It may be known as the city in the desert, but Dubai has a rich wildlife, especially migratory birds that call the city home during winter and breeding season.
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing a flock of flamingos up close, you should head to one place in the city: the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
This guide has everything you need to know to plan your visit to one of Dubai’s hidden natural gems and the home of thousands of flamingos.
What is the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary?
The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a vast wetland reserve in Dubai that’s home to different species of birds, mammals, fish and crustaceans.
It also becomes shelter and breeding ground to over 460 species of migratory birds from different parts of the world.
The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is protected and managed by the Dubai Municipality to make sure that this ecosystem is preserved.
Although this reserve attracts thousands of tourists each year, the wetland has been fenced off and bird hides were created to protect the animals that live and migrate here.
Best Time to Go
The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is open all year round from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM during the winter season and from 6:00 AM to 6:00 Pm during the summer.
But since summers can be extremely hot in Dubai, it’s best to visit during winter when the weather is cooler and there are also more migratory birds in the sanctuary.
Things to Know
Plan your trip to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary by following these tips:
- Parking. There’s a designated parking area for visitors in the sanctuary, so you won’t have a hard time parking your vehicle no matter what time you visit.
- Proper Trash Disposal. Since the sanctuary is protected by the government, you need to be responsible for keeping it clean by not leaving your trash anywhere.
- Hunting. Hunting is not allowed inside the sanctuary and pets are also strictly prohibited in the area.
- Viewing. Animals in the sanctuary shouldn’t be disturbed while in their natural habitat. So, it’s recommended that you choose a spot and use your binoculars to view the birds and animals up close.
- Food and Drinks. No food and drinks are allowed inside the sanctuary.
How to Get Around
Trains: If you want to take the Metro, ride the Green Line and stop at the Creek Metro Station. From here, you can take a taxi to the wildlife sanctuary.
Buses: If you’re going to the sanctuary early, take Bus Line 55 and stop at the Dubai Country Club Bus Station at around 6:00 AM. Bus lines 61, 63E and X23 also stop at the same station throughout the day. From here, you can ride a taxi going to the sanctuary.
Taxis: There are many taxis that can take you to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary from anywhere in the city. You can also book a ride through Uber or Careem.
Car service: Do you want to travel more privately? Arrange for a private car service with your hotel or travel agency for a more convenient trip to and from the sanctuary.
Where to Stay Near the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf
Address: Oud Metha Road – Al Jaddaf – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 317 7777
Known for its modern rooms, world-class amenities and signature service, Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf is a family-friendly five-star hotel right near the city’s top attractions.
Relax in a fully furnished room with luxurious linens, treat yourself to the hotel’s spa or take a dip on the outdoor pool.
Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf is also just a few minutes away from the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and the Downtown Dubai area.
The hotel even offers complimentary shuttle services to La Mer Beach, Al Jaddaf Metro Station, Festival City Mall and the Dubai Mall.
Paramount Hotel Dubai
Address: Al Mustaqbal Street – PO Box 113797 – Business Bay – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 248 3333
From the company that brought some of the best movies on the big screen comes a hotel designed after Hollywood glamour.
Paramount Hotel Dubai combines the glamor of Tinseltown with five-star hospitality to create an experience like no other in the heart of Business Bay.
Vida Creek Harbour
Address: Ras Al Khor – Dubai Creek Harbour – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 428 8888
Located on the prestigious Dubai Creek Harbour, Vida Creek Harbour offers stunning views of the city skyline, the historic Dubai Creek and even the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
This luxury hotel had modern suites, a fitness area and outdoor pool, and several restaurants serving up different cuisines.
Where to Eat Near the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
The Courtyard Vida Creek Harbour
Address: Vida Creek Harbour – Ras Al Khor – Dubai Creek Harbour – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 428 8888
Combining good Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food with stunning views of the city, The Courtyard offers a relaxing atmosphere right on the Vida Creek Harbour marina.
Here, you can enjoy dishes like Falafel and Shawarma Wraps, Sea Bass and Ribeye Steak.
Kimura-ya Authentic Japanese Restaurant
Address: 1st Floor Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf – Oud Metha Road – Al Jaddaf – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 54 578 4306
Kimura-ya Authentic Japanese Restaurant is one of the best spots in the city if you’re craving for authentic Japanese food.
