We round up Team Time Out to take flight on the Jebel Jais zip line – a challenge like no other…
It’s a little bit of a jaunt outside of Dubai, and an eye-rubbingly early start for the brave adventurers from Team Time Out venturing to the UAE’s northern-most emirate to be among the first thrill-seekers to try out what has recently been crowned the world’s longest zip line. Guinness World Records certified it and everything – it’s official.
But being a record-breaker doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s another slightly shorter zip line somewhere in the world having a bit of a sulk. No. The previous record was held by the Toro Verde company for “The Monster” located in Puerto Rico, and that same green bull has set up shop in Ras Al Khaimah, bringing their talented staff, zip line expertise and rigorous (and reassuring) safety protocols to the UAE’s highest point.
The scale of the project is, of course, ambitious, and the 2.83km-long zip line is as long as it is stunning. It only takes a brief stop-off at the newly opened Jebel Jais Observation Deck for us to temporarily lose our breath gawking at the panoramic views on offer.
If the 1,650m ascent from sea level temporarily gets too much, stop off at this deck and grab a bite at the food truck, or take a look through those super-powerful binoculars and get a cracking view of the sea on one side and endless mountainous terrain on the other.
Make your way a little further up, however, and you’ll reach the Toro Verde welcome centre, and it’s at this point that you’ll waive away your life… if that’s not being overly melodramatic.
First comes the harrowing moment when us diet-dodgers come face-to-face with perfectly calibrated digital scales (seriously, we have no idea where those extra 3kgs came from). Through the fat-induced tears, we’re told that this invasion of our privacy is actually a crucial safety precaution. Thankfully our 90kg frame is deemed slender enough for this excursion.
Pre-harness you then sign about 400 hundred sheets of paper, which are, ostensibly, designed to tell you that you can’t sue them if you, hypothetically, stub your toe, get a hang nail, or plummet 400 metres to the bottom. “Inevitable injury”, the contract says… yikes.
While this waiver might not be the most reassuring of legal documents, and is certainly one of the least comforting reads we’ve had in a while, our collective knee-clattering is soothed slightly by the sheer volume of safety precautions we encounter upon the way.
At every stage, our journey is bookmarked with more harnesses, more locks, more straps and more checks. We won’t say it’s the most attractive attire we’ve donned recently, but we’re put at ease by the safety harnesses and “superman suits” we’re strapped into for the flight (and not “fluorescent body bags” as one Facebook user described them during our live broadcast from the summit).
Upon reaching said summit, you’re faced with quite possibly the best view you’re likely to encounter. Obviously this world is filled with many stunning vistas, and this is one to add to that list. It helped this zip liner realise that his apparent altitude-induced vertigo doesn’t apply to natural heights – like mountains, for example.
After a little bit of milling around, we’re ready to go, and five brave Team Time Out adventurers get ready to experience a world-first.
The helmet goes on. The superman suit is attached to the zip. You step forward on to the edge of a 400 metre drop. Your legs get a little bit weak, and you’ll probably say something regrettable as the moment nears. More hooks are attached to the zip and several safety precautions are put in place (still no giant net though, which would have eased our fears).
And before having the chance to respond, you’re off, rapidly picking up the kilometres per hour on your way towards a maximum speed of 150kph.
And instantly, any fear, nervousness or sense of impending doom that you may have had before, simply disappears. It’s replaced with exhilaration and a slight baffling of the senses. You expect to drop further as the mountain face steeps away from you, yet you continue your downwards trajectory at, let it not be understated, what is a sharp incline.
It may take a few moments to catch your breath and to adjust your vision through the wind, but once you do, the ride is glorious. Your temporary end goal comes into sight – a largely glass platform suspended by multiple anchors and cables – effectively floating next to the mountain face.
Having completed the world’s single-longest zip line in all its 2.8km glory, you shed your superman suit, rehook back onto the line, and go down the final 1km sitting up (but leaning back).
Once you land at the bottom (do NOT forget your helmet with accompanying GoPro camera) there’s further shedding and a minibus ride back to the welcome centre to grab your stuff, your footage, and a refreshment, and reflect on what you’ve just accomplished.
It’s invigorating, it’s kind of terrifying, but it’s one heck of a ride. From Dhs650 per person. Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, toroverdeuae.com/jebeljais.
Five facts about the Jebel Jais flight It’s 2,830m long It’s 1,650m above sea level The descent is 400m It’s a journey of two legs, totalling 3.8km It costs Dhs650 per person (not including the GoPro footage)