06 Nov 5 Adventure Activities To Enjoy In Your Next Trip To Ras Al-Khaimah
You all have that friend who’s been to Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) at some point, but you have never made it there. Or maybe you have been there once or twice, only to have the day lazily go by while you sunbathe and enjoy brunch. But, there’s more to that in RAK.
Tudor T. listed 5 awesome things to do in Ras Al-Khaimah as you plan to conquer your next adventure in this quaint Emirate paradise.
Out of 6 years in the UAE, I’ve lived for more than 4 years in Ras Al-Khaimah. Having just recently moved to Dubai, you’re bound for an authentic testimony of what’s worth trying here enough that I actively recommend these things to my clients and closest friends as weekend activities and whatnot.
People nowadays write and show photos of what they see, instead of what they feel. Ras Al-Khaimah should make you feel differently, so the following ‘to-do list’ in RAK ought to do the trick. But before we do that, it would be good to give you a couple of info tips:
- Ras Al-Khaimah has always had its own tourism regulatory authority called RAK Tourism – sort of a DTCM for RAK. Since about 2 years now, under the management of new CEO Haitham Mattar (ex-Hilton Worldwide), many achievements and milestones have been reached. They have tons of events and promotions, working tirelessly with various tourism operators to boost the Emirate’s popularity and position it as a travel destination.
- It’s the only Emirate (and one of the few places in the GCC) that has white sandy beaches, rugged mountain terrain and dark-red desert dunes that stretch for miles, all within minutes of each other.
- You can always check the local website: www.rakcalendar.ae for up-to-date events and local happenings across the Emirate in real time before taking the trip.
So, let’s get down to business. Here are the 5 items that should be in your RAK weekender to-do list.
1. Drive Up To Jebel Jais Mountain
This definitely tops my list and it would probably top yours too if you gave it a try. At almost 2,000 m, Jebel Jais is the tallest mountain peak of the UAE, nestled well inside a chain of rugged, raw, rocky mountain terrain that looks absolutely spectacular. Once you drive past RAK City, you might be tempted to think you’re on planet Mars – and it only gets better.
The road curves left & right, up and down (mainly up though), with 90-degree cliffs on each side of the tarmac; you pass dry river gorges that get flooded when it rains, you can ‘read’ the age of the Earth from the water layer marks embedded on the mountain stone. It takes about 40-minutes all-in-all and once you’re ‘at the top’ (not Burj Khalifa, but equally impressive) the view is stunning.
Not to worry though, they just finished building the new road which goes all the way up to the top, so you can get there with pretty much any well-maintained car. There are also picnic & BBQ areas available, extremely clean toilets and shaded areas out of the sun.
A 2-kilometer zip line is being set up and will be available soon, making it – of course – the longest zip line in the world. Rumors say a high-end mountain resort is also underway and some people went as far as to say it will have snow. Though I’m tempted to think ‘not a chance’, I’ve learned that anything is possible in the UAE, so let’s see. There are a couple of ways to enjoy this experience a lot more:
- Wake up early and get there at sunrise; make sure your camera batteries are fully charged. You’ll have never seen the sun filling up a canyon like this, steadily making its way up over the peaks. Nobody will be there, whereas it tends to get crowded at sunset.
- Take the drive in a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Audi R8. There are a couple of exotic rent-a-car companies that offer the Jebel Jais drive experience in a supercar. You can drive it yourself (I would get insurance though…) or choose the passenger seat alongside an experienced pilot.
2. Target Practice Followed by Horseback Riding at Al Dahaisa Stables
These can easily be combined because they’re very close to each other. Many of you might think it’s a strange combination, but it can easily fill half of your day.
Remember when video games first came out? There was a game called ‘Duck Hunter’ where you pointed towards the TV and shoot virtual clay disks. Well at RAK Shooting Club, you get a chance to do this in real life – and who would have thought it’s so much fun. Especially if you’re a beginner, they have great staff who are very helpful and talk you through everything. They also have professional pullers, under a controlled and safe environment. All that’s left for you to do is to aim.
For those less comfortable with a shooting club, Banyan Tree Al Wadi hosts a large, open-air professional archery range in the middle of orange-red sand dunes. The actual deck is tented, so the sun will go easy on you. Here, you will find the same professional support and advice, making sure you hit the target and enjoy this traditional Emirati desert setting.
Once done, Al Dahaisa Stables next door is a great place to try horseback riding, because of three main reasons:
- Beautiful horses, perfectly in line with the UAE’s passion for everything equestrian. Not only they are well fed, in an excellent condition and happy, but you can instantly connect with your horse. You will be given a brush and asked to pamper your horse beforehand. This alone is an awesome experience (and Instagram resource) especially if you’ve never handled a horse before.
- The stable keepers are all professionals and the instructors are genuinely passionate about what they do. This reflects in their instructions and indications throughout your experience, so there’s no chance to feel out of your comfort zone. The place is never crowded since they tend to only work with appointments. It won’t be as crowded as Global Village, giving you a chance for the full experience.
- It’s pretty well settled in a quiet area with plenty of greenery and shaded areas. Even in the hot sizzling summer, it will not feel as hot. You can see the mighty Hajjar Mountains in the backdrop as you ride, at times it feels as if you’re the star of a Wild West movie, especially since you were just clay shooting earlier.
Source: Al Dahaisa Stables Facebook Page
3. Fly Micro Aircraft at Jazirah Aviation Club
Jazirah Aviation Club is very popular and an excellent place if you want to get a bird’s eye view of the emirate. They offer plenty of services since essentially it’s a flight school. Our suggestion is to board what they call an ‘autogyro’ or more commonly known as ‘gyrocopter’. It’s like a helicopter, but much lighter and can only fly two people: the pilot and yourself. It’s very affordable, so even if you leave it for after the supercar drive, after horseback riding and archery – you will still afford to fly.
There aren’t too many conditions:
- Little to no wind, which is pretty much every day
- A brave co-pilot to face the blue skies of Ras Al-Khaimah
4. Learn Golf at Al Hamra Golf Club
Since you’re in the Middle East, why not give the game of golf a chance? Ras Al-Khaimah hosts two major 18-hole golf courses, namely Al Hamra Golf Club (which is in Al Hamra) and Tower Links Golf Club (which is in RAK City).
For a relaxed setting, not very crowded atmosphere and affordable entry we recommend Al Hamra Golf Club. If you’re a complete beginner, you might want to try the academy range before hitting the actual course. With the stunning and luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel in the backdrop, you should master the basics within a couple of hours.
The staff are very polite, quite a few culinary outlets to select from in the clubhouse and once you get your golf cart you can start a 9- or 18-hole run. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually very affordable to use the course, as well as renting equipment. A wonderful album addition to your social media that would make Rory McIlroy jealous.
5. Drink Tea with Style at Waldorf Astoria Camelia Lounge
What better way to end such a day other than relaxing in the plush armchairs off Camelia Tea Lounge terrace in Waldorf Astoria. Aside from hundreds of varieties of tea, they also serve shisha and all sorts of appetizing snacks.
Friendly, welcoming staff will make you feel on top of the world – even if you’re only there for a cup of tea or just to take pictures of the luxurious interiors.
Tip: if you approach the guest relations desk in the lobby and play your cards right, you can get a guided tour of the property for free – definitely an interesting presentation that will make you want to book the Waldorf overnight!
No matter if you stick to this order, opt to insert other activities or change it altogether, Ras Al-Khaimah is definitely a very different Emirate from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. There’s an overall quiet atmosphere, lacking the constant people buzz. Plus, you will be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of free parking spaces everywhere.