Al Wathba Wetland Reserve Overview

The Al Wathba Reserve, Abu Dhabi's first protected wetland area, is a lush haven for nature enthusiasts. In this man-made reserve that combines wetlands, salt lands, dunes, and fossilized sands, you can see a wide variety of plants, birds, wild animals, and marine life. It's a great place for families to reconnect with nature while also spotting flamingos and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is one of the most fascinating Abu Dhabi tourist attractions. The reserve is dedicated to the conservation and protection of endangered species and natural reserves.

The Reserve was established in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed as a wildlife and plant sanctuary. Over 250 bird species, 37 plant species, and a wide variety of aquatic life call this place home. During the migration period between September and April, it is home to over 4,000 flamingos. The sanctuary, about 50 km from Abu Dhabi's mainland, is divided into salt flats (sabkhas), fossilized sands, and dunes. Furthermore, it is recognized internationally as one of the world's 2,000 remaining wetlands. In 2018, it was added to the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve has two self-guided walking trails (1.5 km and 3 km) for visitors to explore, as well as a bird-watching hide where they can observe the flamingos. It's an immaculate destination to enjoy an unforgettable experience away from the city's chaos for families and children. 

An air-conditioned visitor's center and shaded areas along the walking trails are available on-site. The authorities ensure to keep it as natural as possible and a perfect haven for wildlife.

Location: Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Truck Road, Abu Dhabi

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• In 2018, the reserve was added to the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, making it the first officially designated wetland preserve in Abu Dhabi.
• Salt flats (sabkha), fossilized lands, sand dunes, and wetland ecosystems coexist in harmony here.
• There are more than 250 bird species, 37 plant varieties, and an abundance of aquatic life in this area.
• It is home to more than 4,000 Greater Flamingos during their annual migration.
• They can choose from 1.5 km or 3 km trails to see a wide variety of flora and fauna from up and close.
• Many of Abu Dhabi's native species, which are nowhere else in the world, thrive here because of its natural and man-made reservoirs.
• Birdwatching, photography, nature walks, self-guided trails, a visitor experience center, are just some of the recreational activities available here, making it an idyllic spot to enjoy a natural retreat.

How To Reach

  1. By Car: It is a 30-minute drive away from Abu Dhabi city center. To get to the reserve, take the E22 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain road, then the E30 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain truck road. Follow signs to the reserve.
  2. By Taxi: Book a taxi or a cab to reach the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve conveniently. 

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Best Time To Visit

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is open from October 1st through April 30th and remains closed during the summer months. However, spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are the best times to visit because the flamingo population is at its peak.

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Other Essential Information

History of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve:

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve lands were once covered in water during the last Ice Age, but wind-blown sediment caused the formation of fossil dunes in this area after the glaciers had melted. The Al Ain truck road's construction aided in the creation of natural depression while flooding in the surrounding area later contributed to the waterlogging.

Brine shrimp, a favorite of flamingos, were in plenty in the salty water and drew the birds in. Other types of birds also began to make periodic visits to the area over time. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan declared the area a protected sanctuary for wildlife in 1998 and restricted human activities in the area, allowing birds and animals to breed. This resulted in an abundance of wildlife, including a wide variety of birds, animals, and plants, and in making this place a beautiful lush paradise.

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Tips to Visit:

  1. Carry sunscreen, a scarf, a hat, mosquito repellant, and a basic medical kit.
  2. Stay hydrated at all times and carry reusable water bottles.
  3. Stay on the trails, maintain silence and do not disturb wildlife.
  4. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, you may need to walk for up to 3 km.
  5. Take along a camera to capture some amazing memories.

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Day Wise Timings
Open Today
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 05:30 PM
Normal Timings:
Point of Interest for Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
See the large group of Greater Flamingos

See the large group of Greater Flamingos

More than 4,000 flamingos make their home in the reserve during the fall and spring. With a bird-watching hide, it offers the reserve's most wonderful sights of flamingos. Here, you can enjoy them honking and see them from pretty close.

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Take a Guided tour of Reserve

Take a Guided tour of Reserve

Self-guided tours of either 1.5 km or 3.0 km trails of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve allow visitors to spot various birds and animals seen in their natural habitat. There is a special bird hideout with a telescope and binoculars to see flamingos from up close.

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Check out the Flora & Fauna

Check out the Flora & Fauna

It may be the best place to visit in Abu Dhabi if you are interested in flora and fauna because of being home to 37 distinct plant species, 250 species of birds, and a wide range of wild and aquatic animals.

Red thumb cynomorium coccineum, desert hyacinth, qatar hyacinth, desert tetraena, and many more native plants are here that can't be found anywhere else in Abu Dhabi. There are numerous beautiful species of birds to observe, including the gray-headed swamphen, black-winged stilt, and Western Marsh Harrier.

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