Sir Bani Yas Island, a natural island that is the largest of its kind in the UAE and situated 170 km southwest of Abu Dhabi, is home to the Arabian Wildlife Park, one of the region’s largest animal sanctuaries. The result of years of conservation and re-vegetation work, the Park is inhabited by innumerable diverse indigenous and endangered species, roving unhindered across 1,400 hectares of striking, ever-changing landscape. What is more, thousands of native tree and shrub species, and beautiful, large salt-dome hilltops formed up to 10 million years ago, can all be seen up close on the Park’s guided nature and wildlife drives, walks, horse rides and mountain bike explorations. Resorts in Abu Dhabi provide ample opportunities for enjoying the natural rugged beauty of this haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts. For instance, a lush green mangrove lagoon and elegant flamingos can be viewed from the comfort of your eco-chic lodgings at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort.
One of the world’s largest herds, currently over 400 strong, of endangered Arabian oryx (a species of antelope), wander healthily across the Park, although they were formerly extinct in the wild. The friendly Sand Gazelle, the sleek Caracal (also known as the desert lynx), the towering Reticulated Giraffe, the grand Barbary Sheep, the cute Arabian Hare, the magnificent Somali Ostrich and the speedy Schokari Sand Racer, one of the fastest snakes in the Middle East, are just some of the Park’s many natural wonders.
Four-wheel drive tours are best for observing Park predators such as the fierce Cheetah. Nature walks through the Park’s east side enclosure may have you coming upon harmless herbivores like the Red Deer. Journeying through the desert wilderness on a gallant Arabian horse will have a remarkable feel. And, for fitness buffs, exhilarating mountain bike rides take a variety of on and off-road trails through, not just the Park, but bonus highlights such as wadis (dry riverbeds), beaches and lagoons.
Damon Starky is a creative nomadic travel writer, who is well informed and experienced on a wide range of interests that would connect to the needs of any type of traveler.