Middle Eastern adventures
By Adam Coulter | August 2018 | 5 minute read
It might be best known for its towering hotels offering seven-star service, but the Middle East is in a league of its own when it comes to adventure options. The region’s mountains, wadis, deserts, oceans, gorges, nature reserves and oases are the perfect playground for everything from hiking to scuba diving.
“The Middle East offers a great playground for adventure-based exploring, with popular activities including sand dune bashing in 4WDs, sand-boarding and skiing.”
JANET PARTON, SALES DIRECTOR, COSMOS
Just over an hour’s drive, but what feels like going back in time hundreds of years, lies the oasis of Hatta. Craggy mountain peaks, cooler air and a completely undeveloped environment makes Hatta perfect for mountain bikers, hikers, birders, kayakers and nature-lovers. Head to the Hatta Dam, where you can hire kayaks or paddle boats and go out into the middle of a reservoir.
Add-on: Book your client in at the Hatta Fort Hotel, a four-star property with 52 mountain view rooms, nestled in the heart of this rocky wilderness.
The team behind Yas Island has announced its latest project, CLYMB, which will bring the world’s widest flight chamber and tallest indoor climbing wall to Abu Dhabi towards the end of 2018. Visitors will be able to mimic the experience of skydiving within a width of 9.75 metres (32 feet) and tackle a 43-metre climbing wall. Add on a day trip to the Liwa Oasis on the edges of the Empty Quarter for sand skiing.
Sell it: Etihad Holidays has five nights at Radisson Blu Hotel Abu Dhabi Yas Island. It's from £579pp, based on two adults sharing a standard room including breakfast, return flights and a 30-minute flyboarding session.
This little-known emirate provides a glimpse into how neighbours Dubai and Abu Dhabi once were. It also boasts the world’s longest zip wire, which opened in February this year. Almost three kilometres long and reaching speeds of almost 100mph, the experience is literally breathtaking. Adding to the fun is that there are two lines side by side, so you can race your mates!
Top tip: RAK offers luxury at an extremely affordable price. Five-star hotels include the Waldorf Astoria, where rooms start from £176.
Oman’s mountains reach heights of 2,000 metres and are ideal for hiking. Open since January 2017, are Via Ferrata, mountain routes with fixed wire cables, metal rungs, and ladders which allow climbers to ascend steep rock faces without having to carry heavy mountain climbing equipment. The mountains are stunning, rugged and barren, but studded with green terraced fields and dotted with small villages. Alternatively, suggest a scuba diving adventure in Musandam in the far north with a stay at the Six Senses Zighy Bay Hotel.
Sell it: Explore has a nine-day trip from the mountains of Jebel Akhdar to the Wahiba Sands including visits to Nizwa and Muscat. Priced from £1,629pp, the deal includes flights, accommodation with breakfast and some additional meals.
For scuba divers looking to try something a little different, the Kingdom offers a unique excursion – pearl diving. There’s a choice of four sites, each with an abundance of oysters. Divers are able to collect up to 60 oysters from the Gulf seabed – and if they find a pearl they can keep it! Ras Rayyah, the northern tip of Muharraq Island, is the departure point for all pearl diving activities.
Add on: For land lubbers, suggest riding on a pure blood Arabian horse – on the beach.
For a small country Qatar has a lot to offer: Take a 4WD desert safari and stop off at Khor Al Adaid (Inland Sea) – one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert. Explore the mangroves by snorkelling or kayaking. Or try a Skydive using a parachute system built for two.
Sell it: Jetset Holidays is offering overnight stays at the four-star Mercure Grand Doha City Centre Hotel. Proces are from £178 a night, on a B&B basis in a Superior Room. This price includes a private half-day desert safari experience.
Jordan is perfect for cycling, with both excellent roads (where you’re more likely to see a camel than a car), and off-road trails. The country has a lot to see and do in a small area: the Dead Sea, the Mujib Reserve, the River Jordan, Wadi Rum, salt flats and the rose city of Petra – all accessible by bike.
Sell it: Globus’ seven-day ‘Passage to Petra’ escorted tour is from £1,865pp including excursions like a 4WD trip, flights, accommodation, some meals and VIP private home pick-up service.