Two Land Rover Diaries explorers’ whistle-stop voyage covers heritage sites, traditional excursions, adventure activities, Emirati cuisine, all-new Via Ferrata and… ice-cream?
It’s a familiar ‘long weekend’ dilemma for many UAE residents taking a quick trip abroad or travelling to another emirate for a National Day staycation: what exactly do you squeeze in during a 72-hour break in a new destination? For intrepid British explorers Matt Croucher QC and Theo Measures, a whistle-stop visit to Ras Al Khaimah posed exactly that challenge.
After partnering with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA)for the latest chapter in their vehicular adventure travel journal, ‘The Land Rover Diaries’(as featured in OutdoorUAE), Matt and Theo drove headfirst into more than 20 of the emirate’s adventure activities, heritage sites and bespoke tourism products during a 72-hour odyssey through the UAE’s most northern emirate.
After reaching Ras Al Khaimah via a Seawings seaplane flight from Dubai, the pair sampled a broad mix of the emirate’s adventure and leisure pursuits – from scuba diving in the mangroves, stand-up paddle boarding, golf swing tutorials at Al Hamra Golf Club and sand boarding, to a four-hour hiking, orienteering and zip-lining mission on Ras Al Khaimah’s new flagship adventure tourism product, the all-new Via Ferrata in the Al Hajar Mountains.
In addition to putting their white Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury through its paces on the meandering roads that weave around the Via Ferrata site on Jebel Jais the duo of course went off-road to navigate the rocky gullies of Wadi Kub, as well as a dune bashing trip in RAK’s desert.
On the cultural side, Matt and Theo also experienced an overnight stay at the Bedouin Oasis Camp, and numerous heritage sites such as the restored Mohamed bin Salem Mosque, Dhayah Fort and Al Jazirah Al Hamra.
And then there was the ice-cream… A third of the way into their gruelling 72-hour expedition, the boy stook a well-earned break and popped into Ras Al Khaimah’s Ashook ice-cream parlour – a favourite haunt for locals and tourists alike.
“I was taken aback by the sheer number of adventure activities to experience in Ras Al Khaimah. I’d recommend this destination to anyone wanting an adrenaline rush and to be close to nature. It’s also really accessible from Dubai,” said Matt, whose charity Action Against Poaching was featured in a recent issue of OutdoorUAE magazine.“I have been lucky enough to travel to some amazing destinations around the world with Land Rover, and Ras Al Khaimah is up there among the best. It is still relatively untouched, with some real hidden gems, that makes it feel like you’re the first to discover them.”
Following the completion of their mammoth Ras Al Khaimah excursion, the pair met Haitham Mattar,RAKTDA’s CEO, who presented them with a comprehensive dossier of all the activities and attractions not in their break-neck itinerary.
“That made us laugh,” said Measures, a serial entrepreneur with a passion for cars and the Middle East. “72 hours in RAK sounds like a fair bit of time to explore, but there were so many things that we still haven’t tried. It is hard to choose a favourite out of all the activities we experienced, but for me the definite highlights were the Via Ferrata, the Seawings flight from Dubai and most importantly the new friendships we have made with the fantastic people we were lucky enough to meet.”
As RAKTDA progresses its strategy to increase more diversity into the emirate’s burgeoning adventure product portfolio, Mattar revealed Croucher and Measures are destined to return.
“Adventure tourism is a growing area for RAK and Matt and Theo have tried some of the best the emirate has to offer. It is rare to find a destination like Ras Al Khaimah where you can scuba diving in the sea, sand boarding in the desert and ziplining in the mountain – all in one day,” said Mattar. “The Via Ferrata is only the start of the adventure tourism proposition we are developing on Jebel Jais, where we will launch the world’s longest zip-line and a dedicated adventure park in Q4 2017. For the less adventurously inclined, Jebel Jais has lots of accessible trekking options and its natural mountain beauty will soon be available to all courtesy of an observation deck planned for its peak.”
To find out more about The Land Rover Diaries, a series of expeditions covering culture, history, architecture, design, hospitality, the natural landscape, outdoor activities, off-roading and the spirit of adventure, visit @VisitRasAlKhaimah and @TheLandRoverDiaries on Instagram and Facebook, or search #72HoursInRAK. You can also watch highlights from the trip on YouTube athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QHkkaPbWhg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTiQMz54yko