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Everything You Need to Know about Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

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Dubai is home to a natural reserve that is ideal for animal and bird lovers. The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary provides a conducive environment for migratory birds during the winter season, with natural resources and a healthy climate that closely resemble their natural habitat.

Also known as the Cape of the Creek, this sanctuary is one of the wetlands in the United Arab Emirates that boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna. It is under the watchful eye of the Dubai Municipality and offers an ecosystem that is nothing short of perfect.

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Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary Dubai: What’s So Exciting?

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary Dubai

RAKWS, an acronym for Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, is a wetland reserve located in the Ras Al Khor community of Dubai. The sanctuary provides a natural habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including mammals, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, and fish. Although the sanctuary is renowned for its population of flamingos, visitors can also observe reef herons, osprey, black-winged and sandpipers, kingfisher, egrets, black-tailed godwit, and other species.

In addition to the wildlife, the sanctuary also boasts a variety of plant life, which helps to maintain the ecological balance of the area. Common plants in the reserve include basic reed, bean caper, and strings of the bead.

Location of Ras Al Khor

Location of Ras Al Khor

Located at the head of Dubai Creek, Ras Al Khor Sanctuary is dedicated to protecting, conserving, and preserving the ecosystem and wildlife in the area. The sanctuary’s primary goal is to ensure that the migratory birds that arrive during the winter season are provided with a sustainable climate and access to the resources they need to thrive.

How to Reach Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

If you’re planning to visit the sanctuary, you can rent a car from the nearest Metro station and take the Dubai to Hatta motorway (E44) towards Al Ain. Look out for the signposts for Hatta and take the Dubai-Hatta Road towards Dubai. Be on the lookout for the turnoff to the sanctuary from the 4-lane highway along the route, and then follow the signs to get there.

The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is open to visitors from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM during the winter season and from 6 AM to 6 PM between April and September during the summer season.

Best Time to Visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Best Time to Visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the best times to visit the sanctuary is during the winter season, which runs from December to March when the weather is cool. This is also the ideal time to observe migrating birds that visit the reserve from African nations to spend their winter months. Another highlight of this season is the opportunity to witness pink flamingos occupying their designated space in the nature reserve.

For a unique experience, visitors can explore the Mangrove Hide during low waves when the mangroves are visible above the water level. This can be done at any suitable time, as long as the tides are low. It’s worth noting that flamingos, like humans, select their partners for life and maintain a stable relationship with their partner. It’s said that the bond between flamingo couples can last for decades, making it a must-see sight at the sanctuary.

Explore the Cape of Creek

Explore the Cape of Creek

Dubai’s Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is often called the Cape of the Creek and is known for its diverse flora and fauna. The sanctuary is closely monitored and safeguarded by the Dubai Municipality to preserve the surrounding area. It’s an ideal ecosystem that allows visitors to observe birds in their natural habitat while providing saline flats, mudflats, mangroves, and lagoons for the birds to use for nesting and habitats.

Apart from birds, the sanctuary is also home to crustaceans, mammals, reptiles, and fish. There are three bird hides located within the sanctuary that visitors can freely access during open hours. During the winter season, the sanctuary sees more visitors. The best part is that there is no entry fee to visit the Ras Al Khor sanctuary.

Things to Know Before Making your Visit to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Things to Know Before Making your Visit to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, you don’t need permission to visit Ras Al Khor sanctuary. However, all media outlets, tour groups, companies, and academic institutions are required to obtain permission from the government prior to their visit. It’s best to apply for permission at least three days in advance, as coordinators require around two working days to process requests.

To obtain permission, submit an application to the Marine Environment & Wildlife Section and Dubai Municipality. Once you accept electronic permission, print it out and deliver a copy to the sanctuary team upon arrival. Before visiting, it’s important to note that littering and hunting are strictly prohibited in the wildlife sanctuary. Bringing pets inside the sanctuary is also strictly prohibited.

The Flamingo Hide

The hide at Ras Al Khor provides an excellent view of the flamingos, including the elusive Greater Flamingo. You can witness the flamingos feeding voraciously, and in the afternoon, park rangers provide them with food. In addition to flamingos, the sanctuary is home to other bird species such as spoonbills, avocets, marsh harriers, ringed plovers, grey herons, and kingfishers. These birds come to the ponds to feed on milkfish and queenfish in nutrient-rich waters. If you look up towards the Zabeel fish lakes, you may spot great spotted eagles and other raptors soaring overhead.

The Mangrove Hide

Situated on the southern border of Ras Al Khor, the Mangrove Hide offers uninterrupted views of the tall mangrove forest. The hide is continuously monitored to observe the bird activity in the area. During low tide, the wading birds can be seen in the water, catching fish directly below the mangroves. The Mangrove Hide is a prime location for observing wading birds, such as broad-billed sandpipers, which visit the hide from April to July. While during the peak summer season, over 403 bird species can be observed at the hide, some species may be absent for an extended period. Raptors are often seen flying over the mangrove hide parking lot, and the Greater Spotted Eagles can frequently be spotted from October to April.