Ra's al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary - 25.185354N , 55.320247E
Ra's al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a tidal estuary with saline lagoons in the center of Dubai.
Contrary to popular belief, a permit is NOT needed for a visit to the two hides here.
Directions and access:
The area is completely fenced in with no direct access. This is a welcome move from the municipality, as it keeps unwanted pressure from visitors away.
Dubai Municipality constructed three hides in 2005, of which two are now open for visitors from Saturday to Thursday; 09:00 to 16:00.
1. Mangrove Hide - 25.186051 , 55.328896
Open from appx 9 am to 4 pm. No permit needed to visit the hide.
There is a full-time guard here, and a Leica telescope present from 10 am to 3pm. This is a good hide for waders, esp. Broad-billed Sandpipers and Pacific Golden Plovers right in front of the hide. It is not permitted to walk from the Mangrove Hide to the Flamingo Hide.
This hide is situated along the Dubai to Hatta main motorway (E44), off the westbound lane going into the city. From Dubai, pass the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa on E71 heading towards Al Ain, then continue towards Hatta (signposted). To access the hide, you need to drive west (back to Dubai) on the Dubai - Hatta Road, as if coming back to Dubai from the Dubai Pivot Fields.
The turnoff to the hide lay-by from the 4-lane highway is not well signposted, but found at 25.185125 , 55.331003. Park here.
2. Flamingo Hide - 25.192751 , 55.312180
Always has Greater Flamingo present, and these are fed every afternoon by the rangers. Looking towards the now inaccessible Zabeel fish ponds during the winter months will reward you with Great Spotted Eagles soaring overhead, and quite possibly other raptors as well.
It is easy to access this hide by continuing west from Mangrove Hide, keep in the Right Lane all the way around the inlet onto E66 until you see an un-signposted exit to the hide lay-by at 25.190992 , 55.310547. Park here.
3. Lagoon Hide - 25.197901 , 55.317471
Closed since June 2006; A very productive hide with a restricted access. There is a lot of construction now on the surrounding saltflats, building the new Business Bay (a Manhattan-like project). It will hopefully open in 2015/16.
Start by spending an hour at Mangrove Hide after returning from Hatta / Dubai Pivot Fields. Any time of day can be productive, it all depends on the tide (high tide pushes the waders towards Mangrove Hide. This is THE place for Broad-billed Sandpipers from July to April. A max 403 birds counted from the hide 2 April 2006, but the birds can often be absent for extended periods.
Look for raptors from the parking lot; Greater Spotted Eagles always in view from October to April.
After finishing at Mangrove Hide, walk or drive the short distance of 2.73 km to Flamingo Hide. This is a much less productive hide, but raptor-watch can be surprisingly good from the parking lot.
175 species (excluding escapes) have been recorded as of March 2015.
Rarities have included Red-crested Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Demoiselle Crane, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Pied Kingfisher.