18 Mar Ras Al-Khaimah
Welcome to Ras Al-Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is the fourth-largest city in the United Arab Emirates, located near the northernmost point, sharing its boundaries with the Emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, Sharjah and the international border with the Sultanate of Oman. RAK is divided by a creek into two areas: old town in the west and Al Nakheel in the east.
From majestic mountains, terracotta deserts, exciting museums, nature reserves, endless beaches, luxury hotels, abandoned villages, desert safaris, and age-old traditions make this glorious region the most diverse Emirate.
With only a short 45-minute drive from chaotic Dubai, this oasis is the perfect place to unwind and get away from it all.
Our weekend away from the City
Living and working in the UAE, we are always looking for unique getaways, and Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) came highly recommended by locals and colleagues.
Visiting RAK was an incredible discovery, with its epic, rugged scenery, beautiful sandy beaches and adrenaline-filled activities, so if you like the idea of an Arabian getaway, this could be the next bucket-list destination for you.
Between March and May, springtime is the ideal time to visit Ras Al Khaimah when temperatures average around 27 degrees celsius and skies are clear and blue.
We travelled here in February, and the weather was perfect!
How To Get There
As we lived in Abu Dhabi, we decided to hire a car to get to RAK for the weekend. Driving from Abu Dhabi to RAK takes approximately 2hr 30min (251.2 km) via E11 and Emirates Rd/E611. From Dubai, it takes about 1hr 20min.
Where to Stay
There’s a great selection of accommodations in Ras Al Khaimah to suit your style and budget. Many of the resorts are spread over a vast distance, along the Emirate’s 64 kilometres of beachfront.
We stayed at the newly opened InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa, which is part of the IHG group of hotels.
There’s nowhere better than this waterfront resort offering an idyllic island living amongst lush green landscapes and powdery white sand, six restaurants and bars, and sea-facing rooms, suites and villas.
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- The Cove Rotana Resort
- InterContinental RAK Resort & Spa
- DoubleTree Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Isl
- Marjan Island Resort & Spa
- Bin Majid Beach Hotel
- Citymax Hotel Ras Al Khaimah
Although Ras Al Khaimah is a liberal and modern place, respecting local culture and customs is essential. Dress modestly and ethically. It can be as simple as keeping your shoulders and knees covered when visiting public places.
Things to look out for in the desert
As we had our own car, we followed our GPS through the dense sand and passed a herd of camels. The landscapes are beautiful and have an authentic feel of an Arabic desert. But be warned to drive carefully as the sand is quite dense may leave you bogged in it, as it happened to us.
But we were rescued by local Arabs who were more than happy to pull us out, and as they told us, this is a common occurrence in the desert. The tip to driving in the desert is to release the pressure from the tyres first.
Places Of Interest
Head to the tallest mountain in the UAE, called Jebel Jais, part of the Hajar Mountain Range.
Driving a 20-kilometre-long road to the top, snaking through the Jebel Jais mountain roads, with viewing platforms along the route to immerse yourself with the surrounds of the barren cliffs, was breath-taking. It almost felt like being on Mars, with landscapes of huge rocks, mountains, and barren scenery. Once you’ve reached the top of the highest peak, breathe in the fresh air to feel rejuvenated.
There is a Viewing Deck Park, with a series of landscaped terraces with cafés and information booths, from where visitors can gaze out over the coastal plain. It’s a prime location for photographers, particularly in the early evening when the orange-hued rocks glow in the setting sun’s light.
Here at Jebel Jais, depending on how adventurous you are, you can either enjoy the landscapes or go hiking or experience the zipline or the newest attraction, mountain sledging.
The mountain is remote and rugged, so perfect for a day of hiking, rock climbing or discovering abandoned villages. In the cooler winter months, the lower slopes of Jebel Jais are a major destination for keen hikers and climbers. There are six hiking trails, offering great views.
Toroverde – The longest zipline in the world is not for the faint-hearted, but here is where you can experience a ride of a lifetime! Approximately 2.8km long and reaches speeds of up to 160 kph!
Ziplining has become one of the UAEs’ major adventure activities and the main drawcard for adrenaline fanatics visiting the country.
We didn’t do this, but we did try the newest ride in Jebel Jais – Mountain Sledging!
Recently opened, Jais Sledder is a hair-raising toboggan ride with speeds of up to 40 km per hour. Taking approximately 8 minutes hurtling across the tracks and experiencing exhilarating hairpin curves along the way, you will enjoy stunning mountain views on this alpine coaster track that stretches 1,885 metres.
After a morning of adrenaline activities, we drove to the Bassata Bedouin Camp in the Ras Al Khaimah Desert Village. A unique village with terracotta-hued dunes set in a protected enclave, home to Bedouins, wild camels, the rare oryx, and the occasional lone donkey. Here you can experience the Arabic culture by spending an evening at a Bedouin Oasis Camp in the desert. There is also an opportunity to go on a desert safari and experience 4×4 dune bashing activity.
Enjoy a delicious BBQ and local entertainment, including a belly dancer and fire entertainer. You can get a henna tattoo done by the local bedouin women or go on a camel ride if you are keen.
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