We brought in the New Year, 2016 with the resolution to travel the world like carefree birds all round the year and discover our true selves during one of such travels. Well, it was another drunken New Year’s Eve, I admit it. As we stumbled into our daily routines during the month, being a responsible, busy, and broke couple, we didn’t really let our resolution be pushed back into the closet. Every adventure does’t need an expensive flight ticket or a chunk of our non-existent savings. So we decided to make the most of our own surroundings. It was as simple as fuelling up the car to hit the road. We planned out two weekend getaways, first to Jebel Hafeet – the second highest mountain peak in the U.A.E and the next to Jebel Jais – the highest mountain peak in the U.A.E.
Destination 1: Jebel Hafeet
We decided to explore in ascending order and chose to explore the second highest peak in the U.A.E. before we scaled the highest. It was a slight hazy Friday morning when we left from Dubai. We were driving towards Al Ain and the haze just got worse. After driving for nearly an hour and a half we reached the final climb. Flanked by ghostly silhouettes of queerly shaped peaks, the road uphill was wide and smooth. I squinted to get a better look and excitedly pulled down the window to get clearer pictures, resulting in a mouth full of dust and itchy eyes.
The road was desolate but was under the sharp eyes of the falcons circling above. As we meandered up the hill we crossed a number of viewing points, but the view from each one was a white sheet of nothingness. I’m sure had it been a clear day, there would have been a lot to see and admire. But it just wasn’t our day. We hoped it would look better once we reached the top, but the haze just got thicker. Apart from the nearest peak we could barely see beyond. The top of the peak too seemed pretty much deserted sparing a few other weekenders, and that gave us some quiet moments to hark the eerie howl of the wind. There was an old fashioned canteen with limited food options. Its surroundings were not very appealing, with casually thrown garbage. Some broken squeaky swings creaked noisily as a few children played around. The place had a peculiar edge to it which made me feel calm yet a bit uneasy. We hung around a bit and then climbed back in the car with a head full of tangled, messed up hair.
As our car rolled down the hill we admired the road but struggled to get just one chance to experience a clear view. It was an interesting drive and quite a different landscape but honestly there was nothing much we could do there. Yes, the weather wasn’t the best. But even if there was no dust and crazy wind, we really wouldn’t have spent more than an hour at Jebel Hafeet.
Destination 2: Jebel Jais
The next Friday morning was thankfully a clear sunny day. For Jebel Jais we were to drive towards Ras Al Khaimah and it was little more than two hours from Dubai according to Google Maps. We had the right music and a favourable weather, so we were looking forward to a cracking drive.
As we were nearing our destination, we were amazed by the unstirred, immaculate beauty of the concrete landscape. We could see the towering wall of mountains in front of us and then in no time we plunged right through the cracks. With every bend we let out another gasp of surprise or admiration, and we just couldn’t help but stop every fifteen minutes to take some photographs and of course lots of selfies 🙂
As we delved deeper into the rocky maze, we spotted many families and groups who had claimed their spots and were enjoying a relaxing picnic. By the time we reached the top we realised that there was a massive crowd of campers and picnickers fully equipped with tents and barbecues. There was a single food truck and a tiny tea stall, barely reachable because of the gaggle of visitors. The chatter was loud and cheery and was accompanied by head bobbing beats blaring from the truck. The place was packed and lively, and we did manage to squeeze in to place our order. Soon, with steaming hot shawarmas and deliciously crisp fries we found ourselves the perfect spot to enjoy our picnic. With a spectacular view, lip smacking fast food, and perfectly chilly breeze; the worries of the sudden, rampant traffic and crowd were forgotten and we just stared at the still rocky formations that stood tall and proud. The hue of the sky changed and we climbed a bit higher. The population below seemed immense but all we could see was beyond those peaks…the sky, the peace.
In comparison, Jebel Hafeet was definitely quieter and placid, but Jebel Jais was serene despite being hugely popular and infested with tourists. The landscape and the drive were definitely more interesting and scenic at Jebel Jais, well of course after all it is the highest mountain peak in the U.A.E. I don’t regret going to Jebel Hafeet, but Jebel Jais is somewhere I would love to go again and again 🙂