Ras Al Khaimah, smallest Emirate with a lot to offer – World Meanderings (n°57)
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost Emirate at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf and unlike its famous neighbours Dubai and Abu Dhabi it has neither oil nor gas. This explains why it stays true to its roots and allows tourists to get a glimpse of ancestral Arabia and its contrasting landscapes.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) may be a small territory barely larger than Surrey, but it condenses everything that the Emirates have to offer to visitors looking for active holidays. High mountains, enchanting desert, long sandy beaches and mangroves teeming with wildlife can easily be reached in a short time by car. You can start your day trekking in the mountains then enjoy a lazy afternoon on the beach before having a Bedouin-style dinner in the desert. Even a short stay will be rich in new experiences since RAK is fast becoming the hub of adventure sports for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ras Al Jibal is a spectacular mountain range dominated by Jebel Jais at 1,934m, the highest peak in the UAE. Deep gorges called wadis are lined by steep cliffs and peaks and create striking landscapes. They attract trekkers from the whole planet who find there an ideal playground to satisfy their passion. Treks are organised for trained trekkers as well as for beginners and are led by experienced guides and you can join in as long as you have a good fitness health and the right gear.
Last month’s big event in the UAE was the opening of the world record-breaking zipline set on Jebel Jais. The 2,830 metres long zipline has got an official certification by Guinness World Records for its length but it also is the fastest one with speeds close to 150km/hour and the average speed is 120km/hour! The 1,680m high launch platform has been set in the middle of a chasm and riders will undoubtedly quench their thirst for speed and adrenalin on their way down the highest mountain of the UAE. If tempted, plan your jump in advance since many people have already booked their ticket for this unique “flight”.
There are many ways to explore Ras Al khaimah’s desert, meet the Bedouins and discover the desert’s wildlife. Whether going for camel rides, horse riding, biking, skiing down the countless sand-dunes or choosing to admire skilled falconers train their beautiful birds, watch saluki, the famous desert greyhounds race, drive a SUV up and down the dunes or have dinner under the stars at a Bedouin camp… it’s an endless list of activities for the whole family.
Most hotels have been built on the seashore but unlike Dubai there is neither skyline nor dozens of high towers obstructing the view. This is no wonder that many people who live in Dubai spend weekends in Ras Al Khaimah to relax and unwind. All kinds of water activities are available at hotels. You will be spoilt for choice!
Fun for the whole family at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa
The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah stretches along a beautiful sandy beach and is a perfect starting point to explore the area. It’s only a few minutes from Ras Al Khaimah city centre where you can visit the Old Fort or the historical museum, shop in 5 different malls, play golf at the 18-hole golf-course or have an easy access to all the mountain or desert activities. The Kid Club and Teen Club are complimentary and welcome children all day long while parents can relax at the Spa or sunbath at one of the 7 swimming pools. The immense lagoon-like seawater pool is really amazing half-shaded by many tall palm trees.
Rooms have also been designed for families. There are very spacious, at least 48sqm, and flooded with light. The beach villas have sea-view suites with large balcony or terrace and have all been recently refurbished in light colours ensuring space, comfort and intimacy. They have direct access to the main part of the beautiful crescent-shaped beach, only open to suites’ guests. At Hilton Ras Al Khaimah all kinds of water-sports are available, from diving to sailing, jet-skiing, parasailing…
Food always is an important holidays’ issue! It will not be a problem at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah. With ten bars and restaurants choosing a dining place is easy and always satisfying. Pura Vida offers a wide range of tasty Brazilian cuisine. Seafood, quesadillas, a fantastic Brazilian meat BBQ and signature Caipirinhas along with live music are not to be missed during your stay. Piacere da Gustare is an Italian restaurant where you can have a romantic dinner and enjoy watch the chefs cooking your meal in the open kitchen. Maarid is the all-day dining restaurant where you will have a big breakfast seated at one of the table next to the beautiful saltwater pool. Relax and enjoy…
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes and X
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Willing to discover the Emirates? Any travel agency can arrange your trip with any ready-made package to the United Arab Emirates. If you prefer an à-la-carte journey in the Emirates, your travel agent can directly contact “You Travel” a British based company on its professional website “www.youtravel.com” to get an immediate quote about any accommodation, hotel and transfer in the UAE. « You Travel” is the main UK provider of hotels in the UAE, and You Travel is linked to “Meeting Point” the larger DMC (Destination Management Company) in the Emirates, thus offering the best service in term of security and comfort to clients.