I went to Al Ain for the nth time last Eid Al Adha. I seldom re-visit places, but Al Ain is an exemption. It is my favorite destination during the holidays because of three reasons:
- Public transportation is cheap and easy.
- A place to spend the night was never a problem since we have a friend who lives there.
- Al Ain is known to be the "Garden City of the Gulf", need I say more?
I think, my husband probably wants to add a fourth reason: Extreme Fun at Wadi Adventure!
Wadi Adventure is a newly opened tourist attraction in Al Ain. It is situated at the foot of the Jebel Hafeet mountain. The park has a man-made river for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It also has a pool with man-made waves for surfing. Basically, everything is man-made, but it is a piece of paradise for us. We live in the desert for several years and we have never tried rafting and surfing in the Philippines. Wadi Adventure was built to make our dreams come true!
We got the park's Eid al Adha regular package for 250AED per person. The package inclusions were the admission fee, rafting, airpark, zipline, wall climbing, use of swimming pool and splash park. Before the fun began, we signed a waiver stating that we are aware of the risks involved in water sports. Honestly, the hazards never crossed my mind. I saw some photos at Wadi's Facebook Page, rafting seems fun rather than risky.
I was too excited, but fear slowly took over as I read the writings on my waterproof bracelets: RAFT, AIRPARK, CLIMBING. The getaway was never a sweet escape for me. I think I should change my blog to "Lady and her Extreme Escape" for the moment.
When we got inside the park, we were so delighted to see a great view of God's wonderful creation and Man's product of innovation. The majestic Jebel Hafeet mountain served as a beautiful back drop to the amazing man-made water park!
Our schedule for the rafting session was at 10 AM. Prior the actual thing, we watched a short video on river rafting, the basics, the risks and the safety precautions. I trembled as I watched the video of people falling from the raft. I hoped and prayed it won't happen to any of us.
We were then assisted to a station where we wore our life vests and helmets. Protected? Not so! We were not advised to bring water shoes (not really sure of the exact name). So, we went rafting barefoot!
There are two river channels for rafting at Wadi Adventure, one for the beginners and the other for the real extreme whitewater rafting experience. Our guide gave us tips and explained the basics of rafting. We, then, went to the beginner's channel. It was fun, few bumps, slow rapids... it was easy peasy! We were all so excited to move up to another level. So, after one round at the easy area, we went to raft at the extreme channel.
It was adrenaline-rushing! There were several cascades and the water current was strong. Everything was great until our raft tumbled in a man-made waterfall. All six of us fell in rapids. That moment, I knew I must not be a Damsel in Distress and not wait for my Prince Charming to rescue me. A lifeguard threw a rope for me to hold on to, I grabbed it and I was pulled to the side. After almost minute, I was happy to see Ed and my friends at the river bank, safe and sound! I was still in shock, but my thrill-seeker husband was still hyped to finish the extreme ride. Six of us started the rafting, only three were able to conquer the rapids in the end.
I still can't figure out what went wrong. It might be because we had wrong positions, weight was not distributed well in the raft. It might also be because of one wrong move, we were told to paddle in a water cascade. After the incident, we were assisted to the First Aid Point. All of us had cuts and bruises, but it was not enough to ruin our day.
To shake off the tension, we rested in a cabana for an hour. We gazed at the breathtaking view, watched the man-made waves and even took a short nap.
The moment I got my holiday groove back, Ed and I went to the splash pool. The geysers of cold water were so refreshing. I ran and jumped around, totally forgot about the rafting accident and my wound.
After the midday nap, we went to Surf's Cafe for lunch. The restaurant offers great food in big servings. Ed and I shared a pasta and a sandwich. Prices are reasonable, 55 AED for the Homemade Lasagna and 35 AED for the Club Sandwich.
I was surprised when our lunch came. I was actually expecting my sandwich to be in a disposable container, served like a typical theme-park food. Surf's Cafe exceed my expectations. Our food were beautifully arranged, just like meals in a fine-dining restaurant.
Lunch was heavy, so we decided to take another break at the cabana and had a crazy, fun time at the surf pool. Big thanks to Ed for the photos!
|lounging at the cabana|
|crazy bunch at the Surf Pool|
Our package did not include the surfing lessons. Ed wanted to try, but the classes were fully booked until 7 pm! Surfing costs 100 AED per person, prior booking is a must as they only cater lessons for 3 or 4 people per hour!
Our next stop: Airpark! The Airpark is a 3-level wooden structure with an obstacle course, a giant swing, a wall climbing facility and a Zipline heading to the other side of the park.
We started our airpark adventure with the easiest part, the zipline. We wore our body harness and helmets with the assistance of the staff. Since we did not bring rubber shoes, he gave us over sized Crocs. I think it was a size 40! We didn't had a choice but to wear the super big rubber footwear.
The zipline's start off point was at the Airpark's 3rd level. The view from the top was such a treat!
I was really nervous, but I never thought of backing out. I have this love/hate relationship with extreme stuff. I love the adrenaline rush, but hate the tension! To my surprise, Zip-lining is actually fun, not so extreme. I didn't even felt the urge to shout!
I also had a short stint at the wall-climbing area... very short actually! :) Blame it on the over-sized, super uncomfortable footwear, plus the fact that I'm really not the sporty type! I think I just climbed 5 steps, then I gave up.
I decided not to go through the obstacle course. Yah, call me frail if you want to! I just knew I couldn't handle the tension anymore. So, there I was on the ground, on my usual cheerleader-mode as I watched my husband and a friend walked through the wire, the net and the hanging wooden structures.
The heart-pounding stunt at the airpark was not enough for the thrill-seekers. They also rode the giant swing. They were tied up in a big log which swung back and forth. They said it was fun, but I'm pretty sure they were scared as well. I heard a lot of arghhhhhhs and wahhhhhhs until the ride stopped completely.
We bid goodbye to Wadi Adventure as the sun sets. It was a day of mixed emotions. I vowed never to do whitewater rafting ever again. I'd like to go back though. I might sign up for surfing lessons and kayak in the easy river channel next time. We went home with cuts and bruises, and with an amazing story to tell.
Check out Wadi Adventure's website for the park's current rates and promotions