By: Hamza Shafique
Environment and Protected Areas Authority Sharjah has a lot of conservation and learning centers. I had my eyes set on Al Hefaiyah Mountain conservation center since I have been to Wasit Wet Land Center. It took me a while to visit this one as this one was 128 Km away at the base of Hajjar Mountains outside of Kalba. Thanks to recent Easter long weekend, I could finally make this short road trip.
Wasit wetland learning center exceeded my expectations, which automatically raises the level of expectation with Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center. I took the road advised by Google Maps, from Ajman it took me approx. 2 hours to reach there with a stopover of 10 to 15 mins. I always try to drive with in speed limits and suggest for you the same. Overall Drive is pleasant and safe, with good scenery. Mountainous landscape on both side of the road is a visual treat. At times, you will also find your ears closing as you drive through varying altitudes on your way. However, in the last 20 mins of the drive I would advise to be cautious as road becomes single track with heavy truck traffic, that will slow you down and test your patience.
We reached the center at around 01:00PM. In first look, it seemed closed as the parking was empty and place felt a bit deserted so I parked and went to the ticket counter which was a small cabin decorated with vine plant. Lucky for us it was open, it’s just people prefer to visit around 4:00 PM in summer and we will soon know why.Center is divided in to two parts just like Wasit Wetland center. One indoor, air conditioned exhibition area and second outdoor, a golf cart ride through the facility. We were directed to the indoor section first.
At the entrance, there is a small hall sort of area with reception where the tickets are stamped and a Café. Indoor facility is like a huge corridor constructed around the animal enclosures. This Corridor can be divided in three parts, first part where we have animals like Arabian Leopard, Striped Hyaenas, Fox etc. then second part is bit darker and contains reptiles and fish in small vivariums installed on the wall and has creatures like Scorpions, snake, Lizard etc. Third section has relatively smaller animals including birds of prey and ends with a bigger cafeteria with a view of massive Arabian Gazelle enclosure.