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V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge

V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Papa got his passport done after he retired from his government job. There is some clause regarding NOCs and hence it is difficult to get it made during your official tenure. Just after that we sat together and decided what should be his first international trip. Given his strict daily routines or I should say extremely disciplined way of living the only option I could suggest was a trip to Dubai.

His daughter…I mean…my sister was staying there so all his nitpicking about the food and daily stuff would be taken care of by her. Since he was traveling outside for the first time it was best that we chose this location.

The first trip that we planned to take from Dubai was to the Al Ain Zoo and Jebel Hafeet because of its serene natural beauty and proximity to Dubai.

Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain Zoo is also known as Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort or Al Ain Wildlife Park. It is about one and a half drive from Dubai and situated in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet. Although it is a part of Abu Dhabi to get to Al Ain you don’t have to go through it and there is a separate way altogether.

The 400-hectare zoo was founded in 1968 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late Ruler of Abu Dhabi, out of his sheer love for the land’s wildlife. He was particularly fond of the Arabian Oryx. We left post breakfast and reached around 11am.

Al Ain zoo is home to many of the regions peculiar species including Ungulates and herbivores such as Arabian antelopes and oryx, eland, gazelle, lechwe. It is also home to the rare white lion. The area is huge and you will have to do a lot of walking. It is not like a regular zoo where the animals are usually caged instead every animal has a huge barn-like space for it with the natural interiors kept intact. Keep a water bottle and a map of the zoo handy.

The zoo also hosts a big cathouse – Lions, cougars, jaguars, and black and spotted leopards are found here. A reptile house, monkey compounds, aquarium, and aviary also add to the attraction. You will fall in love with the natural landscape, the cool breeze from Jebel Hafeet and some beautiful animals in the background.

The Al Ain wildlife park also has residential facilities and if you are looking to spend the weekend then you can stay there as well. There is a bird show featuring predatory birds and night birds that lasts 30 minutes starting at 7 pm. The dinosaur trail is open until 8 pm. There are over 4,000 animals in the zoo, with at least 30% of its 180 species considered endangered.

Tickets: The normal tickets are priced at only AED 30 and AED 10 for kids. If you want to do a safari inside the zoo, then it will cost you around AED 200.

We almost visited every nook and corner, and with Papa along, we didn’t want to exhaust him. It was around 4pm that we left for the summit at Jebel Hafeet. If you depart later than this then you might miss the surreal tranquil view from the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet is the second highest mountain in UAE and the only mountain range in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is located on the border of Oman and UAE and is considered an extension of the Hajjar Mountains that we discussed during Hatta.

It is also of archaeological importance as many Bronze Age beehive tombs were discovered at its foothills. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations because of windy winding roads. Since the rock is mainly made up of limestone, over the years, the speedy winds have created a natural cave system.

The 7.3-mile (11.7 km) mountain road to the top is considered one of the greatest driving roads in the world. With it two lanes meandering through the craggy limestone rocks it is an experience to behold. There are a couple of viewpoints with parking spaces where you can get mesmerized by the sublime desert and its winds.

Once you reach the top there are ample parking spaces. Avoid parking on the side of the roads, firstly because of inconvenience to others and secondly because of strict rules. It may get really cold while returning so please don’t forget to carry warm clothing.

At the top, the summit is grilled with huge metallic bars, as the fall is steep. Some stupid people, including me, still try to crossover and take pictures from that side. Please, it is highly inadvisable and risky.

There are a couple of basic restaurants within the complex at the top but I will suggest carrying your own food. The queues are long and the quality of food not that great. We were graced with some royal scolding from Papa and hence this will stick to my memory forever.

You will find many fitness freaks and lovers of endurance sports cycling their way to the top. I know…I know…that thought in itself is pretty fatiguing. One can also opt for the public transport buses from Al Ain city center.

It gets dark really quickly once the sun sets like always in the mountains. Plan accordingly as you will have to maneuver through huge traffic.

It is a truly majestic experience and a welcome climate change to visit Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain Zoo. Take your whole family and have safe fun.

For all those who love the zoo,

For all those who love driving,

For all those who love mountains,

And

For all those who love Jebel Hafeet…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 22th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘W’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

10

U – Underwater Zoo & Aquarium | #AtoZChallenge

U – Underwater Zoo & Aquarium | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

We have been to a Zoo in the past and we have visited an aquarium but how many times you can say you have been to an Underwater Zoo. Well, not many! Let me take you on a mesmerizing trip of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

Situated in the Dubai Mall, it is considered to be one of the largest and most amazing of aquariums in the world. The giant 10 million-liter tank at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo contains more than 33,000 aquatic animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks anywhere.

