The complete guide to visiting Jebel Jais
Undoubtedly, some of the best views in the UAE – and the most impressive landscapes – are seen from Jebel Jais – the country’s highest mountain, standing 1,934 metres above sea level. The rugged and dramatic mountainscapes are breathtaking, sweeping across the Ras Al Khaimah terrain and linking the UAE with Oman’s Musandam Governate. In these northern reaches of the UAE – less than two hours from Dubai- life slows down, the terrain rises up, and visitors flock for outdoor pursuits and adventures like hiking trails, mountain biking, camping, mountain-top restaurants and cafes and the world’s longest zipline.
Where is Jebel Jais?
Jebel Jais lies in the northern reaches of the UAE, becoming travellers to explore a world of outstanding natural beauty and adventure activities. The mountain sits on the brother with Oman’s Musandam peninsula, an enclave known for its diving, fjords and rich history, and is home to the highest point in the UAE at 1,892 metres high. Jebel Jais’ summit, however, lies in Oman – where it’s 42 metres higher.
From Dubai, it’s just a two-hour drive to the landscapes and adventures of Jebel Jais, through a mountain road cut into the rock and through Wadi Haqil or Wadi Al Beeh. Because of this, it’s possible – and popular – for a day trip from Dubai or Sharjah, but also perfect for a weekend escape and tight in nature – thanks to its camping accommodations.
What to do in Jebeal Jais
The world’s longest zipline
At Jebel Jais, travellers will find the longest zipline in the world – the Jais Flight – one of the most daring and thrilling activities you can do in Jebel Jais and the Middle East as a whole. Strapped into a harness, partakers travel 2.8 kilometres at an incredible 120 to 160 kilometres an hour – which gives you three whole minutes to soak up the mountain’s outstanding natural beauty as you soar above. For those wanting more time to truly experience the beauty, there’s the two-hour Sky Tour – a five-kilometre course of six ziplines running from 337 to 1,000 metres and averaging a speed of around 60 kilometres an hour.
The Bear Grylls Explorers camp
Thanks to its hostile climate and landscape – with temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius in summer and water scarce – Jebel Jais is the perfect spot to practise your survivor skills, and at the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp, it’s possible to do just that. Open for overnight camping experiences and day survival courses, the adventure and survival site teaches visitors how to survive in the extremes – teaching keen outdoor adventures key life skills, along with being a great bit of fun for friends, families, and even team building.
Spread across the mountains, with a central public area, shop and charming cosy caravans (complete with air conditioning, fridges, private bathrooms and barbecues), the course was designed by the man himself, British adventurer Bear Grylls, and is implemented and taught by a highly trained team. Guess can choose from a four-hour crash course, family course and overnight course, teaching everything from making a fire and finding water sources to tying knots. Fun activities like abseiling and an aerial maze are also available, with children ages six and above able to participate in the fun.
The Jais Sledder
Perfect for those who’d rather not zip into a harness and shoot across the mountains, the Jais Sledder is a slower, more approachable way to get some stunning mountain views. The low-slung track runs for 1,800 metres, reaching speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour and taking two people eight minutes.
Hike and bike
With wadis, chasms and summits, Jebel Jais is the perfect landscape for a scenic hike – offering trails for all skill levels. Six official trails total 16 kilometres, each offering something different (meaning you can come back weekend after weekend). The Ghaf Summit (Jebel Jais Upper Trail) is a 4.3-kilometre walk that takes you to the highest point in the UAE, with the route easily signposted and has a gradual ascent and descent for beginners, while the 5.5-kilometre Samar Trail is a loop past ancient terraced farms.
Mountain biking is also popular, as Jebel Jais is one of the most magnificent spots for a cycling trip in the UAE. Hoist your bike onto your car and head out to explore three glorious cycling tracks – one biking amongst herbs of oryx in the dunes of Al Qudra, and another testing fitness skills with a high-octane and steep ascent up Jebel Jais. Some beautiful sights on the hiking trails include terraced farms, acacia trees, herds of goats, and much more.
Where to eat in Jebel Jais
For a seemingly remote part of the world, Jebel Jais offers some incredible dining, including the highest restaurants in the UAE. 1,484 metres above sea level, the aptly named 1484 by Puro is a nod to Dubai’s trendy coffee shops and restaurants, with a beautiful, airy and bright dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive outdoor terrace with killer mountain views. Everything from a great veggie burger to Thai beef salad and butter chicken is available. Elsewhere, popular sundowner spot The View by 1484 is located at the top of the Jais Aventure Park Centre and has a stylish outdoor lounge with views of the Hajar mountain range and serves light bites, beverages and a top breakfast menu.
Completing Puro’s domination of Jebel Jais’ dining is trendy snack spot Puro Express – located 1,300 metres above sea level and serving light bites throughout the day, like great coffee, slushies and treats like waffles and ice cream – complete with a beautiful viewing deck with views over the mountain range. Muse Cafe is the stop for coffee, a rustic, hole-in-the-wall type destination serving great coffee (from filter to cold press) and bites with an Arabic twist.
Where to stay in Jebel Jais
While it is possible to visit in a day, there’s nothing like staying overnight – or for a few nights – in Jebel Jais: breathing in the fresh mountain air, taking in the mountain vistas, connecting with nature and spending time with loved ones enjoying simple outdoor pursuits. Jebel Jais has a few great camping spots, with a few sites to pitch your own tent (though watch out for the odd curious goat or donkey).
For a structured, air-conditioned stay with top facilities and dining, book a cabin at the Bear Grylls Explorer Camp – with a selection dotted across the rugged terrain respecting the natural environment and offering peace and seclusion from other campers, but with a first aider and security on site. Guests don’t need to book onto one of the courses, but can instead just soak up the views, enjoy their private terrace and barbecue with the family. All 16 cabins sleep up to three people and come with a private toilet and shower, bunk beds, dining crockery and a barbecue set, but guests need to bring their own bedding, toiletries and towels. Charchao, firefighters, firewood, snacks and soft drinks can be purchased on-site from the shop. Cabins from AED400 a night (sleeping three); beargryllscamp.ae
Jebel Jais weather
Like the rest of the UAE, Jebel Jais experiences extreme and often hostile weather conditions, so it’s imperative to check the Jebel Jais weather before you plan your trip. The best time of year to visit the area is between November and April, when days are mild – though nights are rather chilly, so bring extra blankets and jumpers if staying overnight. The temperatures on the peaks are known to have dropped to – 5 degrees Celsius, and there have even been recorded snowfalls. Avoid visiting in the summer, where temperatures average around 40 degrees Celsius, and there are few air-conditioned spots or respite in the mountains.