The UAE is mainly known for its glittering cityscapes, towering skyscrapers, and world-famous landmarks. There is, however, another side to this country, which is vastly unexplored. We are talking about the country’s nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries here.
These environmental gems are a haven for those who love to explore nature reserves, sanctuaries and local flora and fauna. Let’s find out more about these nature reserves in the UAE, that are definitely worth a visit:
Nature Reserves & Wildlife Sanctuaries in Dubai
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
RAKWS is a natural wetland reserve and ecological sanctuary where you will find bird species, crustaceans, mammals, mangroves and reptiles, along with a variety of flora and fauna. As it is a biodiverse region, you will find native as well as migrant wildlife species and plants. These include black-tailed godwit, reef herons, kingfisher pink-beaked flamingos, Ferruginous ducks, Eurasian teal duck, sandpipers, kingfisher, and Agama lizards.
Located on Baniyas Road Deira, RAKWS is free to visit.
Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the most popular nature reserves in the emirate, Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary houses 539 marine creatures, around 150 and 124 species of fish and bird, respectively. Furthermore, it features 34 species of coral. Among them, around 40% are endangered.
Moreover, this place is known for its global significance as it was added to the Wetlands of International Importance list by Ramsar in 2018. Furthermore, it is regarded as the 8th protected wetland in the country as an EBSA (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Area).
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR)
Next on the list of nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries is DDCR. It is much more than just a habitat for a variety of birds and animals. Being a massive nature reserve spanning over 225 square kilometres, it allows visitors to take part in a range of activities to make their visit more fun and special. These activities include horse riding, camel riding, sandboarding, safari, falconry, and trekking. You can also enjoy an extravagant meal at Sonora Camp, a restaurant that lies close to the site of this wildlife sanctuary.
Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve
Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve ranks among the biggest unfenced nature reserves in the UAE. It allows the visitors to experience the species in a natural habitat. This sanctuary houses more than 150 species of migratory birds along with 200 species of native birds. Other than that, there are reptiles, flamingos and Arabian oryx.
Nature Reserves in Sharjah
Al Wasit Wetland Reserve
It is basically a conservation area where you can encounter various migratory and local birds. It’s a perfect spot if you want to discover Sharjah’s native flora and fauna.
A paradise for bird watchers, it houses around 198 bird species, apart from various rare mammals, reptiles, insects and plants. You may get a glimpse of some fascinating birds here including purple swamphen, heron, white ibises, etc.
Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre
One of the most popular nature reserves, Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre is located just outside Kalba, a place that encompasses several natural spots. The centre of this place has huge landscape enclosures that allow visitors to enjoy the stunning views of pristine mountains. Furthermore, they can get a glimpse of 30 animal species that are found in this area.
Nature Reserves in Abu Dhabi
Al Batha Nature Reserve
Al Batha Nature Reserve is an ecotourism project created for the purpose of protecting the local wildlife. It’s also a family-friendly facility as there’s a playground for kids, a shaded seating area, and a beautiful lake.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
If you are looking for a place where you can get to know about endangered wildlife species and birds, head over to Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. One of the most visited wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves not only in the capital city but the entire country, it also nestles in itself various natural and artificial lakes. You can reach this place in 45 minutes from the city centre.
This place boasts stunning natural beauty, more than 250 bird species, and various other invertebrates, reptiles and animals. There’s also an air-conditioned visitor centre, apart from two self-guided nature trails, making it a perfect place to visit for a day out with your kids. This is surely an amalgamation of a fun-filled and informative visit for your children.
Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area
Comprising 308 square kilometres of coastal salt flats and natural sand dunes, this nature reserve is located next to Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the Al Dhafra region. There are over 30 species of reptiles and birds. You may also get to encounter some rare mammals here, such as the Arabian Oryx.
Mangrove National Park
A popular natural attraction in the emirate, Mangrove National Park houses various species of fish, birds, marine mammals and other animals. One of the must-visit nature reserves in UAE, it has a lot for visitors to explore and take part in. For example, they can enjoy paddleboarding and kayaking. It’s a complete day trip package for families.
Jebel Hafit Natural Park
Jebel Hafit Natural Park is nestled on the highest peak in the emirate. Here, you will come across the most endangered flora and fauna in the UAE. Some globally endangered species, including Brandt’s Hedgehog, Blandford’s Fox and Arabian Tahr, and Egyptian vulture, can also be found here.
Other than that, this place can be termed as nature lovers’ paradise as they can see over 500 ancient burial tombs, dating back to 5000 years. These are located at the foothills of the mountain.
It happens to be the only place in the emirate where you can encounter the rarest plants in the Gulf region – the Dwarf Palm.
The Way Forward
There you have it! These are some of the nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the UAE that you must visit. Even if you are not a nature lover, it’s still recommended to plan a visit to these places and enjoy the amazing activities and views they offer. You will never know, if you too fall in love with nature, after visiting these nature reserves and sanctuaries, and would want to visit more often.