The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort is a fantastic day out!
To answer the title question – the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR)most definitely cares for it’s animals and it shows. It’s counterpart in Dubai has a lot to answer for in comparison.
A month or so ago, a weekend arrived and all plans fell through. It’s at those times you think, well what is there to do here in the UAE, other than the usual malls, camping, dune bashing, hiking, diving, waterparks, brunch, beach, swim, gym, squash, hang out with friends, snow board, cycle, BBQ etc? After much deliberation (5 minutes), Matt, Lou and I decided that this would be a good chance to go and see the place as none of us had been in spite a collective 26 years of time here in the UAE between us. It’s a fair old drive from Dubai and with the current roadworks going on in Al Ain, not straight forward to get to – http://www.awpr.ae/en/Pages/AU-Location.aspx Or stick the place in your GPS and away you go.
There have been a number of changes taking place throughout the years at the AWPR, most notably of which the fact that the San Diego Zoo has signed a 20 year partnership with them to help develop the establishment. This is quite an endorsement and I have to say that in answer to the question in the title, the animals here looked healthy, happy and most importantly for a lot of the big guys, had loads and loads of space.
The park is well laid out and as soon as you walk in, you have the flamingoes on your right and a big map showing you exactly where everything is, so you can work out your plan of attack.
As far as Wildlife Parks go, this is pretty impressive, both in terms of size but also in terms of the variety of Wildlife that they have. You have various exhibits from the White Lions, to the African Mixed exhibit, to the Cat House, Nocturnal House and Reptile house to name a few. I am very tempted to post all the pictures of the various species within this post, but I would rather you all made the trip down there yourselves and saw them in the flesh.
My favourite animal of the day was hard to pinpoint, but there was a group of guys that did really stand out and I could have literally stood there for hours watching them and that was the Ververt Monkeys. These guys are fast and agile and two in particular were very playful. Very entertaining to watch and would highly recommend a visit to their enclosure.
Another highlight for me was the Giraffes and Rhinoceros enclosure. The image on the left is one that you could take, standing behind a small lip of a wall, which was effectively all that was separating you from these guys. They seemed very happy eating their hay and it was amazing to be able to see them without bars in front of them and have a clear view of them in their massive enclosure.
This picture is of the 2 headed Giraffe :-), and the Rhino’s were all taking it easy in the shade. And this is a point worth mentioning. Aside from a couple of the exhibits, the Park and Resort is outdoors, so as we move further and further into summer, the prospect and ability of being outside becomes less and less appealing, not just for visitors but for some of the animals as well. We spent a good few hours in the Park and caught the sun quite a bit.
As there is a lot to see in the park and resort you are more than likely going to spend a good portion of the day here and as such will need food and water. There are the usual stands where you can get bottles of water, juice and ice cream, but when it comes to ‘lunch’ there isn’t much on offer. There is a small building in the middle of the resort, which is where you can get some lunch, but the choice is quite limited, so I hope you like Hardees, Pizza or KFC, I think there were also some doughnuts available, but the setup doesn’t quite look permanent which can be a little disconcerting, especially when they disappear off out the back once you have ordered 🙂
That being said, I highly recommend a trip to Al Ain to pop into the Resort, perhaps time your trip between October-April to allow for Dubai’s fierce summer, but take the family or some friends and make sure you take the camera! As we left, I actually spotted a rather unusual animal at the souvenir store. I have never seen one before, but it looked like it belonged in the line up…..
As I mentioned, if you are taking the trip down to Al Ain, it’s a fair old trek, so whilst you are there, if you haven’t been up it, you should head up Jebel Hafeet. This is actually the highest mountain in the UAE and at the moment is a treacherous drive up due to road works, but well worth the effort. Lou, who has been here for 4 years had never been up, so we drove up to let her have a quick look before she heads off back to Australia, after some serious travelling!!! (Very Jealous)
When you are driving up, you can’t help but think about those people that frequently run or ride up this mountain – for fun!!! Of course Matt ‘Hunter’ Wilson has ridden up it and even he was saying that hard isn’t really enough of a word to describe it.
Once you get to the top, the views are amazing and you pass by what must be someone’s private villa, no access of course, but what a spot! There will undoubtedly be hundreds of people up there in the huge open car park, chatting, marvelling at the view or just chilling out on one of the benches. There is a restaurant up there too, imaginatively called Top of Hafeet Mountain! So you can always grab a cup of chai or a soda and enjoy the views for a while.. In spite of the large number of people up there, you can still get carried away in your thoughts whilst staring out over the vastness below. Go take a look for yourselves.