Date 09 Jan 2022

It is well known that hiking is good for you and your family. Not only does hiking get your heart pumping, but it also works all of your muscles and gives you a mini digital detox. Hiking is a wonderfully healthy hobby you can pursue as a family. Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost Emirate of the UAE and boasts a whole host of breathtaking landscapes for you to explore. The landscape is diverse and laced with various trails suitable for all fitness levels. Hiking in Ras Al Khaimah  allows you and the kids to explore different environments and ecosystems, discover date farms, dried-up wadis, ancient forts, climb dunes and even walk along ancient mountain tracks. Each environment allows you to educate your children in a fun and exciting way. 

What do you need to get started?

First of all, you’ll need the appropriate clothing such as hiking boots or sturdy footwear if you are embarking on this new hobby. A backpack, snacks, and lots of water are all you need to get started. Have a look at some safety tips and tasks you should consider before you leave home.

Where to go?

Consider your littlest or oldest person and make sure that they can walk the entire trail. If you are unsure of their stamina, start with a gentle walk. Consider taking an identification book, map and binoculars to keep children entertained and engaged.

Saraya Island Beach

The coastline is breathtaking. One of the northernmost shorelines is in Al Rams, which, at the turn of the 19th century, was home to over 4,000 members of the Tanaij tribe. Many of their original homes are still standing and prime examples of construction with local acacia wood and coral blocks. Saraya Island is rather unique. There are few places in the world where you’ll find reflections of 70-million-year-old mountains in calm seas, beautiful expanses of beaches and on rare occasions, a pink lake. Hike around the stone spits that separate over 20 beaches along this coastline that meanders its way to Oman. Saraya Island is an excellent introduction to hiking at only 1.6 kilometres. If you want to walk further, you can also pay homage to the pearl divers and explore the bustling fishing community.

The Wadis and Dhayah Fort

Still in the north of Ras Al Khaimah is Dhayah Fort, a castle-like spectacle that appears on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The fort stands proud above the fertile date wadis with spectacular views over the lush oasis and verdant lands that lead to neighbouring Oman and the Arabian Gulf. Dhayah Fort is the only hill fort remaining in the United Arab Emirates. It dates back to the Late Bronze Age (1600 – 1300 BC) when locals used it for settlement and fortification. It’s worth climbing the zigzagging steps to bear witness to the spectacular views. It’s a gorgeous early morning or afternoon walk when the temperatures are slightly lower. 

Jazirah Al Hamra Village and Beach 

This beach is a gorgeous juxtaposition of ancient history and modern luxury. Wander along the expansive coastline and explore the abandoned Jazirah Al Hamra pearl fishing village built in the 1600s from coral blocks, fossilised beach rock and mangrove tree beams. Explore the narrow alleyways, old souq and the 20-domed mosque. If you are lucky, you might bear witness to tens of thousands of great cormorants and other birds that use Ras Al Khaimah as a stop-off point from the cold Baltic seas to North Africa on their annual migration. At the Al Hamra Marina, jump on the ferry to the golf club and continue your hike along the beach. Why not stop for a lavish afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria before heading home?

Jebel Jais Mountain Range

Ras Al Khaimah is known for the Jebel Jais Mountain range. The mountains were formed over 70 million years ago and are bursting with secrets, skittish mountain goats, the occasional silently soaring eagle and arbitrary chatty donkeys. The rugged mountains boast moonscape-barren landscapes, deep chasms and rugged bluffs with endless photographic opportunities. Various designated mountain trails are suited to walkers of all experience levels. Six trails have a cumulative distance of 16 kilometres, each with its own challenges through the diverse mountain ecosystem. The hiking trails are throughout the upper and lower segments of the mountains.

Not only can you hike Jebel Jais, but close to the summit is the ultimate viewing deck that affords breathtaking views across more of the mountains, rolling desert-scapes and finally, the Arabian Gulf. Families that seek adventure can include the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata in their hike plan and scramble over rocks, climb ladders and connect to ledges by gravity-defying zip wires.

Whilst you are in the mountains, the Jais Flight should be on your bucket list of exciting things to do in the UAE. The world’s longest zip-line covers almost 3 kilometres for three minutes at breakneck speeds. The Jais Flight gives you adrenaline-induced thrills as you fly up to 150 kilometres per hour over the vast spiny mountains and gaping caverns 1680 metres above sea level.

If you want to take your family’s skills to another level, why not join the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp and learn some essential survival skills? You can learn what to do if you get lost in the mountains, prepare a fire from scratch and build a shelter in the wild. You can practice some of the same techniques used by Bear on the acclaimed television show ‘Man vs Wild’. 

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