Reach New Heights

It’s often said, ‘Go where you feel alive’. Keep­ing that spirit in mind Alila Ja­bal Akhdar re­cently or­gan­ised Reach Your Peak, an ex­clu­sive ad­ven­ture trip, where one could not only feel the sub­lime rush of adren­a­line but also watch the breath­tak­ing beauty

HI Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - STORY SHRUTHI NAIR

Idis­cov­ered some­thing in life some time ago — you can be alive and you can feel alive. And th­ese are com­pletely dif­fer­ent things. There are a few things that make me feel com­pletely alive, where my senses are height­ened, all the happy hor­mones are re­leased, and the world feels like an awe­some place to be. It usu­ally hap­pens when I feel an adren­a­line rush — that in­sane feel­ing of fear, ex­cite­ment, and ec­stasy and the even­tual re­lease.

I usu­ally get that feel­ing when I’m live on air, but the only other time I feel as ‘alive’ is when I’m try­ing an ex­tremely chal­leng­ing ad­ven­ture sport. I’m not the fittest per­son, but I never turn down an op­por­tu­nity to try some­thing new. So when I was ap­proached with the Reach Your Peak pro­gramme, I jumped on the chance.

Alila Ja­bal Akhdar, one of my most favourite des­ti­na­tions in Oman, or­gan­ised the Reach Your Peak jour­ney, an ex­clu­sive ad­ven­ture trip that ju­di­ciously uses Oman’s one-of-its-kind land­scape to give all adren­a­line junkies and fit­ness freaks a heavy dosage of every­thing they crave for.

The trip started from Mus­cat on Thurs­day where I was driven all the way to the Green Moun­tain, which although is the same coun­try but feels like a to­tally dif­fer­ent na­tion in it­self. This was my sec­ond time in Ja­bal Akhdar, and like the pre­vi­ous time I couldn’t con­tain my ex­cite­ment as the car kept go­ing up­wards and the tem­per­a­ture pro­por­tion­ately kept get­ting cooler. In about half an hour, I saw the stoney ho­tel clus­ters and fi­nally the board that said Alila ap­peared. Yes, I was here. As soon as I got down, I took a minute to ab­sorb the view around me — of the sun’s rays play­ing on the leaves of the shrubs, the beau­ti­ful re­sorts en­trance and the ma­jes­tic moun­tains guard­ing the en­tire area. What a sight!

As I en­tered and went straight to the Ju­niper restaurant, the seats of which over­look the cliff, I joined a few other ladies who had just fin­ished their yoga ses­sion. They were hav­ing in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tions about en­ergy and vi­bra­tions and chant­ing Hindu mantras like ‘Om Gam Gan­pataye Namah’ that blew my socks off. The early morn­ing yoga clearly had an ef­fect on all of them — they looked calm and peace­ful and most im­por­tantly happy to be there. I wouldn’t even ex­pect oth­er­wise as the nat­u­ral en­ergy flow­ing in the place is mag­i­cal — adding to that spir­i­tual prac­tices and ex­er­cises, I could only imag­ine be­ing trans­ferred to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent realm.

Af­ter some de­li­cious egg bene­dict and cof­fee to wade my tired­ness off, I went up to my room with a view of the in­fin­ity pool and the in­finite­ness of the moun­tains and val­leys. I quickly went down dressed in my sports wear and shoes and loads of sun­screen all prepped for what awaited me down be­low.

I was stand­ing at the edge of the cliff feel­ing my heart pound, a small bead of sweat trick­led down my face and slowly I took a few steps for­ward. No, I wasn’t plan­ning to jump off the cliff, not with­out my cara­bin­ers at least. Hold­ing tightly onto the rope and as I was told “trust­ing it com­pletely” I kept mov­ing for­ward slowly un­til I was almost per­pen­dic­u­lar to the ground de­pend­ing com­pletely on the rope run­ning along the moun­tain to keep me stand­ing.

As I kept mov­ing deeper into the val­ley, it started get­ting qui­eter, save the sound of my pant­ing and oc­ca­sional grunts and per­pet­ual pant­ing. It’s weird how it felt like med­i­ta­tion although the adren­a­line was gush­ing like no man’s busi­ness. Up, down, and across — I wouldn’t say I kept strid­ing, but I took care­fully cal­cu­lated steps us­ing all of my limbs and mus­cles and brain to go across the most dif­fi­cult and ex­cit­ing path I’d ever taken. I would stop oc­ca­sion­ally to catch my breath but would be breath­taken by the view and just the very idea that I was right in the mid­dle of this gor­geous view.

Through slip­pery, rocky, muddy ter­rain I reached a sur­face that had sin­gle steps to hold and step on that led me to the cave, out of which came four lines — two on the side to hold, one on top for the cara­bin­ers and one to walk on. Yes, just one line, one shaky, swiv­el­ling line on which I had to walk to get to the other side.

And oh, you know what’s un­der­neath? Noth­ing for a few hun­dred me­tres so don’t even think of look­ing down. How­ever, once you cross the bridge and go back up the moun­tain and com­plete the en­tire cir­cuit, the sense of ac­com­plish­ment and pride you will feel will keep you smil­ing and buzzed for the en­tire day. I felt like a fear fac­tor win­ner once I got back to the top where I started from and let out the loud­est scream just to hear it echo back.

I was so glad to have done this at Alila, the place with the best spa, be­cause that is ex­actly what I needed af­ter this rig­or­ous bat­tle with the moun­tain and my fears. I opted for a detox­i­fy­ing mas­sage that sent me into a trance for 60 whole min­utes and I felt all re­ju­ve­nated when I came out ready for an­other bat­tle. Okay, not re­ally.

How­ever, I did try out the archery there in the open and I some­how man­aged with­out hurt­ing any­one with my bad aim. A few good shots, too many hor­ri­ble ones later, I walked back to my room and on my way ad­mir­ing the unadul­ter­ated beauty this place be­holds with so much to of­fer to peo­ple look­ing for seren­ity, ad­ven­ture, re­lax­ation or just some time away from the con­crete jun­gle and the me­chan­i­cal mess that our lives have be­come.

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