Best camping spots in the UAE Part 1 | Jebel Jais

Come winter and camping is one of my favourite things to do in the UAE! Okay, to be honest, it's something we would do a lot more when younger, when most of my friends didn't have children and convenience wasn't everyone's top priority. Slowly, as they began to go the family way, we started to lose people who were happy to displace themselves from the comforts of their soft, cushioned mattresses and air conditioned homes to the adventures of sleeping on surfaces that aren't necessarily friendly to one's back or legs.

Soon, I was left with hardly any people who would be excited to wake up on a Friday (that's when our weekend here starts) and hit the road, drive to some remote, scenic locations, fire up a barbecue grill, open a bottle of wine, snuggle into a blanket and spend the night under the stars in a cozy tent. For almost 5 years, I did not go camping at all, even though I was itching to. Once the pandemic hit, and it became almost impossible to travel internationally, it once again became imperative to explore my home country, and find ways to stay motivated, challenged, excited and feed my adventure-hungry soul.

The best thing about the UAE is that it is one of the safest countries in the world so the idea of camping out in an isolated place in the depth of the Arabian desert or far away from the light pollution of the cities isn't a bad idea. The six months of winter, November to April, is also when the temperatures are moderate (it can get a little chilly in the night) so it's the best time for camping-enthusiasts to get active and explore. In October 2020, I bought myself a really cool tent-for-2, an inexpensive portable barbecue grill, convinced some still young (at heart) and adventurous friends to accompany me in exploring the best camping spots in the UAE.

Read more about 10 Things you must know before you travel to the UAE.

Jebel Jais

If you're a resident or a local here, you will not be surprised to see Jebel Jais at the top of my list of best camping spots in the UAE. There are, however, pros and cons to camping at the highest mountain peak in the country. Jebel Jais is a mountain of the Hajjar Range, which is shared between UAE (Ras Al Khaimah) and Oman, and is perhaps the coldest place in the country. Occasionally (3 times till date, to be precise), the mountain has seen some snow in the peak winters. So while the whole country is still reeling from a hot summer and the temperatures are beginning to drop a little but not enough, Jebel Jais, thanks to its elevation of 1,500 m above sea level, is lucky to have chilly evenings in the month of October. This is the most ideal time to camp here.

However, this is also the time when it is the most crowded, especially during weekends! Most residents, who have been shut indoors for the unbearable summer months, are finally out and about, and this is the coolest place to be! Luckily, the government has arranged for various parking/ camping spots so there is no dearth of options. But if you're looking to be 'isolated' and far away from the crowds, this is not your best option.

Driving distance from Dubai: 2.5 hours (approx)
Nearest city/ town: Ras Al Khaimah
Best time to camp: October / November or March / April (December - February can get really cold at night)

Here are some things you must keep in mind when camping at Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah:

  • The mountain peak is a 2.5-hour drive from the city of Dubai and can be reached only by car (there is no public transport that comes here)
  • The road up to the summit is winding, so be careful while driving. There are no street lights on the road once the ascent begins, so its best not to be driving here at night
  • There are Porta Potti (portable toilets) installed in several places. However, do not expect a high level of cleanliness from these
  • Some food trucks are available in the area which are open until late night. However, these only sell sandwiches, coffee and tea. For a proper meal, the highest restaurant in the UAE, 1484 by Puro, is an option but this closes at sunset so if you're camping overnight, make your own arrangements or be ready to survive on small bites
  • There are a lot of cops in the area, who are there to ensure that you do not leave a mess behind. Make sure to clean up after yourself!

  • The terrain is a little rocky so carry sleeping bags with you to keep the surface soft and comfortable while laying in a tent
  • It is not uncommon for people to visit Jebel Jais late night/ early morning to watch the sunset. This means, the place can be pretty busy and noisy through the night with people arriving and leaving at the most unsocial hours
  • The rules on carrying/ drinking alcohol in the UAE, in public spaces such as camping spots, is not very clear. You may carry your own and drink while you are there, but make sure not to create any problems or issues which could bring attention to you else the cops may reprimand you for it
  • The temperatures can drop here considerably as compared to the city, make sure to carry warm clothes and blankets to sleep in
  • Camping here is free

The rocky brown mountainous terrain of Jebel Jais might be an unusual sight for many people, but it is certainly a pleasant change from the busy cities and probably one of the few spots where nature lovers can get away from the hustle and bustle, to enjoy some fresh air, peace and (disputably) beautiful views. As a camping spot, there are facilities available and shops where you can buy charcoal, lighter fluid, etc in case you fall short. A perfect place for the amateurs who are new to camping, Jebel Jais also offers other activities such as hiking and adventure sports.

