It has been a number of years since I was fortunate enough to visit the African bush and I had really started to miss it. As both a lover of nature and an avid photographer of landscape and animals there are few places that have managed to capture my attention in the way that Southern Africa has done.
Flowers in the dry
My most recent excursion took me on a wildlife experience like no other. I spent 5 days walking in the far northern tip of the Kruger National Park,in the Makuleke concession entering via the most northern of the parks entrances: Pafuri Gate. An area that is as much about the landscape as the animals that inhabit it, making it as magical place for someone like me as I think you could find on the planet.
Zebra in the fever trees
There are parts of the Kruger and definitely other parts of South Africa where the game sighting will be more bountiful. There are certainly places where the scenery will, to some, perhaps rival or beat what I saw but I would be extremely surprised if any other could match the experience of walking with elephants in a setting quite so exquisite.
Whilst glitz, glamour and sand are at the front of anyone’s thinking when it comes to Dubai and the U.A.E. I suspect that few would suspect that it is also home to a world class wetland teaming with bird life.
This is exactly what one will find in Ras Al Khor. Situated about a 10 minute drive from the glitz and glamour of Downtown Dubai and the shops of the Dubai Mall is an area of 620 hectares of protected salt flats, inter-tidal mudflats, mangroves, and lagoons.
The area is home to the most northerly permanent flock of flamingos in the world. In addition to these pink beauties the area is home to a further 66 species of birds including grey and reef herons, cormorants, great egrets and even ospreys.
Most of the species that can be found here are migratory. These wetlands are a crucial staging spot for birds migrating between East Africa and West Asia, and are in fact one of the best arid area wetlands to be found anywhere in the world.
There are 2 main areas for viewing the birds which have permanent hides close to the wildlife. One, reached from the point where the Al Ain Road turns into Oud Metha Rd – is best for viewing the flamingo flock whilst the other which is reached from the Ras Al Khor Road, is best for viewing other birds and is quiet.
Access to the hides is free of charge and the prime time for viewing is the winter (between November and March) when the migratory bird population is at its highest.