Watching flamingos in the heart of Dubai

Even though it is one of Dubai's hidden treasures, I had heard about the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary soon after I got here. Being a nature lover, I really wanted to visit it, but somehow, it didn't happen. Until recently. We set out one day to discover this wetland reserve which attracts thousands of migratory birds in winter.

This is a protected area, and interestingly, not very much promoted or publicized. Even locating it can be a bit of a headache, although you may notice the pink flamingos while driving on Ras Al Khor Road. There is an imperceptible service road which leads to the first bird hideout.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Little Dude was really excited about seeing the flamingos, but I had to contain his excitement because the hideout is a quiet zone! It's as small as a hideout is expected to be, and most people who visited here were enthusiasts. They have binoculars and a telescope available, but the birds were close enough to see.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

There were the flamingos of course, but we also saw Great Egrets, Swans, Cranes, and Grey Herons. There are supposedly 88 species of birds that can be found here in winter.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Little Dude was done after seeing the flamingos, but I couldn't stop looking. There were so many beautiful water birds to see, and in such a natural and serene surrounding. It would be hard to believe we were still in Dubai, if it wasn't for the skyscraper silhouettes in the distance!

We stayed here for over 30 minutes and I discovered so many different species, even though I couldn't identify them all (they have a chart available).

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

It is here that an enthusiast told us that the flamingos are fed at about 3:30 to 4 PM at the second hideout, and that it's a sight to see! We got to the second hideout (which is on Oud Metha Road), and this one was almost exclusively a flamingo gathering point.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

After a long wait, we finally got to see the flamingos being fed and it was an amazing sight, with lots of noise!

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

We didn't see the third hideout, and many people didn't seem to know about it either. But it was a wonderful experience seeing such graceful birds from up close, and that too in the city of Dubai.

Tips for visiting Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary:

1. Use navigation. You will most certainly get lost the first time, but don't give up! Watch out for that service road.

2. Bring your own binoculars for uninterrupted use, or a long lens camera.

3. If you have a toddler with you, they will get bored very quickly, so get some quiet toy or activity along for them.

4. Eating is not allowed inside the hideout, but your kids will definitely get hungry, so carry snacks for the car.

Visit for more details. You can also download this booklet.

The hideouts are closed on Fridays, and timings are 9 AM to 4 PM, but may vary according to season.

Sharing the map here for reference:

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United Arab Emirates 1236278958855178131

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Kara said...

Wow - that sea of pink must be an impressive sight. What a great day out

Coombe Mill (Fiona) said...

How wonderful for them to have all that space and water and so close to the city too. A real spectacle to watch. Your photos are wonderful, they are such graceful birds. We have just one plastic one here on the farm, not the same at all! Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.

Tarana said...

Thank you, it was!

Tarana said...

Thanks Fiona, it was a wonderful experience!

Kriss MacDonald said...

How amazing to see all those flamingoes and you can see from your lovely photos that feeding time must have been quite a spectacle. Nature sanctuaries like these are so important too.

Seychellesmama said...

Wow this sounds amazing Tarana! You totally wouldn't imagine something like this being in Dubai! You got some amazing pictures too! Must have been great to see all the flamingos being fed, quite a sight I'm sure!! So nice to spot lots of different birds you didn't know too!
A lovely experience for you guys!
Thanks for sharing with #myexpatfamily

Baby Globetrotters said...

Great to read, a little gem right here in the UAE that I didn't know about

Tarana said...

It was an unforgettable experience, Chantelle!

Tarana said...

Well, I hope you visit it some time soon!

[email protected] said...

This so cool! There's something so captivating about flamingos. Apparently there is a flamingo sanctuary in Milan too, but I've yet to find it! You've reminded me to have another look for it, thanks for that.

nadia said...

Lovely pictures, Tarana! I've been to the Sanctuary twice and absolutely love it.

Tarana said...

You must check it out then!

Tarana said...

It's beautiful, isn't it? I want to go again!

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