New picnic spot . The manmade lake attracts hundreds of visitors daily Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/XPRESS

DUBAI: Lack of lights, signage and directions in Al Qudra Lakes is turning many a weekend outing at the popular nature preserve into a navigational nightmare.

Many who have been to the manmade lake in the middle of Saih Al Salam Desert say they failed to reach their picnic spot on time or got lost in the darkness on their way back. The GPS service doesn’t work at the place, located off Emirates and Al Qudra roads.

“It can become scary. We kept driving around the lakes while trying to guess our way to the exit, only to end up deeper inside the deserted area. In complete darkness, you could be forgiven for imagining yourself on the sets of a Hollywood horror movie,” said Josh, 21, a university student who spent over 40 minutes last weekend trying to find his way out after a day-long barbecue outing with his friends. “With zero help from my smartphone it was like driving myself up a wall,” he added.

Earlier last month, Indian couple Vaseem and Habiba had a similar experience at the family hotspot that’s home to more than 100 species of birds including many that are migratory. “We finished early, just around dusk but by the time we could our find way out, it was pitch dark. With a newborn baby it was not a very pleasant experience,” recalled Habiba.

Big draw

Al Qudra Lake is the only lake in the neighbourhood of Seih Al Salam that’s open to birdwatchers. It is one of at least six other huge freshwater bodies but smaller lakes including a Swan Lake make this area a buzzing picnic spot.

However with road markings and signposts in the area yet to come up, many campers face problems even during the day. “We lost two hours only to trying to figure out which lake-side our friends had chosen to set up the camp.

There are several water bodies and each looks similar and there’s no way to describe the route. It was like playing lotto and hoping to win it,” said Annelyne who almost missed out on the big lunch her friends and family had planned together at Al Qudra Lake a fortnight ago.