There is nothing comparable to the experience of traveling: The exhilarating feeling of discovering a new place, meeting new people, and embarking on adventures you know you’ll never have the opportunity to explore at home while you’re in your routine.
If you’re an avid traveler, step outside your comfort zone. There’s a whole world for you to explore that’s beyond the ordinary: lazing around on the beach of a fancy hotel and indulging in food and drink till you feel the need to go on a diet when you’re back home, or, as most popular choices tend to be, frequenting your summer spot in [insert country of choice here] and living like the part-time local you’ve become over the years; comfortable and familiar.
The travel routine can be broken! Rahhalah offers an all-inclusive service for everything in between your departure and return flights to ensure that you have the experience of a lifetime, catered specially for you and your travel group.
There are two ways to go about a Rahhalah trip: the first being a bespoke trip where you select your destination, duration of stay, activities of choice and type of accommodation (ranging from being a guest in a local’s home, hostels, to 7 star hotels and resorts.) Your other option with a Rahhalah trip is to go with the flow and sign up for your prepackaged adventure of choice! Are you an avid hiker? Then you should experience the trails of historic Jordan, which includes trekking through Petra, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib and the Dead Sea.
Rahhalah’s trip itineraries are rated at different levels, ranging from easy, moderate to challenging. An easy to moderate level trip, for example, would be a Northern Lights trip, part of the 7 Wonders of Rahhalah packages. A trip like this would include snowshoeing, skiing, trekking, adventures with Huskies and stargazing. Another example of easy level experience would be a Machu Picchu Adventure trip, where you’d only take on activities like cultural sightseeing and nature/bird watching. The opportunities are endless!
Something to keep in mind with the Rahhalah trips is that they aren’t designed to be lazy and overly touristic, and after meeting the founders of the group, we can see why. Adventure mavens and co-founders Suzanne Al-Houby and Zed Alrefai, both proudly share titles as the First Arab woman and man to reach the summit of Everest and to climb the seven summits (the highest mountain on each continent). The two decided to join forces and start this adventure travel business in Dubai in 2011, promising the Middle East a new way of looking at travel.
“Reaching the top of Everest after 51 days of gruesome climbing in the most dangerous conditions one can imagine is simply a larger than life experience.” Suzanne reflects. “I stood tall and proud and I felt that I have earned it. No words can describe that for those few moments, I was the highest person on earth! At that moment, it was a very personal achievement and it wasn’t about the title or the record. The fact that I opened the way to break certain taboos and to inspire others to dream big is priceless to me!” Suzanne’s achievements leave no mystery behind the fact that she herself likes to accompany Rahhalah travelers on more challenging adventures. Being not only the first Arab woman, but the first Palestinian to achieve this goal gives her a unique value that poses as encouraging, making her the ideal group leader on trips where more strenuous activity will take place. “I do lead many of our trips in different continents. I prefer to go on the challenging and hard core ones as I feel I have a lot of value and experience to make these trips unforgettable.”
If you’re the type who craves ‘hardcore’ adventures, along with Suzanne, you’ll likely find Rahhala’s co-partner, consultant and the team’s resident ‘Lucky Charm’ Zed accompanying you. Zed’s travel motto is to fully immerse himself in every country he visits, and is passionate about meeting new people and exploring different music, food, languages and culture during these trips. “Traveling makes you change the way you look at life, people and nature, and makes you appreciate everything you have,” he explains. But to Zed, adventure doesn’t stop there! He’s fully equipped and passionate about trekking as well: “it was my dream to summit mighty Everest, and it still feels like a dream. I felt ecstatic and still feel the shivers every time I think about it.” And after this milestone, trips to Everest Base Camp with Rahhala as well as Kiliminjaro and Machu Picchu have become regular spots for him to frequent with other travelers.
Another key person that completes the Rahhala experience is Managing Partner Samer Abu Dagga, who holds down the fort in Rahhalah’s Kuwait City office. Samer’s adventure resume boasts achievements such as reaching the highest peak in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro), the highest peak in Europe (Mount Elbrus), and trekking to Everest base camp. With his experience and calm and collected demeanor, he too makes an ideal leader to have on Rahhalah’s team – and manages to accompany travellers on most of their trips! “It’s important to seek adventure as it takes you out of your comfort zone, connects you to nature and inspires you to challenge yourself.” He states. “Also, people have no idea what they’re capable of. I’ve seen many people who wanted to give up while trekking, but with a little bit of motivation, they manage to push through. Your mind is more powerful than any other part of your body will ever be.” We all know who we’d like to have with us while hiking through the jungles of the Amazon!
But don’t worry, Rahaalah isn’t only about extreme adventure, and not all of their guides are pushing you to get to Kilimanjaro or Everest’s base camp. If you’re taking on a more low-key adventure, you might run into mellow Stani Aziz, Rahhalah’s Operations Manager, who has been known to sometimes accompany travelers on their trips, especially those that focus around the serenity that adventure can offer. Trips that have stood out in her book are places like Sri Lanka, Greece, Tanzania and Croatia, all of which are destinations that Rahhalah has itineraries for. “So far I have not climbed a mountain, or been on a very challenging adventure; for now, I consider parasailing as my biggest adventurous activity.” She chuckles sheepishly, “but I think it is important for people to travel adventurously, as it broadens horizons, builds confidence, fosters 50 curiosity, makes you dream, improves your physical health – in a sense, you become a better person!”
Perhaps most importantly, the ultimate goal behind a Rahaalah trip is to better one’s self, to the point where they have a whole section of journeys dedicated to doing so. Other than beautiful, adventure-filled organized trips and luxury travel itineraries, they offer transformational programs, where groups of people join a retreat that promises to transform their outlook on life. These retreats range from trips to the North: Alaska, the South: Peru, East: Bornea, and West: Morrocco. Carefully selected by the Rahhalah team, these locations have been chosen in accordance to the teachings of the shamanic Medicine Wheel, where these four directions in a person’s life represent the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. They are designed to help you discover untrodden tracks and well-hidden treasures along the way, but most importantly, guarantee you to travel on the path of self-discovery, which will unveil answers to lingering questions and truths long forgotten. After venturing on these journeys, you will definitely return rejuvenated with a whole new outlook on life, and come back a changed person.
Even more basic trips offer room and encouragement for self improvement and reflection. Each Rahhalah itinerary offers teamwork and group bonding with communal meals and downtime, and the Rahhalah team vehemently agrees that transformations do occur. “One of the best things about these trips is seeing how people change!” says Suzanne. “They always transform in one way or another.”
Rahhalah also joins forces with organizations such as Ali Abdulwahab & Sons and LOYAC, who sponsor youth programs to different Rahhalah destinations. During these trips, teens and young adults alike go on journeys that strengthen their character and broaden their horizons. They meet people, experience the culture as locals by visiting locals and bonding with them, have meals in family homes, and go on quests that really help them understand the area they’re visiting, such as scavenger hunts.
So why not try something new? Whether you’re in a rut and are seeking for a new adventure, or if you have a teenager whose life you want to enlighten, or maybe you and your family are tired of doing the same old drab thing every year come vacation time, Rahhalah is a great alternative way to travel. All you have to do is visit their website, shop around and you’ll be riding rapids, cycling through valleys, walking ancient trails and climbing mountains in no time!
Visit Rahhalah’s website at www.rahhalah.com. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram: @rahhalah and check out their YouTube channel: RahhalahExplorers. Look out for our future collaboration with Rahhalah in our upcoming issues and watch this space!