FACT checks in for a weekend of adventure, survival skills and back-to-basics living.
Ras Al Khaimah, situated in the northernmost part of the United Arab Emirates, is the countries fourth largest emirate and boasts a vast range of activities for the intrepid traveller. From luxury beachfront resorts to rolling orange sand dunes and the Hajar Mountains’ topography, Ras Al Khaimah has positioned itself as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts in search of adventure.
Offering an entirely different experience to Dubai’s glitz and glamour, Ras Al Khaimah, meaning ‘top of the tent’ in Arabic, presents a side of the UAE that most visitors do not see. A place that embraces the Arabian culture’s uniqueness, the natural environment, and adventure waiting to be discovered.
Much of Ras Al Khaimah’s recent tourist boom revolves around Jebel Jais. The countries tallest peak towers 1,934 meters above sea level with its marvellous vistas, endless hiking options and the world’s longest zip-line! The most recent addition to the mountain is the Bear Grill’s Explorers Camp.
Situated in a rocky wadi at the bottom of Jebel Jais, the new camp accommodation opens this week, providing guests with the opportunity to reconnect with nature and rediscover their wild spirit. The unique outdoor lodging experience follows the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp’s successful launch in September last year, offering nine recycled and redesigned shipping containers that have been converted into cabins.
The back-to-basics accommodation provides a picturesque mountain setting for those searching for remote and curated experiences in the new era of travel. Set in an open area with campfires and rocky outcrops towering above, the cabin accommodation has been designed to offer a COVID-safe experience. The lodging has been developed with smaller groups in mind, with each cabin accommodating a maximum of three guests with strict safety protocols and social distancing measures in place.
Rates for the cabins start from AED 450 per night per cabin on weekdays and AED 650 per night on weekends. Not to be mistaken for a luxury experience, a stay in one of the sand coloured cabins with camouflage netting for shade is more akin to camping, so make sure you bring everything with you – soap, towels, food! Self-catering facilities, including a BBQ on a private outdoor terrace, are available at each cabin to prepare meals. The camp is also dog friendly, welcoming up to two dogs per cabin at an extra charge of AED 50, but owners are advised to keep their pets on a leash and accompanied at all times.
Once checked in, visitors must make their way up the rugged pathways to their cabin. Remember there is no bellboy or valet, so you’ll have to carry your own bags. Inside the simply furnished cabin, you’ll find bunk beds, an air conditioning unit, a mini-fridge, storage space and a compact bathroom complete with a toilet and shower. It’s cosy with mountain vistas printed onto the internal walls and the experience transpires to be more comfortable than we were expecting. All cabins are cleaned and sanitised after each use and are supported by round-the-clock security and an on-site medic.
When it comes to preparing your meals, essential cooking equipment such as plates, bowls, cutlery, mugs and BBQ tools are provided. However, a small on-site shop offers additional amenities such as snacks and firewood for purchase, in case you’ve forgotten something. Don’t forget to pack marshmallows for a touch of gooey fireside nostalgia.
The accommodation is just the start of the adventure! Guests have the option to take part in several activities such as fat bike riding (AED 60), bouldering, climbing, abseiling and self-guided wadi hikes. For the bravest, there is the option to embark on a thrilling survival course run by UK experts trained at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. The popular survival courses offer half-day, eight-hour and 24-hour options and are designed for both adults and families. Participants are provided with all the necessary survival equipment before being exposed to the practical and extreme survival techniques required to survive in the wilderness. Depending on the course, guests can expect to learn how to build emergency shelters, navigate using the stars, find food sources and learn practical skills such as the tying of knots and knife work. We embark on a morning adventure into the wilderness with the charismatic Jake, and within minutes we’ve learnt the best type of shelter for the desert, the canopy, as well as how to find due north using an analogue watch. It’s an exhilarating and interesting experience that many of us city dwellers could learn a lot from.
After 24 hours in the wilderness, where we’ve had to ignite our own fires and fend for ourselves, we feel a real sense of achievement. The opportunity to completely disconnect (there’s no WiFi at the camp) and embrace the natural surroundings is undoubtedly appreciated. With very few guests on-site at one time, the new cabins at the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp allow guests the opportunity to escape the stresses of the pandemic world and reconnect with nature.
The Bear Grylls Explorers Camp is now available to book, welcoming guests from 3 March 2021.
GO: Visit www.beargryllscamp.ae for bookings and more information.