Riding the Arabian dragon’s spiny backbone (second part)

From the first part: When we have the opportunity we like to escape Dubai, with its technologically advanced skyscraper landscape, to find ourselves in the hills. We left the children at home for a short overnight trip to take part in a running race to the top of Wadi Bih, near Dibba, Oman…

The second part of our trip took on a completely different flavor. The dust, energy and eventual exhaustion of our first trip was replaced by a relaxing, peaceful time within the sanctuary of a beach resort. The Hilton Ras al Khaimah Resort and Spa describes itself as where “barefoot luxury meets fun and adventure, and goes hand in hand with relaxation”. And that’s what we got. It’s a popular haunt for tourists and Dubai residents.

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Ras al Khaimah, which means “Top of the Tent” possibly in reference to the mountains, isn’t a bustling city but its history dates back to the 3rd Millennium BC, when it was know as Julfar. It’s a good base to visit the mountains, but routes can be dangerous, so it’s worth going with a guide.

The Stairway to Heaven is one example. It offers magnificent views and was created Bedouins to give access from Wadi Galilah in Ras al Khaimah to the high mountain villages located just over the border in Oman. With drops of 300 metres, and with over 2,000 metres of ascent and descent, it is not for the faint hearted and accidents are not unknown.

If you are looking for day trips that do not leave your pulse racing or your heart pounding, Ras al Khaimah is also a good base to visit the nearby thermal springs at Khatt, and the Musandam peninsula for a spot of dolphin watching.

However, with its spa, watersports, beach, pools, kids’ club and a good range of restaurants you might never leave the hotel. I never say no to chilling out…but then again I never say know to the chance to climb on a dragon’s back either.

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The practical bit

What to do: Dhow trip around Musandam peninsula; thermal springs at Khatt, mountain walks.
What you need to know: You can cross into Oman at the Tibat border post, and back again, but at time of writing you can not create a circular route through to Dibba, unless you are an Omani or UAE national, due to border restrictions at that crossing. If you want to cross into Oman at the Dibba border post you’ll need to book accommodation in advance, and the hotel or your tour operator will make crossing arrangements for you. It is currently not possible to cross the border to camp on the beach with a UAE resident’s visa.
And finally: Don’t forget your passport.

Where is Ras al Khaimah?


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Read the first part.

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I'm a journalist, public relations and marketing specialist who has a passion for international travel, history and photography. Experiences have included backpacking in South America and the Far East, touring Europe in a camper van, working in villages in Africa, travelling with the British Army in Kenya, Oman and Northern Ireland, working in Saudi Arabia, living in Kuwait, Chicago and the United Arab Emirates.

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