In the heart of the United Arab Emirates, away from the bustling streets of metropolitan cities, Ras Al Khaimah unfolds…
With winter just around the corner, our essential guide provides you with all the information you need to know to safely plan your next mountain hike
Getting to the mountains
Whether you are driving yourself, or travelling by taxi or Careem, the only way to get to the mountains is by road. Thankfully, the highway leading to Jebel Jais ranks among the greatest driving roads on the planet, providing breathtaking views of the Hajar Mountains. Across almost 30 kilometres of switchbacks, the road climbs a remarkable 1,484 metres above sea level, with various viewing platforms along the way. Once you’ve reached Jebel Jais, you’ll discover adrenalin-pumping attractions including Jais Flight – the world’s longest zipline – the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp and the Jais Sledder. If you are feeling peckish before or after your hike, why not head to 1484 by Puro – the UAE’s highest restaurant situated 1,484 metres above sea level – and enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the incredible views over the canyons and valley below. For a quick refreshment or snack, drop into Muse Café and enjoy a GoldBox Roastery single-origin coffee or dip into the food truck’s extensive menu of healthy choices, ranging from traditional Middle Eastern delights to savoury bites, sandwiches and salads.
Regardless of whether you are a novice or highly experienced hiker, it pays to know your route before you set off on a mountain adventure. Thankfully, Jebel Jais is home to more than 100 kilometres of sustainable hiking trails, ranging from easy one-hour treks to challenging multi-day adventures. There are a number of community-based online hiking guides, such as AllTrails, which provide detailed maps and route guidance for some of the most popular trails in Ras Al Khaimah. Definitely worth checking out before you set off.
In case of mishaps, be sure to pack a first-aid kit containing essential items including sterile bandages, antiseptic wipes and ointment, ibuprofen for pain relief, antihistamine for allergic reactions and insect repellent. Ensure you take adequate hydration for the length of your hike and wear appropriate clothing. Remember, temperatures are fresher year-round in the mountains and can plummet to single figures in the winter months, while the wind chill can feel many degrees colder. Also, take enough snacks including energy bars to keep you fuelled throughout the hike.
Check the weather
As mentioned, while weather conditions will likely be pleasant, conditions in the mountains can change quickly and without warning, as seen by the unusual and heavy snowfalls that have occurred in January in recent years. Depending on the time of year you visit, ensure that you take the proper clothing to protect you. Bring plenty of layers and a warm hat during the winter months. Wear a hat to shade you from the sun and plenty of sun cream as UV levels typically remain high all year round.
Protect the environment
The Hajar Mountains remain pristine wilderness, largely untouched by man for millennia. As such, we take great pride in protecting and nurturing the area’s biodiversity and expect visitors to do the same. Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and its licensed partners Adventurati Outdoor, Challenging Adventure, Beyond Action and Adventure Quest strive to ensure a safe environment for all visitors and strongly encourage them to abide by the following rules: Do not carry any prohibited items; Do not disturb the environment; Do not interact with animals or wildlife; visitors must help preserve the area of natural beauty, so do not litter; Do not pick any plants or flowers; Do not trespass on private land or farms; and finally, do not consume alcohol, listen to loud music or fly drones in the mountains.
Book a mountain experience
Bear Grylls Explorers Camp
Developed by the world-famous adventurer and survival expert Bear Grylls, this remarkable camp specialises in helping hikers develop their skills and stay safe no matter what mother nature throws at them. Bear’s team of highly trained experts oversee a variety of survival courses that teach participants how to contend with the most extreme conditions. Explorers will practice navigation techniques, learn about extreme weather survival and how to apply remote medical trauma treatment. They will even practice preparing a fire from scratch and build a shelter in the wilds. Upon returning from the survival course, guests can stay overnight in one of the camp’s comfortable cabins.
Discover more: www.visitjebeljais.com/adrenaline/bear-grylls-explorers-camp/
Adventurati is a licenced adventure operator that encourages people to step outside their comfort zones, challenge themselves and expand their horizons. The firm specialises in mountain-based activities, including retreats, hiking, trekking, backpacking, canyoning, climbing and survival courses.
Discover more: www.adventurati-outdoor.com
Set in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains, this nature adventure park and luxury camping oasis allows guests to immerse themselves in the incredible natural environment. Challenging Adventure has access to local farms and traditional farming methods for authentic cultural and outdoor experiences. It offers a range of great outdoor activities, including rock climbing, kayaking, trekking through ancient villages, conservation, orienteering and Bedouin-style cooking.
Discover more: www.challengingadventures.com
Beyond Action is a Ras Al Khaimah-based tour operator that promotes eco-tourism and encourages hikers to ‘leave no trace’ so that nature can continue to bloom in this special eco-climate. The firm’s experienced tour and mountain guides and training teams lead nature-seeking travellers through the beautiful Ras Al Khaimah landscape.
Discover more: www.beyondaction.ae
Hajar Mountain Adventures
Hajar Mountain Adventures is the only RAKTDA-certified UAE-based company offering adventure training skills and leadership assessment courses in the Hajar Mountains.
Discover more: https://www.hajarmountainadventures.ae/
Commandos Adventures offers a range of adventure tour options, from weekend hikes in the Hajar Mountains to scuba diving off Ras Al Khaimah’s stunning coastline.
Discover more: www.commandosadventures.com