A fascinating area with a patch of forest that’s been inhabiting the deserts of UAE for 300 years, the Kalba mangroves are finally open to visitors after the place has been closed down for a decade.
The mangrove forest emerged from a creek and is situated in the midst of an azure lagoon that shines with the reflection of the sunlight. The mangroves are home to a number of species both under and above water. The usual neighbors of this place are turtles, jumping fishes, stingrays, and the rare Arabian Kingfisher birds which you can clearly see with a good set of binoculars.
Though you might not see stingrays, there are plenty of opportunities to see jumping fishes, tons of mud crabs, and migratory birds as you peer over the bridge that arches over the lagoon, giving you a spectacular view of the surrounding waters.
The Kalba mangroves are undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Kalba and one of the naturally green places in the UAE that all outdoor lovers will enjoy. But remember to always be eco-friendly and do not disturb the wildlife or harm the environment.
An Eco-friendly Architecture
The Khor Kalba Mangrove Center was built to monitor, preserve and protect the mangrove forest without disturbing the environment and its species. The center consists of several inter-connected pod structures that are designed with inspirations of the urchin exoskeletons which are found in the area.
To make sure that the building caused no harm to the environment, the center is built with prefabricated concrete structures that help minimize disturbances to the surrounding plains. Concrete foundations, which are simple robust discs, are elevated from the ground to protect the buildings. From an aerial view, this center could be mistaken for a space station on Mars.
Aquariums & Turtle Pool
Before the Kalba mangrove forest comes into view, visitors are led to the center’s pods. One of the pods contains large, beautifully designed aquariums that host the underwater marine life found in the terrain. With blue lights from the aquarium shining in the dark surrounding, you’ll see sea urchins, starfishes, and other types of fascinating finned swimmers.
A tank for rehabilitating turtles is also placed just outside the pod. A green turtle can be seen calmly swimming in the pool’s water as it rests and recuperates.
The Khor Kalba Mangrove Forest Trail
The main attraction of the area and a place that gives visitors a good dose of green, this Kalba Mangroves trail is a 2km walk with scenic views of the lagoon, the never-ending stretch of mountains as a backdrop, and an arching bridge that leads into the dense trees of the mangroves.
This Khor Kalba mangrove forest also acts as a bird sanctuary in UAE, attracting both native and migratory birds. Small wooden-bird watching houses are also cleverly built into the place so travelers can spot this winged wildlife in its natural habitat. Bringing a pair of binoculars would be great to get a closer look at the birds.
These mangroves originated from a small creek 300 years ago and are the only patch of land that is extremely biodiverse in the country. The trail lets visitors walk inside the mangroves and breath in the fresh air the trees give out. The swamp also has thousands of palm-sized sea shells laying on the dark wet grounds.
Catch a Glimpse of Flying Fish
The wooden bridge that leads you in and out of the mangroves provides a breath-taking view of the lagoon that stretches out all over the land. This is also where you can see fishes in their habitat jumping out of the water as if greeting the visitors. Hundreds of other fishes can also be seen swimming around the edge if you just peer over the bridge rails.
The center also has a birdcage in the Kalba mangrove park that is used for nurturing and breeding endangered or injured birds. This is also where you can see the endangered and rare Arabian Kingfisher resting in a closed space with its habitat setting.
While these are the main attraction of the Kalba mangroves, the place is also big enough to take leisurely strolls outside the mangroves. There is also a children’s playground for young ones that would love to roll in the sand for a while.
If you’re planning to visit this beautiful place, here are a couple more things to keep in mind:
- The entrance fee is 25 dhs per adult
- The mangrove centre is open from 2pm to 6pm, so it is advised to get there by atleast 3pm so you’ll have enough time to stroll around the place and see all the wildlife before they go into hiding near sunset.
- The centre has drinking water stations, so you can carry a bottle with you for free refills.
- Don’t miss out the aquariums. It’s where you can see some fascinating underwater creatures of the mangroves.
- Get a pair of binoculars to see the birds and crabs up close.
- And most important of all, be responsible travelers and respect mother nature.