Read here about How to experience 15 world records in 4 days in the UAE.

Adventure Sports at Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais has recently become one of the most popular destinations for adventure enthusiasts due to the Jais Adventure Park that was opened in the last couple of years. It is home to the longest zipline in the world (certified by Guinness Book of World Records), claiming to reach speeds of up to 150 kmph (dependent on several factors of course, such as the wind speed, body weight, etc.). Ziplining enthusiasts can also experience the Jais Sky Tour, a series of 7 ziplines covering a total distance of 5km, providing a great birds' eye view of the mountains and the valley below.

Jebel Jais Zipline

A new activity recently introduced at Jais Adventure Park is the Jais Sky Maze, a challenging obstacle course 10meters above the ground that includes rope swings, wobbly bridges, swinging loops and more. Apart from this, Jebel Jais is also popular for hiking enthusiasts, with six unique marked trails at different levels of difficulty. It is also not uncommon to see cyclists scaling the mountains early in the morning. The adventure park is still quite new and is working on providing new experiences such as guided mountain climbing, ice skating rink etc.

Here's a list of things to experience at Jais Adventure Park:

  • The longest zipline in the world, Jebel Jais Flight
  • A series of 7 ziplines, Jais Sky Tour
  • An obstabcle course, Jais Sky Maze
  • Cycling (self-guided)
  • Hiking (self-guided but with 6 marked trails)
  • Mountain climbing by ViaFerrata (guided, coming soon)
  • Ice skating
  • Dining at one of the food trucks or the highest restaurant in the UAE, 1484 by Puro
  • Camping, of course (with toilets & other facilities easily available)

Read here about 10 day trips from Dubai worth taking.

41 thoughts on “Best camping spots in the UAE Part 1 | Jebel Jais”

  1. Wow! This looks incredible! I would love to try out so many things here. Hiking in the mountains is on my bucket list for sure. But zip lining would be fun 🙂

  2. You introduce me to so many new things about UAE. I was never aware of Jebel Jais and it seems to be really interesting. Camping there is free, that’s super catchy. Would love to try adventurous activities there.

  3. I had no idea camping in the UAE was a thing. I always assumed it would be way to hot for that. It’s an interesting idea I do love camping but usually in alpine mountain type of terrain. This is quite a contrast, I’d consider it! Thanks for sharing

  4. When I think UAE, I would never think camping. But I’m so glad I found this, because we are avid campers especially when it’s not the norm when travelling to a specific place. I will definitely bookmark this page so that when we go to UAE, we will try these spots. Jebel Jais looks incredible!

  5. It’s very recently that I came to know that there are wonderful opportunities of Camping in UAE. And now your post makes it evident that it certainly is. Jebel Jais looks a beautiful place. The look of the tents excites me and I do wish we can travel soon.

  6. Wow I never would have thought of camping in the UAE, it’s great to hear from another female that it is safe to Camp there. The zipline looks really fun too and definitely something I’d want to add to my trip there.

  7. This is amazing, I never thought that the UAE have this kind of adventure in store. You always think about those palaces and not necessarily of a….tent 😀 Although those constructions look amazing, I don’t know if I could go there since I’m very afraid of heights 😉 Nevertheless, definitely something to think of as soon as we can travel again.

  8. This looks so fun and the pictures are stunning! I would definitely want to try out the longest zipline in the world!

  9. That Adventure Park looks so awesome! That’s absolutely something I would want to do, especially the longest zipline in the world. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I had no idea there were such amazing camping areas in the UAE! Jebel Jais is truly beautiful and looks like there is so much to do there!

  11. Winter camping is pretty high up on my bucketlist! In Canada, our winter months range in temperature from 0 degrees to -30 degrees so it gets pretty cold! We also get several feet of snow so camping would be a real chore, but I still want to try it at least once!

    1. I can’t imagine camping in those temperatures honestly! Winter here in the UAE means pleasant 18-24 degrees and that’s the perfect weather to go camping in!

  12. The only place I have been to is Sharjah. So, I guess this does seem like a wish list holiday. However, I wonder if tourists are allowed to camp too or just natives can do that. The hike and cycling seem cool. I don’t have the stomach for ziplining though. But I agree, the UAE is really clean and lawful.

