Feeling Supersonic

BY: Irwin B Fletcher
Thrill-seekers can now check one more item offtheir bucket list in Ras Al Khaimah while travellingover 120 kilometres per hour on a zipline
Living in the UAE, one becomes accustomed to the superlative edition of life.

You have the ‘oldest international chain hotel’ right here in Al Ain, the ‘tallest building in the world’ is in Dubai, and it just happens to sit next to ‘the largest mall in the world’ which also happens to contain the world’s ‘largest acrylic panel’ at the aquarium.

So, it was no surprise that at the start of February, Guinness World Records was back in the country – this time in Ras Al Khaimah for the launch of the tallest and longest zipline in the world.

Suspended 1,680 metres above sea level and covering 2.83 kilometres, the zipline spans the rocky chasm of Jebel Jais offering participants, or “pilots”, an unprecedented view from above as they zip along at over 120 kilometres per hour.

The zipline is operated by Toroverde Ras Al Khaimah, which manages and operates ziplines all over the world, including the previous record holder, the ‘Monster’, in Puerto Rico.

I found the entire experience to be very straightforward. We were given the body harness and helmets in the welcome centre with the available option of a GoPro if we didn’t have one.

Along with it came a backpack for each pilot, which carried all of the gear we needed for the frst run. They don’t allow you to take anything with you, however, if you do want to take a mobile phone, it can be concealed and kept safe in the small pocket of your backpack. Just remember to have a friend zip it completely closed when you’re done with your selfes.

Outftted with safety gear, we boarded a shuttle bus to take us to the launching platform. It is a rather steep climb to the precipice, and I found my stomach beginning to move upwards the closer we got to the top.

Once we arrived, the true scale of the length is fnally apparent – and yes, it’s a long way across. Looking across the vast openness, you can barely see the landing platform on the other side. The helpful staff of Toroverde unpacked our backpacks and we were then helped into the hammock-type thing that we would be riding in over the side of the mountain.

Pilots are suspended headfrst overlooking the cliff face for the frst leg of the journey, which takes about two or three minutes depending on weight and weather conditions. The frst cable is actually a dual zipline, allowing you to experience the whole ride literally alongside somebody or to simply race him or her to the frst landing platform.

Flat on my stomach, strapped in, and visor pulled down to protect any bugs from getting splattered across my eyeballs, I was simply told to “enjoy the ride” before the locking pin was pulled from my tackle. My Oasis Living colleague offered a very unhelpful ‘bye’ before I was soaring away from the mountain’s ledge slowly gaining speed up to 120 kilometers per hour.

The canyon slowly rolled away beneath me as the wind whipped my cheeks and I tried to keep my body as pointed as possible to ensure a safe arrival on the other side.

Suspended itself, the landing platform is the transferring location for the second half of the experience. You are helped down from the frst cable by more friendly staff and they repack everything for you back into your backpack. From the platform, you travel another kilometre to the fnal landing zone. Pilots on this run experience it in the more traditional ‘seated’ position and land standing on their feet, instead of their stomachs.

Once completed, a shuttle bus returns you to the welcome centre where you have your commemorative photo taken, along with getting a special patch designating your own specifc flight number which can be fxed to any item of clothing you have.

A memorable, if somewhat hair-raising, experience. Try it if you dare.


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