Surveying the activity village like a wise owl is a serene space with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic view. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Nahyan's personal viewing deck (and of course the best view in the house), you can see why the crown prince of Abu Dhabi would come here. It's an amalgamation of mountainous solace and action-packed drama (kind of like your very own UAE soap opera).
Our first challenge is white water rafting. We strap up and hop on board following a safety briefing. soon realising we may have bitten off more than we can chew… To our (foolish) encouragement the instructor takes no prisoners and after a knuckle biting flip I find myself in a recurring nightmare— underwater, eyes open, but unable to reach daylight. After what seems like a minute (but is in fact probably more like 15 seconds) and panicked voices, terror subsides when I feel a mighty tug on my life jacket, tenaciously hoisted back into the boat like a newborn in a BabyBjorn. My refusal to be defeated so early in the day is followed by a discerning check over, as we unremittingly set off on another rapid. (For those harrowed by the prospect of this, it's not a common occurrence). As instinctive as it is to try and stand when we capsize, I realise how crucial the safety position is and following a tumultuous and action packed hour of bracing, exhilaration and laughter, we head for shore to dry off.
Sun loungers and comfy daybeds are dotted around the park and after a lunch break we head for the waves. Our instructor; a surfer from the age of six (mandatory PE growing up on Australia’s Gold Coast) humours us, taking into account our improvised 'techniques'. The waves are more powerful than they look, reaching nearly three and a half metres high and emerging every 90 seconds. The stronger surfers paddle to the back to catch the full velocity, while the less experienced are encouraged further forward…
After enjoying the surf we dispatch for a hot shower, a change of clothes and set out to the Air Park. Beginning to realise my enthusiasm for conquering all the activities is waning (not through lack of wanting but sheer exhaustion), something tells me that this may not be the first time visitors' mighty intentions have been quashed by the elements. The 15 metre climbing wall looks impressive, but no match for us. That is until I get half way up and dauntingly look down, a wave of emptiness in my stomach (and I'm told I have taken the easy route)... The PGL school trips eventually pay off and I shimmy down with the ease of a pro. Well almost…
The aerial adventure course is harder than it looks but as one of our group has a fear of heights, it is sadistically his reaction that enhances the experience, while gripping onto the safety wire and balancing on a rotating wooden pole with the grace of a logrolling grisly bear. Next we head to the swing (don't underestimate the nostalgic semblance). This huge wooden device builds up tension as you are heaved back and then abruptly released forward. Ejected with the speed of a roller coaster, swinging and then eventually slowing (reminiscent of a theme park Pirate Ship). Adrenaline, excitement and then nausea… Last but not least the 14 metre high, 200 metre long zip line. A triumphant finish to our action packed adventure. As Arnie would say, “I’ll be back.”
138th St, Al Ain
03 781 8422