The highly acclaimed restaurant has 200 branches in Japan and now 4 in Dubai, so you know that you’re in for good traditional Japanese food.
Kimura-ya offers classic Japanase food like ramen, sushi, sukiyaki and yakitori, all prepared using the best ingredients and by Japanese chefs.
The rstaurant also has an extensive list of Japanese whiskeys, shochus and sakes to complement your meal.
Pacific Groove Restaurant and Lounge
Address: Paramount Hotel – Al Mustaqbal Street – PO Box 113797 – Business Bay – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 55 180 7559
Taking the sunny disposition of California to Dubai, Pacific Groove Restaurant and Lounge has one of the biggest smokers and grillers in the city.
So, if you’re a fan of surf and turf, you’ll surely enjoy what this popular restaurant has to offer.
With a farm to table and ocean to table philosophy, Pacific Groove’s menu include wood fired dishes like Sea Bass, Grass-Fed Ribeye, Canadian Lobster and the massive Wagyu Tomahawk.
The Market Place
Address: Marriott Hotel – Oud Metha Road – Al Jaddaf – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 431 7 7777
A modern chic restaurant featuring beautiful interiors made for casual dining, The Market Place in Marriott Al Jaddaf is a great place to relax after exploring the sanctuary.
The restaurant offers international cuisine highlighting the flavors of Asia with an extensive menu created by Chef Saurabh Saxena.
Here, you can choose between buffet and a la carte style dining with popular dishes like Pad Thai, Nasi Goreng and Tandoori.
What to Do in the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
View the Birds in Their Natural Habitat
Thousands of birds flock to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary during winter to survive and breed.
The pink flamingos are the highlight of the sanctuary for their vibrant colors that can really catch your attention, especially when there are hundreds of them on the wetlands.
The sanctuary is also home to other bird species like the great egret, sandpiper, grey heron and osprey.
Spot the Other Animals in the Sanctuary
Although the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is popular for its huge bird population, you can also find different small mammals, crustaceans and fishes here.
Some of the animals that you can see include the Arabian Cape hare, Red Fox and the Ethiopian Hedgehog.
Explore the Three Hides
The government designated three hides around the sanctuary where different kinds of birds usually stay during migration season.
The mangrove hide is where you can find raptors, spoonbills, shanks and other birds that love the water.
The flamingo hide is where the sanctuary’s most popular residents flock to take refuge and breed.
The lagoon hide opens up to the creek and it’s a favorite among many birds. Make sure to check out these three hides to see most, if not all, of the animals in the sanctuary.
Where to Shop Near the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: 3096 Al Awir Road – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 333 9644
It may not be the biggest mall in Dubai, but the Marhaba Mall has a lot to offer including its massive department store and supermarket.
Here, you can shop for clothes, footwear, cosmetics and even souvenirs from local and international brands.
So, if you’re looking to buy some essentials or groceries, you can easily stop by at the Marhaba Mall on your way back to the city center.
The Dubai Mall
Address: Downtown Dubai – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 800 382 246255
Of course, you can’t go to Dubai without dropping by at the city’s largest shopping complex, the Dubai Mall.
This massive estbalishment has 502,000 square meters of retail space filled with over 1,200 stores from local and international brands.
You also have a huge selection of restaurants, bars and lounges catering to almost every type of cuisine you can think of.
And after shopping at the Dubai Mall, you can always enjoy the Dubai Fountain Show right outside the complex and see the tallest building in the world, the beautiful Burj Khalifa.
The Dubal Mall is also just a few minutes away from the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, so you can easily head to the mall right after birdwatching.
What to Expect from Weather at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Winter: From December to March, Dubai experiences winter. Although you can’t expect any rain or snow during this time, the weather is the most ideal in the city since it’s cooler than the rest of the year.
Summer: From June to September, Dubai experiences summer or the hottest time of year in the city. Here, temperatures can get as hot as 50 degrees Celsius during the day, which is why most people prefer to stay indoors.
Transition period: Between the two seasons, you have a transition period from April to May and October to November. During this time, the weather may suddenly get cold or hot, so you need to be prepared.