The Al Hefaiyah mountain conservation centre is a must-visit for all nature lovers. Sprawling across 12 sq. km in the Khol Kalba area. The Al Hefaiyah mountain conservation centre is home to numerous mountain and desert species. The Kalba centre also boasts indoor exhibits featuring scorpions, hedgehogs, snakes, lizards and much more.
There’s more, The Al Hefaiyah centre has large landscaped enclosures built for larger species like wolves, tahrs, caracal, desert lynx and Arabian leopards. In this article, we shall discuss all you need to know about this pristine conservation centre in Kalba.
How to get there?
About 130 kilometres east of Sharjah City on the main Sharjah-Kalba Road, the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center is situated at the foot of the Hajar Mountains on the fringes of Kalba. It takes about an hour and a half to drive to Kalba from Sharjah city, via the Maliha road. It is a beautiful drive along the highway, passing through several townships. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes as you draw closer to the coastal town of Kalba.
Timings and tickets
The entrance fee for the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center is 15 AED for adults. Children up to 12 years of age can visit free of charge. The centre remains open from Tuesday to Thursday (9:00 AM – 6:30 PM), Friday (2:00 PM – 6:30 PM), and Saturday and Sunday (11:00 AM – 6:30 PM). Plan your trip accordingly to make the most of your Kalba trip.
What to expect?
About 30 species are maintained in the Conservation Centre, a wildlife refuge and visitor centre. It has been lauded as a significant accomplishment in the UAE’s efforts to conserve endangered mountain species. It was developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority in 2016 and is maintained by the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
Let’s take a quick look at the flora and fauna you can expect at the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center.
In the centre’s many landscape enclosures, mountain wildlife is preserved in their original habitats. Many of these species were previously housed at Sharjah’s Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (BCEAW). Species native to the regions of Khor Fakkan, Wadi Al Helo, and Al Hajar mountains are maintained in this centre.
The Arabian leopard, gazelle, caracal, Arabian tahr, Arabian wold, striped hyena, and rock hyrax are only some of the numerous outdoor species found at the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center. Among these, the Arabian leopard, Arabian wolf and Arabian tahr are considered threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The conservation centre is also home to smaller species like hedgehogs, snakes and lizards. Around one-third of the animals at the centre are classified as critically endangered or vulnerable.
The centre has several hides set up so that visitors can view the animals in their natural habitat while touring the outside regions in golf buggies, along with their guides. It is a comfortable walk through air-conditioned pathways with animals and birds displayed in their natural habitats. The species are labelled with detailed explanations in both, Arabic as well as English.
The centre also serves as a venue for various events and art displays. A number of long-term pieces of art, including six sound installations by Khalid Mezaina, Bradley-Weaver, and Joris De Raedt, are housed in the centre. These were all commissioned by the EPPA (Environment and Protected Areas Authority).
Other attractions at Kalba
The Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center is not the only place worth a visit at Kalba. Kalba houses numerous attractions for tourists to enjoy. Plan a quiet picnic at the Al Hafiya picnic park or witness beautiful architecture at the Kalba fort or the Al Ghayl fort. If you are someone who loves hiking or camping, Kalba Adventures is a must-visit. Explore the local culture and traditions at the Hafarh and Tarif Kalba villages.
Over the last few years, Sharjah has been meaning remarkable progress in the conservation of native flora and fauna, especially endangered or threatened species. Al Hefaiyah is a wetland of significant international significance since the protected area has been classified as a Ramsar site. Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre uses landscape enclosures and creative exhibits to bring visitors up close to the flora and fauna of the mountains. It emphasizes the deep ties between the animals and terrain and local creativity and culture. Located at the base of the Hajar mountains outside Kalba, this conservation centre celebrates the rich biodiversity of the region.