  13. When I think of UAE, my mind automatically wanders to Dubai, but it is great to see so many great camping and nature areas! I was just talking about camping with my daughter earlier today and was in the process of planning a camping trip. If I am able to make it to UAE, I would definitely consider these! The Jais Adventure Park sounds like a lot of fun, if I could work up the nerve to do it!

  14. I agree, camping during the pandemic is a great travel option. That zipline looks amazing. Not sure if I have that much courage though. I have turned into one of those people that likes a comfy bed now adays.

  15. I love everything about this article. Camping and zip lining. I have always wondered how it would be to camp in a dry mountain like this one, I am sure it will be dreamy. However, the most interesting thing for me would be to zip line on the world’s longest zipline. That would be a cool thing to do and I will add to my list.

  16. Oh I wish I was there to camp with you! I’m also running out of friends who haven’t gone the family way. Jebel Jais sounds like a good place for camping, although it can get crowded at times. As a newbie camper, I think I would want to be near people in case things go wrong. But I wish it was easy to reach by public transport ☹️

    1. I guess that’s the only downside.. not having public transport to the place. But I’m sure they’ll come up with something soon, with the increasing popularity of the place.

  17. To be honest, I’ve never thought of things outside Dubai in the UAE, but camping in Jebel Jais sounds like a great thing to do. The scenery looks amazing and I’m guessing you had a much wider window for camping given the climate. Adding this on my list of things to do!

    1. There’s a lot to do outside Dubai in the UAE. I wish people would look into exploring other emirates more often 🙂

  18. I agree with you, Medha, you need to put up with some inconveniences if you want to go camping. I used to love it when I was younger, but not anymore. It’s great that you still have fun in campings and you are open to trying new things. Your spirit of adventure amazes me though. I’m not so brave, lol!

  19. I love what you said in the beginning, that camping is for those who are okay with displacing themselves from comfort. I too love camping, but finding friends who want to take the adventure with me is always difficult! I would LOVE to try out some of these spots in the UAE… maybe I can finally convince a friend to go too!

    1. It really is difficult to find people who share your spirit of adventure, especially as you grow older!

  20. You can keep that zipline! Noooooo way would I get on that to have a play. Got this thing about heights, I know for a fact that if I ever go on a zipline that I may never survive. 😀 I never done camping in the UAE (or being to the UAE) but great tip about the air mattress. I have done some camping in Europe but never on rocky terrain so I bear that in mind if I ever do this in the UAE.

  21. I traveled to UAE in 2014 but I didn’t know there were camping spots. I slept in the desert for one night (with a friend) but it didn’t seem very popular for them to use a tent. However, Jebel Jais looks like a nice place so I am happy I have found about it.

    1. A lot has changed in the UAE in the past 6 years! You must return to see that for yourself 😉

  22. This is interesting. So far, I had only considered the UAE as a sport for 3 or 4 day layover on our way to the Maldives.
    The longest zipline in the world sounds fun, but I doubt that my wife would let us go on that one.

    1. It really isn’t as scary as it sounds 😉 Most people consider Dubai for a layover because they don’t realize that there’s a lot more to the UAE than just Dubai.

  23. Not sure I could handle the cold and the rocky terrain without an air mattress but I love camping so I would be down to explore Jebel Jais! Definitely sign me up for zip lining. How amazing that had to be to soar across those valleys! I think my wife would love the sunsets too. Your pics are awesome!

  24. I am hoping to visit the UAE at some point and am loving this blog. There are some very practical and interesting ideas here, thanks. Probably would never have known about this adventure park and zipline. Will follow you.

  25. This seems like a wonderful camping place. You have mentioned all the dos and don’t properly. So, while camping one can get a clear idea, what to do and what not to do? It is a well compiled informative article around Jebel Jais.

  26. Jebel Jais sounds like a great place to camp (in October, of course!). I’ve never really thought about doing things like camping in UAE – so interesting. It’s also a great tip to take something to lay on to avoid the rocky surface (fab tip for any camping trip). I’d love to visit and do some of the outdoor adventure things – it looks like a great spot to explore the beauty of UAE for sure!

  27. I have been to UAE a few times but never knew about this. Maybe next time, I will do this and ask my relatives living there if they want to join me. Sadly, they also have kids…hmm, maybe the kids would want to camp with me.

  28. It was great to read that because the UAE is so safe, you feel comfortable camping out in isolated places. I love the idea of visiting a great outdoor spot like Jebel Jais. Especially mid-week when the crowds might be smaller. I would definitely want to try the longest zipline in the world if I visited.

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