It is also home to the world-famous gigantic King Croc – the largest crocodile in the world – my personal favorite. Don’t miss out getting a glimpse of it.

After you reach the counters at ground floor and purchase the tickets you can start from the underwater tunnel located at the ground floor itself. After you complete the tour, then you will head to the second floor to enjoy the rest of the zoo & aquarium. The exit is also on the second floor where you can buy souvenirs on the way back.

Aquarium Tank

It is home to more than 140 marine species. The huge captivating blue tank is the largest suspended aquarium tanks in the world. You will find a wide range of sharks, electric rays, and various other colorful fishes and aquatic animals. You will see more sand tiger sharks here than anywhere else in the world. When you go to the second floor, they will take you to a section where you can see how they breed these sharks.

Underwater Tunnel

After purchasing the ticket it will be the first thing you will experience. It is a 48 m long tunnel built over this huge aquarium tank. When walking through it you will feel as if you are inside the tank with the sharks and rays floating over your head. It is the best experience for kids and once inside I have seen a lot of adults turning into kids.

Underwater Zoo

After having the starters at the tunnel let’s head to the second floor for the main course known as Underwater Zoo. It comprises of three different sections, although one isn’t able to differentiate, Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Ocean. Through its 40 different display tanks, you will able to see some really amazing and peculiar underwater creatures like the Humboldt Penguin, Piranha, African Dwarf Crocodile, Giant Spider Crabs, Otters, Lionfish and so many more.

The ambiance inside is way too immersive. You will feel that you are taking a stroll through the Amazon. There are some really vibrant large parrots, which will be not caged and will be flying over your head. The noise of the nocturnal insects adds another layer of authenticity to the experience. After walking for about 30 min inside you will come across the superstar of the Zoo – the King Croc.

King Croc

One has to literally see it to believe it. The King Croc gives a slight peek into the prehistoric Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. If this one were so big, it would have been an all-different unimaginable feel when the dinosaurs walked around.

It is a massive 5 m long that weighs around 750 kg. They say that its head alone weighs around 150 kg. It has the highest bite force of any creature alive and its 60 beautiful pearly white sharp teeth can make a meal out of someone in no time. It is already 40 years old and is expected to live for the next 50 years. King croc is one of the most feared and powerful reptiles to have graced the planet.

UAE’s Night Creatures

Another latest edition inside the zoo is UAE’s night creatures segment. It is created as a dark alley with the inside of the display arenas designed to replicate the Arabian nightlife. It has some unique animal species that thrive in the desert environment. You can spot Arabian Toads, Fruit Bats, Giant Camel Spiders, Scorpions, False Cobra, Desert Hedgehogs, Barn Owl, Veiled Chameleons, Frog Eye Geckos, Ornate Spiny Tail Lizards and Cheesman’s Gerbils.

There plenty of places where you can take some really cool pictures. Special mention is that walkover rope bridge with large owls on both sides.

There are some wonderful aquatic adventure experiences that you can try inside the Zoo.

Shark Feeding Encounter

Wouldn’t it be cool that rather than the shark feeding on you, you are feeding them! You can get up-close and personal with the sharks where you can feed them too, of course under guidance. The 30 min experience is completely safe and something worth trying.

Cage Snorkeling

The size of the Aquarium Tank is huge for a reason – One can get inside the snorkeling gear and inside a big cage. The cage will then be lowered inside the tank where you will become a part of the marine life. No better way to watch hundreds of excited fishes circling around you.

Shark Dive

Whether you are a certified diver or not, you can experience a shark dive. Go take the plunge and make friends with some really scary and beautiful razor-sharp smiling sand tiger sharks.

Scuba Dive

Scared to dive deep in a sea or an ocean, well you can try your hands at scuba diving inside the zoo. After a quick theory lesson from the instructor, you can dive and experience what it is like breathing underwater.

VRZOO

There is a section where you can enjoy the aquatic experience through a virtual reality setup. Not a fan of the real foul smelling creatures, don’t worry, try the VR experience.

For all the kids who believe they have a marine biologist hidden in them, they too can experience the life of a professional aquarist. There are two packages for that – Junior (5-15 year old) and Senior Aquarists (8-15 year old).

Tickets and Timings

The basic ticket starts from AED 130 and it goes up depending on the experience and adventures you want to go for.

Junior Aquarist – AED 157.50 / Child

Senior Aquarist – AED 262.50 / Child

Timings: 10 am to 12 midnight everyday.

What are you waiting for – go become a kid for a day – swim with the sharks, float with the rays and dive deep into the mesmerizing world of Underwater Zoo.

For all those who love marine life,

For all those who want to feed sharks,

For all those who swim with the rays,

And

For all those who want to be a part of the Underwater Zoo…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 21th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘V’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.