Category Archives: UAE Nature

Wadi Shees

Wadi Shees nestles between the Hajar Mountains and a drive down can lead you in different directions, but all to the Omani enclave of Madha.

The wadi is now much more accessible from the new Khor Fakkan road. Coming from the west, look out for the large sign at the side of the road marking the entrance to the Khor Fakkan area of Sharjah emirate (Welcome to Khor Fakkan – you can’t miss it.) Take the next exit to Shees and drive carefully as it has lots of steep slopes, bends, blind peaks and corners and it turns into one track. If you are coming from Khor Fakkan, the exit is straight after Al Ghezeer Tunnel.

On your left, you can stop at Shees pools. The first small pool is drinking water but further down there are pools where you can paddle or swim or even dive when the water is deep enough. You can go through the pool to the back where there is a narrow entrance to the next pools, but you cannot see them from the road. You can picnic at the same area although that spot gets busy at the weekend and on holidays.

Further down still is the old residential area of Shees, which is well worth a visit if you can manage the climb up a hundred or so steps. Walk through the village and notice the intricate underground falaj system for irrigating the farms and the mosque that was earlier the house where Sheikh Sultan used to stay when he visited. Continue through the farms, enjoy the view over the mountains, learn about farming and the biodiversity in the area from the information signs along the way and look out for trees with interesting shapes and wonderful roots growing down rock faces. The path will eventually take you back down to the road where you can walk back up to your car.

Further down the road, pass Shees Health Centre and Sharjah Co-op (preferably on the tourist bypass road) and then you can only be in awe at the deep wadi you’re driving through and the huge rocks jutting out that look like they might fall on you at any moment!

Look out for goats higher up climbing over precarious edges with the greatest of ease. Can you spot the baby goat in the photo below?

When you receive a text message from Ooredoo, you know you’ve crossed into Omani territory. When you reach the fork, you can turn left up the single track road up the hill or right through the farms. There’s also an option to go straight. All roads, especially straight, need a four wheel drive to go down and come out at the other end but you can go left or right a bit further without one. If you turn left, the road will take you to Al Nahwa, an exclave of Sharjah inside the Omani enclave. The road takes you through mountains, open plains and lush oases. Carrying on further still, you will come out in Mirbah, Fujairah, which is just south of Khor Fakkan.

You will lose signal as you get deeper whichever road you take so make sure you’re prepared for any emergencies and then sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

(Note: Don’t confuse Wadi Shees with Wadi Shie which is further into Khor Fakkan. You will also see it written Chees on the Oman side. There is no border point as it is surrounded by the UAE. )

Umm al Quwain Mangrove Forest

If you are like me and enjoy walking on a natural surface surrounded by nature, or if you enjoy bird-watching, this is a place for you. You can walk, cycle or drive the full length of the mangrove forest (approx. 9 km) And if you go on a weekday morning, you’re unlikely to meet anyone on your way. (Well, you might meet me!)

At either end of the forest, there are small beaches to sit and admire the view, watch out for local or migrating birds or just enjoy the peace away from city life. It’s a stop off point for many migrating birds and birds found living there include Western Reef Heron, Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Socotra Cormorant along with sandpipers, plovers, shrikes and many more. You might even be lucky enough to spot a Greater Spotted Eagle or a Kingfisher.

You can also enjoy the mangroves from the other side by renting a kayak or taking a kayak tour. There are tours of different lengths and at different times of day including sunset. You might see crabbers out and you can also join nighttime crabbing tours from the Flamingo Hotel.

Please note that swimming and fishing are strictly prohibited here.