9 of the best places to see wildlife in the UAE
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Directions: TTake the E22 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain road and merge onto the E30 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Truck Road, then follow the signs for the reserve, open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5.30pm (last entry at 4pm), free entry. ead.gov.ae
Jubail Mangrove Park
The huge walk through the Abu Dhabi Mangrove National Park offers visitors a chance to get a little closer to nature. There’s a chance to kayak among the vast greens, but your main reason for visiting should be to say hello to the wildlife. There is a varied list of animals, including fish, crabs, birds (including flamingos), turtles, gazelles, crabs, and more mysterious creatures.
Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily, 15 Dhs for adult, 10 Dhs (3 to 7 years old). Tel: (0)56 303 2423. park.jubailisland.ae
Sir Bani Yas Island – Arabian Wildlife Park
Getting to this island that is home to over 11,000 animals takes a bit of time, but the sights are worth it. It’s a 25-minute boat ride from Jebel Dhanna (itself a two-hour drive from downtown Abu Dhabi), but once on the island you’re treated to wilderness, romantic views and Moreover. The list of wildlife on this paradise island includes different endangered species such as the black antelope and the Arabian oryx as well as the giraffe, ostrich and cheetah. Guests on the island have the opportunity to go on game drives and experience memorable opportunities to spot these rare creatures, without a single cage or handler in sight.
Sir Bani Yas is located 8 km off Jebel Dhanna (a two-hour drive from downtown Abu Dhabi), accessible by free water taxi or private seaplane. You can book stays on anantara.com website.
Emirates Park Zoo
Animals you will encounter here include wild cats including lions, tiger leopards and more; herbivores like giraffes and zebras; primates such as capuchins; birds including the majestic owl, falcons, eagles and parrots; reptiles and more. You can get your thrills on a zipline or dine with elephants or feed hungry hippos. Entrance to the zoo costs 40 Dhs per person and can be reserved here. Note that currently a green pass is required to enter.
Emirates Park Zoo, 12th Street, Al Bahyah, Abu Dhabi, open daily 9am-8pm, Tel: (0)2 501 0000. emiratesparkzooandresort.com
This 400 hectare park was established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1968. It is one of the largest in the Middle East and many animals include gorillas, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, jaguars, lemurs, hippos, chimpanzees, wolves and crocodiles call it home. Visitors can see endangered species preserved and cared for in habitats similar to their own, and even interact with them. A number of experiences are available, including feeding the king of the jungle (pictured above), taking part in a mountain bike experience and more. Please note that a green pass is required to enter. Tickets cost 31.50 Dhs per adult and 10.50 Dhs per child.
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the first national park in the United Arab Emirates. As Dubai continues its rapid development, the Government of Dubai has recognized the need to preserve its unique and beautiful desert habitat. Thus, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve was created to protect endangered species and for the conservation of the natural habitat and heritage of the desert. See falcons, oryx, gazelles, go horseback riding or camel trekking, and more.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary located at the mouth of Dubai Creek is quite a popular spot thanks to the 20,000 birds that call it home. The lagoons here are home to a flamboyance of pink flamingos. To see them, all you have to do is swing over to one of the three observation caches scattered around the perimeter of the shrine. Admission is free and binoculars can also be borrowed.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Ras Al Khor Road, Ras Al Khor, Dubai, dm.gov.ae