Dubai Safari
Dubai Safari Image Credit: AR

Dubai: You can actually feel the breath of fresh air as you head to the Dubai Safari Park. The tree line leading to the 119-hectare wildlife reserve prepares you for a unique experience of getting up-close to a host of animals, including some of Africa’s most stunning species.

Dubai Safari reopened its doors to the public on October 5, after a 29-month hiatus owing to an upgrade work that started in May 2018. It now has more than 2,500 animals including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes — some of them being new residents.

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This cheetah is among Dubai Safari Park's many majestic attractions Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

There are also novel experiences such as the educational Safari Journey, where visitors can see animals roaming in their recreated habitat; a Kid’s Farm, an interactive area for the young to pet domesticated animals. The Grand Aviary is a good place to spend some time with birds flying around or perched on trees or on the ground, picking some seeds.

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The lush green environs of Dubai Safari Park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Explore and enjoy

Dubai Safari is open daily from 9am to 5pm, but it is best to start your visit in the morning to enjoy and explore every corner of the park, which is divided into four zones: Explorer Village, African Village, Arabian Desert Safari and Asian Village.

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Visitors interacting with a gorilla Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The park’s main attraction is the Safari Journey at Explorer Village. Aimed at providing an “authentic view” of the animals from Asia and Africa, visitors can board comfortable and safe buses and embark upon an hour-long journey to see the habitats.

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The Dubai Safari tour bus Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

A tour guide is also aboard the bus to help enrich the visitors’ experience with colourful tidbits and insights on how the animals live, sleep, play or just hang around. There is a separate fee for the Safari Journey (Dh85 for adults; Dh30 for children) apart from the general admission ticket (Dh50 for adults; Dh20 for children) to the park.

Sleepy lions

The other villages feature animals native to a particular continent or region. For instance, at the African Village, one can find gigantic baobab trees and traditional mud houses. Visitors can see some of the world’s biggest animals, including elephants, giraffes and lions, in this zone.

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Lions are an unmissable part of Dubai Safari Park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Do not forget to look out for the active chimpanzees and gorillas or the playful monkeys and the sprinting springboks (the national animal of South Africa). One must also check out the reptile house — the abode of a number of snakes and reptiles from across Africa. Moreover, the African Village is also home to the UAE’s largest aviary.

Wonderful creatures

Asia is not only the most populous continent in the world, it is also home to the most diverse flora and fauna. This is what is to be expected at Asian Village, where there is a wide range of wonderful creatures from majestic tigers to gleeful gibbons and orangutans as well as the frisky and bouncy moon bears. Another highlight of the Asian Village is a large open-air theatre where a number of shows take place daily.

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A trainer with a Macaw at the park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Arabian Oryx — the UAE’s pride

Surely not to be missed is the Arabian Desert Safari. Look out for the Arabian wolves, sheep, gazelles, antelopes and Arabian Oryx. The UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was instrumental in saving the Arabian Oryx from extinction. In 1978, there were only four Arabian Oryxes that were transferred from Al Ain to a sanctuary on Sir Bani Yas Island.

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Arabian Oryx and black bucks abound at Dubai Safari Park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sheikh Zayed’s conservation programme led to the Arabian Oryxes being released in the wild. Today, the Arabian Oryx population stands at 6,200 and the UAE is now host to the largest number of Arabian Oryxes in the world, numbering around 4,000.

Education, conservation and protection

Seeing wild animals in their natural or recreated habitats is not the only reason to visit Dubai Safari. This sanctuary also helps drive home the crucial messages on wildlife conservation, protection and education.

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It is advised that while watching the animals, one must pay attention to the bulletins that provide information on every animal’s natural habitat, diet, conservation status, the major threats faced by these animals and why many of them become extinct because of trophy hunting and accelerated deforestation.

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An interactive training session with a rhinoceros hornbill at the park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Visitors need not go to the mountaineous regions, tropical forests, scrublands, deserts or grasslands to see these animals. Visiting Dubai Safari Park is good enough! Apart from watching the animals, Dubai Safari Park offers an opportunity to learn a lot about animal welfare and conservation.

At a glance:

Is it safe to visit Dubai Safari Park amid COVID-19? Yes, the park has put in place a number of preventive measures and health protocols, including checking of body temperatures of the visitors, wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing and frequent disinfection.

Dubai Safari Park is located in Al Warqa 5 on Al Aweer Road.

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Children feed rabbits at the park Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Ticket prices: General Admission — Dh50 for adults; Dh20 for children.

Safari Journey — Dh85 for adults; Dh30 for children.

Children under three years and people of determination enter free.