By Staff writer
Via Ferrata spans the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, which rises to 6,266 feet and is part of the rugged Al Hajar mountain range
Ras Al Khaimah’s new flagship adventure tourism product – the region’s first commercial Via Ferrata (Iron Path) – is set to open to the public.
The three-course Via Ferrata spans the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, which rises to 6,266 feet and is part of the rugged Al Hajar mountain range where the average climate is 10 degrees Celsius below mean Gulf temperatures.
The final test of the attraction was completed recently when Haitham Mattar, the CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), and Emirati adventurers Huda Zowayed and Hamad Al Mazrouey climbed, trekked and zip-lined the challenge.
Ras Al Khaimah’s 470 metre-long Via Ferrata is unique to the region in that it comprises three individual start and finish points, as well as three zip-lines measuring 165 feet, 195 feet and 985 feet to expand possibilities for various age and fitness capabilities.
Mattar said: “It was an exhilarating experience, one which definitely gets the adrenalin flowing and which, we are convinced, will attract a keen following from the local, regional and international adventure tourism segment.
"With RAKTDA currently developing Jebel Jais into an adventure and activity tourism hub, the rugged terrain already plays host to extreme climbing, hiking, driving and trekking enthusiasts.”
The standard and easiest course, the Ledge Walk, will take a group of up to eight adventurers around four hours to complete. It starts with a gentle climb through sedimentary rocks, goes into a vertical stretch which leads to the 50-metre zip-line which runs 20 metres above a ledge below.
A gradual slope then leads to the 60-metre zip-line, 70 metres above the nearest ledge before another path leads to 300-metre long zip-line for the journey back to the middle section. From here the return back to the wadi is about 225 metres long.
The middle, technical route – the Middle Path – will take around 3.5 hours and comprises three vertical sections and a horizontal traverse. It rises 60 metres from the wadi bed to join the Ledge Walk before the ?rst zip-line.
The route is aided by steel pedals and rungs and includes two overhang sections. After completing the Middle Path, guests continue on the standard route including the three zip-lines and a walk out.
The higher, vertical route – Julphar Scare – will take around 1.5 hours. This is the most direct route to the long zip-line. It’s a 120-metre ascent using ladders through five di?erent vertical sections with adjoining horizontal sections.
“All visitors will need to prove themselves on the standard course before being allowed on one of the more technical routes,” said Mattar. “It’s a unique opportunity to experience the dramatic Jebel Jais scenery at just under 400 feet – that’s the height of a 30-storey building.”
The new adventure is part of the emirate’s Vision 2019 Destination Tourism strategy and RAKTDA is now working with industry stakeholders to develop experience packages to also cover accommodation and travel.
“This is the first in a range of mountain, activity and adventure products we are developing specifically for nature and adventure seekers,” said Mattar.
“Already on the drawing board is the world’s longest zip-line and adventure park, which we are planning to launch in Q4 2017. We believe the Via Ferrata and our planned adventure tourism products will have strong appeal with both the domestic and overseas activity tourism and sports market.”
Tourist groups, who will be offered complimentary transfers from and to Manar Mall, Ras Al Khaimah, can choose from the three routes in twice-daily supervised tours starting at 8am and 1pm which come with a price tag of AED400.