24-Hours in Ras Al Khaimah
Mention Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) to anyone outside the UAE and chances are, you will get blank stares. Even amongst the locals, RAK is often thought of as a somewhat sleepy, backwater location, miles away from Dubai. After all, the emirate does not boast all the glitz and glam of Dubai, however, there is more than meets the eye. Up for a challenge, I decided to find out what RAK has to offer in 24-hours, and I can truly say it is an emirate that has adventure written all over it!
8:00 am: Be One with Mother Nature
I found myself kayaking in the creek that lines our newly opened Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah, heading into the mangroves. A unique hidden gem nestled in the middle of the city, the mangroves of RAK are teeming with wildlife – from herons and eagles to the occasional flying fish. The best view is to catch sight of the flamingoes as they come out to feed and take to the sky.
Insider Tip: To have a better chance of spotting the flamingoes make sure to visit the mangroves during low tide.
1:00 pm: In Search of the Living Ghost Town
Curiosity got the best of me, so I ventured off to the “ghost” village of Jazirat, Al Jazeera. Run-down in appearance and condition, this previously thriving pearling village is the best place to see houses from the pre-oil era that are built completely from corals and compacted shells. Imagine the feat it must have been to build such masterpieces in architecture. However, after decades of abandonment, many of these buildings have crumbled with the passage of time. Luckily, work has recently been carried out to preserve this historical site.
3:00 pm: Wadi Trekking
RAK is an emirate with the Hajar Mountains as its backdrop. Hidden amongst this mountainous range are stunning wadis waiting to be discovered. With the help of a guide, I found myself in rugged landscape, walking along a dry riverbed bordered with gnarled trees. Along the way, we stumbled upon a few abandoned mountain dwellings; they are small houses no bigger than 10sqm and would have been home to a family of six or more. Scattered a distance away from these houses are other smaller structures that do not have doors or windows, just a small opening. At first, I could not quite figure out what they were until my guide shared that these were called “ahem” known as daddy and mummy rooms. With that, I shall leave you to ponder the purpose of these structures.
Insider tip: Challenging Adventure Centre offers guided trekking tours. Expect the trip to be at least 3 hours.
7:00 pm: Shopping for Provisions
Hungry and exhausted after the trek, it was time to do some seafood shopping. RAK has two fish markets – one that operates in the morning and another in the evening. They are probably the best place to stock up and satisfy any seafood cravings. Caught fresh, many of the fish are still very much alive when brought to the fish market. From large tuna to rays and shrimps, you will be spoiled with choices. Be sure to check out the fish auction that takes place opposite of the market.
Insider tip: Make sure that you are prepared to bargain for the best possible prices. You can also get your fish cleaned for a mere AED 5, saving you the hassle.
9:00 pm – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
With my freshly purchased dinner, I headed into the desert for a barbeque and camp over. For once, I can truly say that I have slept under the stars with captivating views of the elusive Milky Way. In the calm, silent surroundings, it is hard not to appreciate the wonder of the cosmos and ponder about life. I decided to sleep in the open, on the sand and it was truly an experience. Needless to say, I slept like a baby after such an invigorating day out!
Although one might think that the desert would be terribly dry, in the evening condensation formed droplets of water on my sleeping bag and tent.
6:00 am – Run camel run
The final leg of my adventure was to witness a camel race. Digdaga in RAK is renowned for having one of the best camel race tracks. Camel races start in October and run through the winter season. Situated on a plain between the dunes and the mountains, races are held during the weekends from October through the winter season. You will be sure to see scores of people line these racetracks on Friday mornings egging on their favorite camel.
Insider tip: The races only take place during the early hours of the morning before it becomes too hot for the camels. Get up early to make sure you can get a good spot to watch the action.
Now that you have read my 24-hour adventure, start planning your very own RAK experience!