A nature lovers paradise, home to over 650 species of birds, animals and the Greater Flamingos of Abu Dhabi.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is one of the most fascinating nature sports in Abu Dhabi. Home to over 650 species of birds and animals beside the Greater Flamingos that live and breed here.
Located around 50 km away from Abu Dhabi city, this area is a mix of water bodies, natural and man-made islands, sabkhas, fossilized sands and dunes.
Internationally recognized as one of the 2,000 remaining wetlands in the world. In 2018, it was placed on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.
It is believed that the fossil dunes of Gayathi Formation were formed 7,000 to 20,000 years ago. The environment in the region at the time was starkly different from what we see today with the region being deep under the seas.
Over time as the glacial period ended, the seas receded and wind-blown sediments accumulated leading to the formation of fossil dunes at the site that can still be seen.
The building of the Al Ain Truck road lead to the area becoming a natural depression where water accumulated and gave rise to thick lush vegetation that then attracted birds and various forms of wildlife.
The first Flamingos were recorded in the early 1990’s and this has been their home ever since where they live on the salty brine shrimp found in the lakes with the secluded nature of the area providing a safe haven for the birds to breed.
In 1998, His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan declared the area a natural reserve. This led to the growth of the flamingo population and subsequently more and more species flocked here.
Things to Do
With over 250 species of birds, a huge variety of animals and over 35 species of plants to see, there is lots to keep nature lovers coming again and again.
The biggest single species to be found here is the Greater Flamingo with over 5,000 of them calling it home and the numbers grow every year.
One never knows what one will see or experience here which adds to the fun. There is a visitor center for arriving guests where a nature guide will let you know where to go and what to see. There is a free guidebook that helps you understand the area better.
There are two trails across the area one is about 1.5 Km and the other covering the full area is 3 Km and this is the one to use if you want to spot the Flamingos.
The are observations areas and a bird hide to see the wildlife with plans underway for a huge new bird watching platform coming up soon.
When to Visit
The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is open October to April, Thursdays to Saturdays form 8.00 AM to 4.00 PM, timings change so please check before going. Entry is free.
There is no dining or shopping onsite so guests need to bring their snacks and drinks. There are toilets available but not much else.
Best time to go is early morning and make sure you wear comfortable cloths and walking shoes, take your binoculars and cameras as the sights are breathtaking.
Be sure to stay on the tracks as to not interfere with the delicate ecology of the area and not to litter the site.