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Dubai: The flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

by Sanne
Flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

On several occasions, I have noticed the flamingos by the creek in Ras Al Khor, when driving to IKEA, but I’ve always assumed that they were just visiting. Though recently I read on Helen’s blog that the flamingos are permanent residents in Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the large wetland by Dubai Creek in Ras Al Khor. It’s also possible to get up close and personal with the pretty pink birds during the feeding sessions in the morning and in the afternoon.

I’ve always found flamingos highly fascinating, so a couple of days ago, I decided to drive out to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary to have a closer look. By mistake I first drove to Mangrove Hide and Gate 1, which is located along Ras Al Khor Road. I don’t think the security guy out there was used to people stopping by, because I got a very warm welcome, and he was happy to tell me about the different kinds of birds hanging out in his area. Though he finally had to confess that the flamingos were on the other side of the wetlands at Gate 2, Flamingo Hide, on Al Ain Road. I thanked him for the information and hurried off to Flamingo Hide.

It’s free to visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, so I had expected the Flamingo Hide to be packed with tourists, but when I arrived, it was only me and another security guard. Though he was busy with his phone, so I didn’t get the warm welcome I received over at Mangrove Hide.

The security guy at Gate 1 had told me that the feeding timings for the flamingos were each day around 10am and 4pm, but on Fridays, the feeding sessions are closed to the public. The flamingos will turn up well in advance, so if you want to see the birds in peace and quiet, I can recommend that you show up early. Then you can also secure yourself a good seat for when the feeding starts.

I was there at 9:40, so I could take in the view of the beautiful creatures in silence for 20 minutes. At 10am, two busses arrived full of Chinese tourists, and my god, they were noisy. People were pushing and shoving, and several times, I had to ask them to keep their selfie sticks to themselves (and out of my ears). Would have been nice if the security guard did his job and made sure that people were adhering to the rules and regulations posted, including the request for people to keep quiet inside the observation shed.

Otherwise, the Flamongo Hide was a really nice experience. Many of Dubai’s tourist attractions can seem a bit staged, so it was refreshing to see the basic setup that Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary has chosen. Except for the security guard inside the shed, there were no other staff members, and the place was also clear of souvenir shops and other annoyances. For all flamingo fans with a morning to spare, I think The Flamingo Hide would be a great experience.

If you’re driving to Flamingo Hide, please note that there are only 4 parking spaces. It wasn’t a problem for me, because I arrived early, but if I had arrived at the same time as the tour busses, I wouldn’t have had anywhere to park.

For tourists, I’ve seen that some of the sightseeing tours come with stops at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which is probably a cheap and efficient way to see the flamingos. Though with reference to the noisy tourists mentioned above, I think you’ll get a better experience if you go on your own by taxi or Uber and go there well in advance before the feeding starts. Depending on where in Dubai you’re staying, a one-way trip should be around 30-60 AED.

The feeding timings are 10am and 4pm according to the security guard. Friday closed. 

You can open the windows in the observation shed so you get an unobstructed view of the birds. I think the ones that got closest were around 10 meters from me. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary Website >>