Ras Al Khaimah is the most visited emirate in the United Arab Emirates for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is where the highest mountain (Jebel Jais) of the country is located and more than a dozen of wadis hidden from mountain cathedrals. One of these wadis is the Wadi Shah, standing right next to Jebel Jais with an elevation of 730 meters and wind of around 8.1km/h west. It is ideal for hiking during the winter season which starts from December to April when the sun is not hot enough to burn the skin. The wadi is bone-dry during most months of the year, but when the rain comes, the pool is filled with water which flows down to the foot of the mountain. Although literally speaking, the mountains here are arid due to an insufficient amount of rainfall, but that doesn’t stop us from exploring the place because behind the barren mountains is the stunning scenic views.
The usual trail begins from the Jebel Jais mountain road parking down to the entrance of the wadi on the right, but a challenging trail is an opposite way around. The starting point is from the left side on the Jebel Jais mountain road which leads into an adjacent canyon and up to the slope and steep boulders, in short, the counterclockwise trail but following up a lot of scrambling and climbing through steep ascend. The first plateau can be reached for three hours depending on the pacing, where a date farm can be seen on the left side down under. Continue to trek for an hour following up a donkey trail passing a lot of cliffs to reach the second plateau, where a Bedouin cemetery is located. From the second plateau, another 30 minutes of ascending to reach the summit. Congratulations on reaching the summit! The summit is full of huge rough boulders but the view is mainly breathtaking.
For an adrenaline rush adventure, trek the opposite side of the peak during descending until reaching the cliff. There is a broken opening at the cliff side to use on your way down until reaching an even ground. Another way to go down is at the far left end of the cliff for a 90 degrees elevation descend – this is recommended for experienced and adventurous hikers.
A deserted Bedouin village with an empty water reservoir and farmland (most probably a livestock farm) can be seen in an even plateau. Continue scrambling down on the left side of the village to reach the huge boulder until reaching the pool of the wadi. Take a nap as this is the best place to rest.
Follow the path of the wadi for over an hour to go down into the starting point, but don’t be overconfident yet. The way is harder than it looks. There is a lot of jumping down and climbing up on the big boulders, just follow the red paint marked into huge rocks until reaching the end point.
- Technical Level: Moderate to Hard
- Endurance Level: Hard
- Hike Duration: 8 – 9 hours
- Round trip hike distance: 15 – 18 km
- Recommended hiking gears: 5 liters of water, proper hiking boots, Sunscreen protection, climbing gloves, waist-locked or camel backpack
Hiking starting point here: https://goo.gl/maps/9onX6E72D9B2
- Stunning scenic views
- Fossils (for the sharp-eyed)
- Bedouin village / Bedouin cemetery
- Mountain goats (amazingly resting on the cliffs) and donkeys
- Stone houses / rock terraces
- Rock formations