Ras Al Khaimah boasts diverse landscapes from white sandy beaches, jagged mountain ranges, mangroves and verdant parks for you and…
The Jebel Jais is an extraordinary destination. At first view, it would appear barren, bleak and inhospitable, but the more you explore its history, the more fascinating and full of life it becomes. The Hajar Mountain range is one of the most impressive destinations on the Arabian Peninsula and spans from Ras Al Khaimah on the eastern side of the United Arab Emirates to the Musandam Peninsula on the northeastern side of Oman. It is 100 kilometres wide and 700 kilometres long. The continental collision near the Arabian–Eurasian convergent plate boundary shaped the mountains more than 70 million years ago, forming the highest peak in the UAE, 1,934 metres above sea level.
In the late Cretaceous period, between 145.5 million years to 66 million years ago, there was movement from volcanic action in part of the Tethys Sea that was once part of Arabia. The submarine volcanoes pushed dark, crustal magma over the Arabian landmass, which with the rocks from below, created a sequence called ophiolite rocks, the primary type of rock in the Hajar mountains. Interestingly, ophiolites give geologists a rare glimpse of the Earth’s crust; the Hajar mountains have the most extensive ophiolites globally and are one of the few places on Earth where scientists can study these oceanic rocks on land.
The Jebel Jais Mountains are a collection of formidable and challenging peaks that attract visitors from around the world. The massive band of jagged mountains is indiscreet and packed with exciting history, forts, traditional Bedouin and shepherd communities, and rare flora and fauna. The mountains are also home to gulleys and wadis that provide exciting camping, hiking and mountain biking adventures. A well-laid road takes you through a dizzying array of hairpin bends and glorious viewpoints for photographs, Bear Grylls Explorers Camp for the brave-hearted and the longest zipline in the world.
Ras Al Khaimah has an exciting array of nutrient-rich landscapes. Sandy deserts, coastal plains, salt flats, mangroves, mountains and date orchards make it an extraordinary destination for nature lovers. Mountain and desert plants only flourish after the rare rains. The Emirate is also home to numerous reptiles, camels, foxes, jerboas or wildcats and hundreds of bird species. The temperatures in the peaks of the mountains are known to have dropped to minus five degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). Rare snowfall brings the locals out for snowball fights in their hordes.
An impressive collection of diverse plants have adapted to the climate of Ras Al Khaimah. The desert vegetation is mainly shrubs, trees and bushes. The most well-known trees are ghaf and acacia trees. After the winter rains, desert ephemerals, hyacinths, and thumbs turn into a mass sea of colourful blossoms. The same phenomenon happens in the mountains after the rains; purple lilies, wild irises and white daisies paint the rugged mountains in glorious fleeting colour. The wadi-grown sidr tree is known and still used for medical purposes. Its pollen attracts the bees for the rarest and finest mountain honey.
Fadi Hachicho, the founder of Adventurati Outdoor Ras Al Khaimah, is a passionate certified guide and mountaineer from the leading school of mountaineering, ice climbing, and rock climbing in Alaska. His Adventurati team has been exploring the mountains and their remote communities and discovering rare plants, mammals, birds and other mountain-dwelling nature. Through dialogue and many years of building trust with shy Indigenous tribes, Fadi is slowly bringing some inimitable and fragile experiences to a limited number of visitors coming to Ras Al Khaimah. He introduces over 100 kilometres of breathtaking world-class hiking to the mountains. Walkers and hikers can enjoy overnight homestays in simple lodges owned by shepherds or Bedouins. His guided tours show the utmost respect for the environment and the unique mountain culture. Fadi works closely with local families and inspires them to share their unique lifestyles with interested travellers. The Adventurati programme sensitively protects their heritage and provides for the future generations of mountain people.
Adventurati understands the fragile microclimate of the nomadic community and has encouraged them to share unique insights into how they live, raise livestock, grow crops, nurture honeybee colonies, practise medicine and eat. Exploratory hikers can have lunch prepared by Bedouin or shepherd families; it’s a unique experience that is fiercely protected and respected.
Visitors can hike through the complex network of trails which make up varying routes, so no matter how many times a trail is walked, it appears different. Adventurati has cleverly developed each trail so that walkers of different levels can efficiently complete a route. Hikers can access various points within the mountains and walk down pathways passing through old settlements and hidden oases.
The Highlander Trail is one of the most challenging trails in the United Arab Emirates, boasting steep elevation gains from 150 metres to 1,800 metres above sea level. World-class hikers increasingly describe it as one of the most beautiful hikes globally with its unique landscapes, views across Oman and the United Arab Emirates, over flourishing date farms and down to the mangroves and the shores of the Arabian Gulf. Upon completion of the trails, visitors can weave their own routes from the labyrinth of trails and choose elevation gain, elevation loss, length, difficulty, steepness and type of terrain.
The Adventurati concept is strictly sustainable and protects the privacy and heritage of the mountain tribes. Whether visitors seek a short afternoon walk or a serious multi-day hike, Adventurati has various support systems for assistance with mountaineering gear, food preparation, and accommodation on local farms. Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority only grants permission to fully licensed tour operators to ensure hiking tourism is positive in terms of experience and sustainability.
Hikers that seek basecamp experiences, as well as the mountain trails, can swim with a caravan of racing camels from the shores just off Marjan Island. It’s well known that camels are encouraged to swim to strengthen their muscles and maintain their skin.
Hiking the Jebel Jais mountains is like no other experience in the region, if not the world. The sensitivity of creating these extraordinary trails is a testament to the Emirati’s respect for the nature surrounding them and the guardedness of their tribal fathers.