I had heard about the flamingoes in the Ras Al Khor sanctuary (a RAMSAR site) at the end of the Dubai creek, and hoped to be able to see them. Information on the net was not particularly helpful. I had some work in Dubai last week and managed to make it there about 30min before closing.
To start with, you need your own vehicle or a taxi to get there as public transport is not convenient. The sanctuary can be reached from Oud Metha road or Ras Al Khor road. There is no conspicuous sign posting so do keep a look out for the flamingo viewing area. I was in a taxi, the driver knew about the RAK industrial area but had never heard about the sanctuary. After asking his pals, he was directed to The Lagoons which being a housing estate under contruction right next to the sanctuary, is a good landmark. (As an aside, this construction right next to the sanctuary is not viewed with favour by environment conscious groups.) Going past The Lagoons, you can see the flamingoes in the creek.
The Flamingo hide is the hide you need for optimal sightings of obviously the flamingoes! There are two other hides besides this. Do keep a watchful eye out for the drive way for if you miss it, you will have to go a long way before you can make a U turn. I would suggest that anyone intending to visit takes a good look at a road map or a google map before going so that you have a reasonable idea how to get there.
I must commend the authorities for constructing these hides. They are essentially walkways into the creek with high palm frond 'concealing walls' so that the birds are not aware of the human presence. The walkway ends in a small wooden room with well placed slits from where us humans can sit, use the ledge as a camera rest which is convenient if you have not brought a tripod, and view the flamingoes, while they remain blissfully oblivious of our presence (or so we believe!). And my God, how many flamingoes there were. At least a 1000 if not more when I was there! Barely 15-20m away.
There is no fee. The website mentions having to register but no one asked me to. There was a visitors book in the viewing gallery if you want to add your comments.
The reason that the flamingoes are there in such numbers is also because they are ingeniously encouraged to be there, by daily feeding. This is why the best time to see them is near closing time, as they hover around the Hide for the feeding truck to arrive around 4pm. Brilliant idea by the authorities to ensure their presence! They are supposed to migrate around the end of March but with so much free food around, I am sure that some flocks remain year round, just as there is a permanent small flock of flamingoes in Abu Dhabi's fish rich Eastern Mangroves.
This is really worth visiting when the flamingoes are there en masse. It is an amazing not to be missed experience, especially considering that it is right next to the RAK industrial area!
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