Qatar natural wonders: brief introduction

    30 May 2021

    Qatar has its fair share of natural wonders!

    Whether you’re living here or just visiting, these top natural wonders are worth a break from the city and man-made attractions that Qatar has to offer. Plus, all of these do not need any entrance fee and are open 24/7! One caveat though is that there are no public facilities in these spots so better come prepared.

    Qatar is full of spectacular and innovative architecture that will make you stare in awe, but that’s not all it offers. There are also lots of natural wonders to admire throughout the country and we highly recommend taking a break from the city life and enjoying them.

    If you’re looking to reconnect with nature while in Qatar, this is your guide to them as we collected the best of the country’s natural spots. Although some may be more of a struggle to reach than others, they are all incredible destinations.

    Flora & Fauna

    With Qatar’s desert climate, you’d think there is no flora and fauna in the country, but there certainly is. It is limited, but after it rains, the desert becomes a green oasis. You can find a variety of wildlife, including reptiles, birds, foxes, flamingos and of course, Qatar’s national animal, the Arabian Oryx.

    Khor Al Adaid

    More popularly known as the ‘Inland Sea’, this large tidal embayment is recognized by UNESCO World Heritage and currently included in its tentative list. It is also one of the top destinations in the country, known for its tranquility and breathtaking scenery. From here, you can see the neighboring country, Saudi Arabia from just beyond the dunes.

    Even though it’s usually said to be a sea or a lake, it’s not. It’s actually a creek surrounded by crescents of sand. It has its own ecosystem. It’s inaccessible by road and it’s one of the only places in the world that you’ll find the sea making its way deep into the desert.

    It is a favorite of not just those who love dune bashing but also camping, fishing, and photography enthusiasts too.

    How to get to the Inland Sea: If you’re taking your own 4×4 vehicle, go with a group as it is not advisable to drive there alone. Tires also have to be deflated before leaving Mesaieed. You can download Ooredoo’s Inland Sea app for more tips.

    Ras Abrouq rock formation (Zekreet)

    Cape of Ras Abrouq is the northernmost extension of the Zekreet Peninsula in western Qatar.

    Thanks to the forces of nature, the rock formation in the limestone pillars is shaped by coastal winds and erosion.

    Nearby, visitors can also enjoy a beach, a fort called ‘Film City’, the ancient 9th-century Murwab Fort, and Richard Serra’s famous steel sculpture called East-West/West-East.

    How to get to Ras Abrouq rock formation: if you’re not going with a tour group and taking your own 4×4, from Doha take the Dukhan Highway then turn right before Cuban Hospital. Drive straight then turn right offroad.

    Dahl Al Misfir Cave (Musfur Sinkhole)

    Among the natural wonders mentioned here, the 40-meter deep Dahl Al Misfir cave is little known to visitors. Believed to have been formed 325,000 to 500,000 years ago during the mid-Pleistocene Era, the sinkhole’s opening is enclosed by a chain-link fence. Visitors enter through a small gate to descend to the bottom of the ‘cave’.

    A mesmerizing cave formed of fibrous gypsum. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there at a time when it’s giving off a moon-like phosphorescent glow. The peninsula is also full of rose-shaped gypsum crystals, better known as desert roses.

    There is no particular pathway to navigate through the cave, so you’ll just need to step on the stones. You will find that the temperature starts to decrease as you go down.

    According to Visit Qatar, the cave can give off a phosphorescent glow thanks to gypsum deposits found inside.

    How to get to Dahl Al Misfir Cave: A 4×4 is recommended to get here as it involves offroad driving from Salwa Road and Rawdat Rashed Road.

    Al Thakira Mangroves

    The serpentine estuaries of Al Thakira are best explored by kayaking through the dense canals while listening to the tour guide explain how this area was formed and how important it is in the ecosystem. This Mangrove forest is one of the oldest and largest in Qatar and is also a popular fishing and birdwatching spot.

    Surrounded by desert landscapes, Al Thakira mangroves provide a special contrast of greenery. It’s quite a large vegetation area that attracts a variety of bird species, including herons and flamingos. There are some companies offering kayaking around the mangroves and it’s certainly a good way to experience the area.

    How to get to Al Thakira Mangroves: Although possible to reach with a sedan, it is safer to take a 4×4 if you’re not signed up for a kayak tour as it requires offroad driving to get to the coast where the Mangrove is. Click here for Google Maps location.

    Purple Island

    Another place known for its mangrove forest is an island in Al Khor known as Purple Island. It is also popular for its sunrise and sunset views. Visitors loved the new wooden bridge which makes the place convenient for families. Kids will have a fun time spotting birds, fishes, and crabs in the area.

    Like Al Thakira, boating and fishing are also popular here. There is also a nearby beach for those who want to swim.

    Purple Island is also known as Jazirat bin Ghannam and Al Khor Island. The name “Purple Island” originated from the sea snails that produce a dark red dye, whose remains are found on the island.

    According to Qatar Museums, “the island was probably never permanently inhabited but visited for specific reasons at different periods. It was a place of transit, a temporary campsite for trade with Bahrain and was used by fishermen or pearl divers as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE. Later though, the island was a production site for red-purple dye from shellfish during the Kassite Period. It was a camp for pearling expeditions during the Sassanian Period and a fishing outpost in the Late Islamic Period.”

    How to get to Purple Island: drive north to Al Khor via Shamal Highway and turn right before Al Meera Dhakira. Drive straight then turn right in the unpaved road to reach the Purple Island parking area. Click here for Google Maps location.

    We ask you to practice “Leave No Trace” principles when traveling in Qatar. This includes disposing of your waste properly, respecting wildlife, leaving what you find, and minimizing campfire impacts.

    Singing Sand Dunes

    The Singing Sand Dunes, also called whistling sand or barking sand, is a whistle like sound that comes from the wind blowing through the sand dunes outside Doha. The dunes must contain sand, which is between 1 to 5 mm in diameter, containing silica, and in a climate of a certain humidity.

    Qatar’s dunes are a huge attraction for anyone visiting or living in Qatar. Whether it’s for a recreation safari or enjoying the amazing views, the desert won’t disappoint.

    Ras Abrouq Rock Formations

    These are limestone rock formations carved by the wind, turning it into a lunar-like landscape with mushroom shapes. The Ras Abrouq peninsula is rather isolated but it has spectacular sandy beaches along with a wild deer reserve.

    Qatar’s Sea

    Stretching over a 560 km coastline, the sea is an integral part of Qatari life. With little to no opportunities for agriculture, fishing and pearl diving were quite popular and essential for generations. The water is rich with marine life, including the rare dugong, sea turtles, lionfish, dolphins and even whales.

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