With UAE temperatures dipping to the much desired levels and a long weekend hovering over us, we have scouted five best nature spots for you to make the best of the great outdoors and of course, your adventure spirit!
AL ZORAH MANGROVES
How much- AED 170 per person
Often people think that UAE is all about desert and beaches, but here’s a hidden secret. It has some of the most beautiful mangroves particularly in Ajman and Abu Dhabi. The best part is you can kayak through these mangroves drinking the natural beauty of these awesome surroundings, which have been officially declared as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. The Kayak Tours are guided tours conducted by ‘Quest for Adventure,’ an adventure sports company and are expected to catalyse the tourism scene and further establish Al Zorah as a must-visit tourist and lifestyle destination.
Spanning an area of over 1 million square metres, the thick, natural mangroves of Al Zorah are home to over 102 species of native and migratory birds including the famed pink flamingoes that can be spotted throughout the year. The area is abundant with a variety of corals, fish, molluscs and indigenous flora, making it a highly sought-after destination for tourists as well as scientists and researchers to conduct field studies.
For booking, visit: www.questforadventure.net
AL QUDRA LAKE
Al Qudra Lake is a real desert oasis and a popular eco-tourism destination ideal for wildlife-watchers and those seeking to reconnect with nature. Barely at a twenty- minute drive from the city centre, Al Qudra is set amidst the rolling dunes where sprawling manmade lakes blend beautifully into desert surroundings. The area provides habitats for the many avian species which nest here, and low bushes and trees offer food for both birds and insects, though there’s little shade for humans. The lakes may be artificial, but the surrounding area is unspoiled; we recommend travelling by 4×4 as tracks are off-road.
It’s an ideal spot for barbecues, picnics and smooth tracks around the lakes are ideal for cycling and running. Once the sun sets, be sure to look up before you leave – the skies here are entirely unpolluted by traffic or light, meaning you’ll spot twinkling stars and complex constellations with ease.
If you arrive early in the morning, you can be lucky enough to spot chirping birds and gentle rippling through the waters. This place is haven for bird -watchers who can spot several native and migratory birds that congregate here, and several birdwatching towers offer prime positions to do so. Easiest to spot are the less exotic swans, lapwings and ducks, as well as a large flock of (imported) flamingo, who make for a pretty picture as they meditate in the shallows on red, spindly legs. Sometimes cormorant, heron and even kestrel have been also been spotted.
UAE FLOWER FARM
Where- Ras al Khaimah
Entrance fee- AED 15 per person
Open until -end of March
One of UAE’s best kept secret is a floral paradise called the UAE Flower Farm. Located in the Wadi Asimah area in Ras Al Khaimah, this treasure trove of flowers growing in open air surrounded by views of Hajar mountains is no short of a colour wonder. This hidden gem sprawls across with more than 30,000 colourful flowers.
The labour of love of an Emirati national, UAE Flower Farm is a small but unique homegrown business and is a very beautiful place for people who love flowers and photography. Not just the love the nature and fresh air, this place also offers the option of buying fresh flowers and creating your own bouqets. This gorgeous farm boasts a variety of flowers including blue-violet larkspur, bright yellow dandelions and purple yarrow, a herb that produces clusters of small, delicate flowers. There’s also hoary stock, saffron, white dill and coriander. The farm is a meadow of glorious colour and is nothing short of a visual treat. In short, this place looks straight out of a fairy tale, so get your shutters out and flaunt your lovely pics on the gram!
Where- Khor Fakkan
The picturesque pit stop is nestled below the rugged Hajar mountains less than an hour from Sharjah. The dam and rest stop sits off the Sharjah-Khor Fakkan highway just inland of Khor Fakkan’s beach, north of the border between Fujairah and Sharjah. Located at barely 45 mins driving time from Sharjah, visitors can spend chilled time in paddle boats or simply resting on the banks.
The scenery is unmatched with the sandstone mountains looming over pure azure reservoir with accompanying tranquil green landscape and man-made waterfall, making it an ideal picnic spot for nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts.
RAINBOW VALLEY (SPECTRUM HIKE)
For the more daring ones looking for some adrenaline rush, how about taking a moderate to difficult hike? Wadi Ghub (Spectrum/Rainbow valley) hike in Fujairah is an awesomely splendid option. This is because this hike will take you to one of the most spectacular places on UAE s topography- the spectrum valley or rainbow valley. We promise, you shall thank us for this recommendation.
As goes the name, the wadi offers beautiful terrain views and within a walk of 20-30 mins, you will be right in front of the famed “spectrum” or layered, colourful rock formations. Given its unique look and feel, it is a “must visit” site, if you are into hiking in the UAE. The trail is straight forward and you get to experience substantial boulder climbing and scrambling over smoothened rocks.
The hike has minimal shade and the trail has loose gravel on multiple stretches of the trail. This hike is recommended only for groups (not solo) with a minimum of 3 ltrs of water per hiker. Even during winters, the afternoon sun can get to you without appropriate sun protection and ample water. It is highly recommended that you go with someone who has done this trail before.