Dubai: If you thought you would have a leisurely time hiking up a mountain and enjoying nature in a zen-like way, think again. The world’s first Bear Grylls Explorers Camp on Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak of legs.
You know Bear Grylls right? This is the guy who drinks his own urine, bites fish heads off and can jump off a cliff into a random lake. Yeah, that’s him. So you can expect his survival camp to be a little bit like that.
The camp is supposed to teach practical and extreme survival techniques, from how to make a fire in the wilderness, to building emergency shelters and learning the best ways to use a knife for survival as well as remote medical trauma treatment, navigation techniques and extreme weather survival.
We woke up at the crack of dawn and headed into the mountains of RAK. Once there, we had a breakfast of grilled sausages and coffee. Starting off well already. We waited until there was more light in the sky and at 7.30am we were off. “These are your backpacks, no one will help you carry these, you carry them on your own,” the camp instructor shouted in a military-style manner. Many of these UK expert trained instructors are ex-military. They wouldn’t reveal too much about that.
We began our hike into the mountain and were asked to pick up speed any time we slowed down. This is what I loved about the experience. You aren’t coddled. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
For example, I learned how to create a beg out of a stick I found on the ground. I also learned how to tie multiple different knots including figure-eight knots, figure nine knots and something a bit more complex called the butterfly knot. Then we learned how to build a fire without a lighter or matches. We learned how to build shelter and then we had to eat worms provided to us by the camp instructors. (Disclaimer: Please don't eat worms. I only ate ones that were provided by the camp and were safe to eat.)
It was then time to sprint up the mountain using a rope to manoeuvre your way up. The running we had to do was always tricky, especially because these are real mountains. They are unkempt and bumpy terrain full of sharp-edged rocks.
And then came the scariest part. Heading back down via a scary-high abseil. Just looking down the mountain, I almost talked myself out of doing it. I was very worried about the hight, especially since you have to he somewhat horizontal.
This activity really encouraged me to really face my fear and push myself out of my comfort zone. I knew that once I was attached to the rope, I had to commit myself to it and go all the way down.
Bear Grylls is known worldwide as one of the most recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure. Famed for hit TV shows such as World’s Toughest Race, Running Wild, You Vs Wild and Man Vs Wild, SAS trained Grylls has taken a US President (Barack Obama) and Indias Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as many of Hollywood’s biggest names on survival journeys through the wilderness.
The survival courses, run by UK experts trained at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, launched this week and will offer half-day (3 to 4 hours), 8 and 24-hour options designed for adults and families and team building activities for corporate companies.
The element of surprise will be a key feature of all the courses. So expect the unexpected.
All packages are featured on beargryllscamp.ae with prices starting from Dh450 per person for the half day survival experience.