Peering at the gaping abyss before me, I’m hit by a slight feeling of terror as I gear up to ride the world’s longest zipline.
This attraction, nestled in the heart of the Hajar mountain range in the United Arab Emirates’ northernmost emirate Ras Al Khaimah, measures 1.7 miles long and hurtles thrill-seekers along at speeds of up to 93mph.
To prepare for the ride, I’m placed in a sling so I can fly along on my belly and told to maintain a ‘superman position’.
There are two ziplines side-by-side, so you can race your buddy and my friend Marjolein looks as equally nervous as she’s given her pre-flight briefing.
After two pros strap us in, they count down before letting us off the hook so we can fly along like fighter planes, 5,511 feet above sea level.
Three, two, one, we’re off. I let out a scream as I whizz off above the rocky peaks. I can’t see the other side of the mountain range due to an influx of cloud and strong winds cause me to sway rather unnervingly.
I look at the single steel cable and just pray it will hold my weight to the end.
The Jebel Jais Flight, as it is called, lasts for around two minutes.
The sensation reminds me of the time I went skydiving and my face wobbles like jelly from the force of the wind. Meanwhile, my eyes stare wide in terror through a pair of geeky-looking goggles.
As I get used to the flying sensation, I start to enjoy it.
The views are pretty sensational with craggy valleys winding below me and roads zigzagging in all kinds of directions.
What else to explore in Ras Al Khaimah
The UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is often overlooked by its glamorous neighbour Dubai but this region has loads to offer. Here are some of the things to explore during your visit:
- If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, sign up for the UAE Bear Grylls Explorers Camp with four, eight and 24-hour course available
- Take a trip to the desert and meet the Arabian oryx, the UAE’s national animal, on a sand dune safari at the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert. Falconry shows also take place and the Farmhouse restaurant serves up a delicious spread of food and top-notch martinis
- If you don’t fancy the Jebel Jais Flight, the Jais Sky Tour is a slightly more sedate option, with seven ziplines zigzagging through the mountains at a slower pace
- Step back in time and learn about the ancient art of pearl diving at the Suwaidi pearl farm. Abdulla Al Suwaidi, one of the UAE’s last pearl divers, will tell you some fascinating stories about how his grandfather inspired him and you can opt to stay on his ‘floating castle’ for a seafood lunch
- Soak up views of the sea, mountains and city with a kayak through Ras Al Khaimah’s mangroves. You will see pink flamingos wading in the shallow waters, along with herons and some rarer specimens. Crabs, turtles and rays are also regularly sighted on the tours led by Challenging Adventures
To my right I see the sun setting with a golden light casting a glow over the otherworldly scenery.
Suddenly I feel myself slowing down, and I breathe a sigh of relief as I see the end in sight.
I smack into a braking block and a man reels me on to a floating platform.
It feels like all the blood has rushed my head and as Marjolein zooms in, I see she is red in the face too.
The Jebel Jais Flight certainly makes for an exhilarating ride.
Afterwards we head for a well-earned feast at the UAE’s highest restaurant which is located a little further up the Jebel Jais mountain.
Before our zipline the nerves made it a little tricky to stomach anything.
The lofty eatery called 1484 By Puro (the name reflecting the fact that it is located at 1,484 metres above sea level) opened in October and it boasts an incredible positioning amid the clouds.
Be sure to check in a late afternoon sitting so you can watch the sunset through the floor to ceiling windows or from the balcony if it’s not too gusty.
The menu offers a varied spread of cuisine with the wasabi shrimps and Gravlax spiced tuna among the recommended items.
I’d admittedly never heard of Ras Al Khaimah before visiting but this emirate has a glittering array of things on offer with a sweeping coastline, wind-whipped desert and mountainous region to explore.
Not forgetting of course, the world’s longest zipline and UAE’s highest restaurant being two of the high-lights.
How to plan your own Ras Al Khaimah adventure
- Dubai is now on the UK travel corridor list with no quarantine required on either side and free PCR tests carried out on arrival
- Flights from the UK to Dubai run regularly with Emirates
- For a convenient base, check into the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa, which is an hour’s drive from Dubai and 90 minutes from Jebel Jais. The new beach villas at this sprawling property are spacious and chic and there are more than 10 restaurants to choose from with other amenities including a 24-gym, spa and six swimming pools
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Credit: Original article published here.