Ras Al Khaimah, Bear Grylls & the longest Zip Wire in the World!

Any trip to the Arab Emirates is a dream, (as you will see from our Dubai micro holiday also in this edition). Ras Al Khaimah is a lesser known (in the UK) northern emirate, fly into Dubai and drive a couple of hours north – it’s without stress, and arrive on the beach in any number of opulent hotels. We arrive late at night and travel to the Ras Al Khaimah Hilton Beach resort and after a dip in warm waters and a pretty good night’s sleep, (which would have been a superb night’s sleep if I hadn’t had the world’s longest Zip Wire on my mind at 0900 the next morning) we view the hotel in the early morning light. It’s quite stunning on a curved beach, with suites hugging the shoreline. The trip has been arranged with Visit Ras Al Khaimah tourism – one of the most slick and professional organisations I have dealt with – kind, generous and just rather lovely from start to finish – showing off the very best of the region.

The Jais Flight Zip Wire is distracting, I have a fear of heights coupled with an unreasonable determination – which rarely ends well… Morning has broken, and we travel towards Jebel Jais in the Hajar range, the highest mountain in the UAE reaching 1,934m into the sky …with a Zip Wire pinned to the peak! Before we kit up; helmets, GoPro and harness I make a sneaky dash to restaurant 1484, where we are later to dine, for a tot of Dutch courage! It didn’t help! The Zip wire is the longest in the world at 2.83km suspended 1,680m above sea level and after much fuss (by me) I descend at 100mph for around 4 minutes, in a horizontal sleeping bag (why would you?), to the floating catchment area – I try to compose myself, and feel invincible and able to take on anything – after all, tears are a good look on an Insta Live aren’t they!

Thankfully, all I must take on is a generous breakfast at restaurant 1484, stunning food overlooking Jebel Jais – as a sense of overwhelming achievement washes over me until I spot the tiny speeding human bullets shooting down the wire and I regress into another acrophobic state! It’s quickly quashed with a glass or two of Prosecco!

The RAK tour is a swift one and before we know it, we are off to the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp for a 24hr Primal Survivor Course. Bear is my hero – I pass that notion on as the course is run by enthusiastic Grylls disciples, we pack up our kit, wave goodbye to civilization and wander into the wilderness; self-sufficient, optimistic and eager to learn ropework, knots, abseiling, navigating by the stars, trapping and eating mealworms of course!

The group is fun, and we rotate chats with other adventurers as we wander up the dried wadi. We find camp and set our tents, light fires, we (I) pluck pigeon that we could have caught but didn’t, and study the stars before bed… Morning boot camp precedes a snack and a reverse wander down the wadi. We billet, balance, and I cry once more as we abseil back to civilization – what fun we had with a great team.

Back to the hotel for a fresh breakfast on the beach and some down time, it’s hot, relaxed and the hotel staff can’t do enough…

We have dinner planned at the authentic and traditional Arabian Maghta seafood restaurant where we sit on cushions, and enjoy the aromatic incense, flat breads are brought to us with teas, biriyani, fatouch, tabula, fresh fish and enjoy the cool, quiet ambiance of this café restaurant.

On day three we make our way further north once more to Dhaya Fort, dating back to the Bronze Age, the highest hilltop fort in the UAE, an 18th century fortification – captured by British forces in 1819, historical relevance in the paving of the way for the signing of the General Maritime Treaty of 1820. With a 70m climb to this restored fort the views are breath-taking across to Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Hajar mountains.

Our next stop is the Suwaidi Pearl Farm – so back to the coast, we arrive by boat and meet Abdullah Suwaidi the pearl king himself! As a child he watched his grandfather disappear under water for minutes at a time, and today, with his floating pearl farm Abdullah keeps the pearl romance alive. He is exceptionally charismatic and dedicated to spreading the pearly love. A real highlight of the trip.

In line with Abdullah’s aspirations, we travel inland to Al Jazeerah, an abandoned pearling village – the remains of which are enchanting and in the process of being restored and excavated. In 1800 it boasted 500 houses and after the discovery of oil the inhabitants left between  1968 and 1971. It is evocative to walk around – a living museum.

We conclude our trip with a spectacular wild safari in the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton in its 1,235-acre protected preserve. We enjoy the sunset falconry show illustrating the importance of the Bedouin culture and after chatting with the estate’s horses and camels make our way to the final supper in the Farmhouse; cocktails, a stunning menu, beautifully presented with humble service – exactly what one would expect from such a luxurious property.

An early flight home and we are back at our desks by midday… it almost feels like a dream…