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Last month, we delved into the heart of Dubai, a dazzling metropolis where architectural wonders loom and luxury shopping abounds. Our travels this month take us on paths less trodden, exploring the ancient echoes of the desert and the majestic realm of towering mountains.

A short 20 minute drive from downtown Dubai leads to Casa Mikoko on Kite Beach, a Zanzibar inspired escape. Merging Dubai’s urban appeal with the natural beauty of its coastline, it offers visitors a variety of experiences. Activities available range from kite surfing to paddleboarding to yoga on the beach. The resort offers a blend of adventure, culture and tranquility, making it an ideal spot for those looking to experience the Emirates’ varied offerings within close proximity to the city’s vibrant life.

However, the true heart of adventure beats atop Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak, towering at 1,934 meters above sea level in Ras Al Khaimah and only a two hour drive from Dubai. Forget the iconic views from the Burj Khalifa, the best vistas above the clouds are found here, amidst the rugged trails, high-ropes courses and the world’s longest zipline that makes Jebel Jais a haven for thrill-seekers.

The mountain’s edges, cut by a winding road accessible off the E611 motorway, offers breathtaking views and a cool retreat from the desert heat. The Jais Flight zipline sends you flying headfirst down the mountain’s slopes, offering a bird’s eye view of the majesty below at speeds that blur the landscape into an exhilarating rush. Sledding down the Jais Sledder ride is nothing short of spectacular, weaving through breathtaking vistas, though the sheer drops may give pause to those with young ones in tow.

For those seeking a mix of thrill and exploration, the Jais Ropes Course and hiking along clearly marked trails reveal the mountain’s beauty at a more measured pace, inviting adventurers of all ages and skills to partake in its wonders.

The mountain comes alive with the vibrant culture of the UAE.

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Emiratis setting up impromptu camps, roadside food trucks offering unexpected culinary delights, and the chance encounters with wildlife, from camels to goats. A memorable moment came when we encountered a Sheikh with entourage in tow, his presence underscoring the unique blend of modernity and tradition that defines the UAE.

No trip to Dubai is complete without venturing out into the Arabian desert. It is a journey back in time, imagining the ancient caravans that once traversed these endless sands. The traditional BBQ, shared stories, and laughter under the desert sky and endless sea of stars is a reminder of the desert’s timeless allure, connecting us to the generations of travellers who have passed through.

There are so many options for desert safaris, most within an hour of Dubai. From the exhilarating rush of dune bashing in 4×4 vehicles that carve through the golden sands, to the gentle sway of a camel ride. As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of fiery orange and deep purple, the safari often transitions to an evening of cultural immersion. Guests can find themselves enveloped in the rich tapestry of Bedouin culture, with authentic Arabian meals served under the stars, complemented by the mesmerising performances of belly dancers and the haunting melodies of traditional musicians.

These safaris often include opportunities to witness the craftsmanship of henna artists, the grace of falconry displays, and the chance to dress in traditional Arabian attire, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the region’s heritage. As the night deepens, the desert camp becomes a beacon of warmth and hospitality, inviting guests to gather around the fire, share stories, and enjoy the unparalleled tranquility of the desert night.

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