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From pristine white sandy beaches to lush mangroves, rolling terracotta deserts and a stunning mountainous landscape, there are a multitude of exhilarating outdoor escapes awaiting you in Ras Al Khaimah this winter.
Whether you are into camping under the stars, exploring hiking hotspots and lesser-known hidden gems or you simply want to immerse yourself in nature, discover some of the best spots and activities now that the cooler temperatures are upon us:
From exhilarating hikes for all levels to exploring the old settlements of the Emirate’s mountain tribes, the soaring peaks of Ras Al Khaimah have something for everyone. They are especially breathtaking during the cooler months, when many of the valleys blossom with wild flowers and native flora. Discover these stunning landscapes across the trails leading to Sal Sheha (Hidden Oasis) and White Wadi, encounter mesmerising rock formations at the wadis facing Al Rams costal line, or even scale the heights of the UAE at Wadi Sheha Peak rising 1,110m above sea level. For those looking to explore at their own pace, take your pick from a range of self-guided trips on foot with more than 50+km of hiking trails or on two wheels with one of the Emirate’s e-mountain bikes.
For an authentic experience, enjoy a sunset walk to soak in spectacular panoramic views and step back in time with a traditional dinner, part of the Adventure Tourism Sustainable Program from Adventurati Outdoor, prepared by the local mountain tribes at Camp 1770, the highest camp in the UAE. Additionally, Bear Grylls Explorers Camp reopens for the season this November, offering a range of thrilling instructor-led survival courses and activities such as mountain biking, hiking, abseiling, and rock climbing – each one designed to test participants’ abilities to thrive and survive under extreme conditions. Those seeking a truly immersive mountain experience can book one of the 16 sustainable cabins that can host up to three guests, providing the perfect setting for swapping stories over the campfire.
And that’s not all. Adventurous hikers can explore the secrets of the mountains in the upcoming HIGHLANDER Ras Al Khaimah 2022, taking place on the UAE’s longest developed hiking trail. The second edition of HIGHLANDER’s specially designed two-and three-day hikes on Jebel Jais will run from 18 – 20 November, offering hikers and nature enthusiasts a thrilling adventure atop the country’s highest peak.
Ras Al Khaimah is also the perfect place to discover the peaceful tranquility of the ubiquitous Arabian desert, home to some of the most breath-taking terracotta dunes. From camping and horseback riding to camel treks and desert drives, the sprawling, protected spaces of Al Wadi Nature Reserve offer the perfect opportunity to switch off and soak in the natural landscapes. Visitors seeking decadent dining under the stars can head down to the Sonara Camp, a luxurious dining and entertainment experience, with herds of Oryx and Gazelles as dinner companions.
Stemming from the centre of the city, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a vast network of lush mangroves. Soak up this diverse natural landscape with a peaceful journey aboard a kayak or paddleboard and discover a vast array of birdlife – from pastel pink flamingos, western reef herons, kalba collared kingfishers to huge flocks of cormorants and even the greater spotted eagle.
For once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters, head to the beaches in the south of Ras Al Khaimah for the unique opportunity to swim with race camels. Paddle along with the majestic animals as they swim ahead and capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
History and Heritage
The winter season also brings with it the perfect opportunity to explore some of Ras Al Khaimah’s remarkable heritage. From hill forts, deserted villages, and ancient archaeological sites to the region’s only traditional pearl farm, Suwaidi Pearls, and tours around local date farms, immerse yourself into the remarkable story of the Emirate and the three tribes of mountain, sea, and desert that formed it.
Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “Ras Al Khaimah is blessed with spectacular topography, perfect for all nature-lovers and those who simply want to escape the day to day and switch off. Known as the Nature Emirate, and with activities for all ages and levels, the cooler winter months ahead are the perfect opportunity to experience our spectacular terrain and natural vistas. We are extremely proud of our natural surroundings and are continuously working to ensure we deliver awe-inspiring opportunities for visitors to explore our stunning landscapes without impacting the local ecosystem.”
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is dedicated to ensuring the safety of its visitors, especially on the mountains where conditions can be changeable. Anyone planning a mountain adventure in Ras Al Khaimah is encouraged to visit www.visitrasalkhaimah.com for details of the various self-guided and professionally guided hiking trails on offer in the mountains.
For those heading out alone, mountain safety expert Lee Ellison, Owner and Director of Training at Hajar Mountain Adventures – the UAE’s first certified adventure training company offering Mountain Leader courses – advises the following:
- Plan your hike, use your common sense, and do not exceed you and your fellow hiker’s limitations.
- Research the downloaded self-guided trail and make notes. Do not rely on GPS; the signal may be poor in the mountains. Charge your smartphone before you set off.
- Know the trail’s regulations and note the opening and closing times of the route. Do not attempt to hike the trail if it is closed.
- Understand how long the route should take you and the various potential challenges you may face.
- Water is not available on most trails, so take your own and remember to refill at water fountains available on some routes. You should drink about one liter of water each hour.
- If you drive to the start point of a trail by car, leave a note inside the windscreen stating details such. as the route taken, size and name of the group, contact number of the hike leader and time you expect to return.
- Save emergency numbers on several phones.
- Try and hike at times when there are likely to be other people around, such as in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Always keep track of time, and if necessary, turn back with ample time to finish your hike before dark.
- Never hike alone.