a bit of shade, but otherwise, you need to have wide hats, and maybe a portable gazebo if you own one. There are sections with grass, but the sand is where you'll be. So plan accordingly.

Increase your chances of spotting wildlife

You can certainly spot a lot of birdlife and wildlife at Al Qudra Lake. There are places like the Flamingo lake, where you can see most of the birdlife and fish. You can also see some antelope in the Al Qudra desert, like the Arabian Onyx and Gazelles. I didn't see any, and quite frankly, I was not patient enough to go out looking for them. But the couple I met had spent some time in the desert and saw a family of the Arabian Onyx. Lesson learnt, wander to the desert from the lakes, and voila, antelope!

Get the best pictures of your visit

The best lighting is always at sunrise or sunset. So if you're looking to get the best pictures, this is the best time to go. Depending on how you feel about an early morning, you might just want to go late in the afternoon for sunrise. But good luck getting out of the lakes in the dark, especially if you get stuck in the sand! Again, if a quick drive to get away from the city is what you're after, then this is the place to go. Remember to follow us on Instagram to stay updated on our adventures.

Ashleigh (Tingu Travel Founder)

I’m a travel curator who has visited over 30 countries and is currently based in Dubai. For more of Tingu Travel’s experiences, you can follow us on Instagram and Tik Tok @tingutravel