RAK’s Via Ferrata mountain zipline to be expanded
One of the most thrilling experiences in the country is set to be expanded as tourist demand soars.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) is investing in the expansion of the its highly-successful Jebel Jais Via Ferrata (Iron Path) adventure challenge in the Hajar Mountains, the only commercial product of its kind in the UAE.
Since its launch in December 2016, strong demand for mountain experience, which has seen 1,500 enthusiasts climb, trek and zipline almost 400 feet above sea level on Jebel Jais, has led to the extension of the inaugural season until the end of May. The decision to renovate and expand the capacity for the attraction, which will re-open in October 2017, will enable RAKTDA to cater to the increased demand from corporate and group bookings.
“The Jebel Jais Via Ferrata has been a resounding success and has attracted a range of sporting enthusiasts from throughout the [Arabian] Gulf and Europe,” said Haitham Mattar, the RAKTDA chief executive. “The product already occupies a second-place ranking on TripAdvisor for the emirate’s attractions – the first going to Jebel Jais as an attraction in itself.”
“In its first month, the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata achieved an average booking capacity of 81 per cent, rising to 94 per cent on weekends,” said Mr Mattar. “The attraction’s popularity highlights the appetite for experiential and active adventure sports products which Ras Al Khaimah, with its diverse landscapes of desert, coast, hot springs and mountains, is superbly placed to fulfil.”
Jebel Jais Via Ferrata is the first in a range of experiential mountain and adventure products RAKTDA is looking developing specifically for active adventurers and wellness seekers on the UAE’s highest peak. The authority has already revealed plans to launch the world’s longest zipline on the mountain, which rises to 1,934 metres and borders Oman, in the fourth quarter of this year in addition to an observation deck and new mountain and hiking routes.
“Jebel Jais is popular with visitors looking for hiking and trekking excursions, and we welcome amateur and professional adventurers, with specialist guides, at hiking and cycling events every year. With the zipline, cycling tours and unique accommodation options currently being planned, the potential for activity, nature and adventure-based tourism market is huge,” Mr Mattar said.
Ras Al Khaimah’s kilometre-long Via Ferrata is unique in that it comprises three individual start and finish points, and three zip-lines ranging from 165 feet, to 195 feet to 985 feet, for various age and fitness capabilities. Adventure-goers, who are offered complimentary transfers from the Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah, are able to choose from the three routes, in twice-daily organised and supervised tours. The beginner course, the Ledge Walk, takes the average group of eight around four hours to complete. The middle, technical route – the Middle Path – takes around 3.5 hours and the higher, vertical route – Julphar Scare – takes around 1.5 hours.
Minimum age and weight restrictions apply for challengers who must be at least 12 years old and weigh at least 6.5 stone and no more than 15.5 stone. Challengers over 65 years of age may be asked for a doctor’s clearance before being accepted.
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