Summer is here and everybody is looking for a getaway. Finding a perfect destination to beat the summer heat is a challenge, however Ras al Khaimah seems to be a surprising avenue. It’s no man-made structure, or, some brilliant engineering feat, but beholds mesmerizing expanse of serene beauty.
The waters of Persian Gulf and the sandy coastline make Ras al Khaimah, a destination worth visiting in a lifetime. The east boasts of the spectacular mountain range called the Ru’us Al Jibal, which is like a jewel amidst the harsh desert heat and forms a part of the Hajar Mountains.
From water sports to desert experiences, from golfing to historical sites, Ras al Khaimah offers a plethora of outdoor and indoor activities making it an ideal weekend spot. However, before you pack your bags and begin rappelling, here are some crucial points to consider:
Forgot your sleeping bag? There is no need to worry as you can find space saving tents that roll up into a small bag. Along with your sleeping bag, do not forget to pack a ground mat, absence of which can cause a lot of discomfort. A sleeping bag alone will not be enough to have a good night’s sleep, ergo the ground mat, which acts as a barricade, protecting you from the humidity and rock heat that emits throughout the night.
Fire remains a very elusive feature while camping, or, trekking. Camping in the Al Hajar mountain range without the services of man’s greatest invention would be a bust. Obviously, one would not require fire to stay warm as temperatures do not get frigid during this time of the year, but it is essential for cooking and enjoying barbeque by the bonfire. Cigarette lighters are nearly weightless and don’t take up any space whatsoever. It is always better to carry two or three units to be on the safer side.
As the body reaches its peak resting state, bodily functions decrease to bare minimum, performing the least amount of tasks. Hence, you might start feeling really cold in the middle of the night as the body temperature drops. Packing a few warm clothes will serve the purpose. Nevertheless, you need not load up on sweaters and woolens, a thick pullover should be more than enough.
When it comes to food and cooking supplies it is easy to get carried away. Avoid bulky pots, pans, and coolers, and opt for one mess kit. Available at most outdoors shops, mess kits are lightweight, portable, and unbelievably useful. They are put together like a small jigsaw puzzle, each piece fitting inside the other. Typically, a mess kit offers campers two pans, a pot, a spoon, and a mesh bag for transport. If you are equipped with a mess kit, the pots and pans can be used to prepare meals as well as eat from it.
This is important, here in the UAE one cannot rely on tap water for drinking purposes, hence packing some mineral water is an absolute must. Depending on the number of days and the amount of trekking you undertake, you need to account for as much water. Usually a camelbak (two gallons) is good enough for a weekend getaway. There are several companies and brands that offer an in-built thermos flask that keeps water hot or cold. Camelbaks hold all the water you need for a few days and are easy to refill. They fit easily into backpacks and are equipped with a spout to quench your thirst with utter convenience.
All fun and no responsibility makes one a bad citizen, so be responsible! Clean up the mess you leave behind. It is impossible not have some junk as a by-product of cooking and eating. Make sure you pack a few large garbage bags and fill them up with all the waste. Read the signs! If there is no garbage pickup, carry the garbage bags along with you and chuck it in a bin in near sight. I recently encountered a lot of garbage bags in the dunes that border the Emirates road, on the way to Ras al Khaimah. Sources say, the municipality cleans up from time to time, but let’s be more responsible and show that we truly care about the environment.
Also, do not forget to carry along a pair of sunglasses and a bicycle crash helmet that come in handy while trekking. Last but not the least dress for the occasion, skinny jeans and a t-shirt are not the ideal trekking and camping attire. Cargo’s 3/4th or full lengths are a trusted choice as they are not only comfortable but practical as well with several pockets to hold many nick knacks. A jersey or a perforated synthetic t-shirts is ideal for the torso, coupled with chunky-soled solid shoes.
Carry a map. It doesn’t matter whether you are a tech savvy person and believe paperback maps are outdated and choose to navigate via your smartphone or vice versa, a map remains on the most crucial aspects of a getaway weekend. Even seasoned campers who know the route like the backs of their hands can get lost. And being lost without a map can be terrifying. If you fear a hefty data usage and bill, then it is advisable to have downloaded the offline map of the destination before heading out.
Getting lost without a map is one hassle, but getting lost in the dark is worse. Be sure to pack a flashlight in your backpack or wear a headlamp if hiking for a long time. Even if you are around your site, a light will help you with all tasks once the sun sets. And with a long battery life, these small portable devices are priceless. Also, consider purchasing LED torches, as LED’s consume less energy and last longer. Then there are the winding-type, dynamo torches which are even better as there is no added worry of replacing batteries.
Travel Medical Kit
It only takes one wrong step to become injured outdoors. Trails can be rocky at the AL Hajar Mountains, rocks can be slippery, and sandy-gravel can lead to a terrible backward slide. Be prepared for any eventuality with a portable First Aid kit. Remember, preparing for the worst does not mean you are weary and apprehensive; in fact it is the smarter solution. You can purchase pre-packaged ones or make your own.
The Al Hajar mountain ranges account for the borders of a few Arab countries, and, Ras Al Khaimah is truly blessed to have these ranges extending into its region. For years now, citizens from Abu Dhabi and Dubai find this range as a perfect get away spot, especially as temperatures soar to harsh levels. Take note of the above mentioned tips.
You don’t have to head to far off destinations this summer, when the ideal getaway is right here – RAK.