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Pictorial Guide of 10 Attractions in Bahrain for Nature Lovers

The immigration officer looked at our passports and stamped it with visitor visa and said, “Welcome to Bahrain, Sir. Enjoy our country.”

This was a friendly greeting that we experienced everywhere in Bahrain. Thanks to my younger brother and his beautiful family living there, we visited this small island country for 11 days in December of 2015 and then again for four days in April 2016 and enjoyed every bit of it. The added fun was that my other brother and his beautiful family also joined us from the Saudi city of Alkhobar.

We were three brothers and our families reuniting after 11 years and we had a blast, thanks primarily to the planning of my sister-in-law.

Covering all the touristic destinations of this small country is next to impossible. Therefore, as a nature lover, here are 10 destinations that I recommend other nature lovers make sure to see in this country.

1. Bahrain National Museum

Nature lovers should always start from the museum that exhibits natural features of the region. We started our trip of Bahrain from Bahrain National Museum that has 11 galleries.

The museum possesses a rich collection of Bahrain's ancient archaeological artifacts, and the culture and lifestyle of Bahrain's recent pre-industrial past. Natural History Hall, focusing on the natural environment of Bahrain, was added in 1993. This hall features specimens of Bahrain's plant and animal life. Among the exhibits in the ancient history section is an actual burial mound, which was transported from its site in the desert and reassembled in the museum

An exhibit showing village life of Bahrain.
An exhibit showing village life of Bahrain. | Source
A painting depicting early hunters of the region and prey animals.
A painting depicting early hunters of the region and prey animals. | Source
Some members of the entourage are watching traditional ships (dhows) sailing over the gulf waters.
Some members of the entourage are watching traditional ships (dhows) sailing over the gulf waters. | Source
Another exhibit showing the traditional way of Bahraini women contributing to the economy of their village household.
Another exhibit showing the traditional way of Bahraini women contributing to the economy of their village household. | Source

2. Qalat Al Bahrain (Manama)

Qal'at al-Bahrain or Fort of Bahrain captured six elements that won our appreciation: (1) It was an ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun civilization that flourished 2500 years ago, and is an archaeological tell (an artificial hill formed over time by successive occupations), (2) a sea tower about 1600 m North-West of the tell, built more recently by the Portuguese, (3) a sea channel through the reef near the sea tower where we were able to observe crabs by the hundreds, (4) distant view of the modern high rises, (5) a museum educating on the archaeological tell and the artifacts, and (6) palm-groves of a nearby village.

The fort is situated in the Northern Governorate, in Al Qalah village district on the northern coast about 5.5 km West of Manama, the present capital of Bahrain.

We started by first visiting the Museum and then walked along the sea channel and across the archaeological site to the fort. From the fort itself and from the pathways along the periphery, a nature lover could take in all the scenery.

Pre-history meets modernity: Archaeological site in the foreground and the modern buildings of Manama in the far background (December 2015).
Pre-history meets modernity: Archaeological site in the foreground and the modern buildings of Manama in the far background (December 2015). | Source
Women and children of our entourage walking under the arches supporting the roof of the fort (December 2015).
Women and children of our entourage walking under the arches supporting the roof of the fort (December 2015). | Source
Watch-tower of the fort (December 2015)
Watch-tower of the fort (December 2015) | Source
Outer wall of the fort facing plantation (December 2015)
Outer wall of the fort facing plantation (December 2015)
Some pottery excavated from the archaeological site and placed in the Museum (December 2015).
Some pottery excavated from the archaeological site and placed in the Museum (December 2015). | Source

3. Al Dar Island (Southern Bahrain)

We found Al Dar Island to be a hidden treasure in Bahrain. It resembles a Mediterranean beach resort with sparkling waters and offering water based activities like swimming, kayaking, pearl collecting, fishing, scuba diving, boating, etc.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a significant number of waterfowl calling the island home in the warm weather of April.

We also found that the visitors numbers was regulated and therefore, beach was not over-crowded. Good wooden huts, shower facilities and several decent restaurants were available.

My brother had booked the visit to island in advance, which is a requirement. We had to present our passports at the Port Office before embarking on the ferry to Al Dar. The Port Office itself is located in Sitra Fisherman's Port, which is another 20-minute drive from Manama.

My younger brother pedals his kayak from quite far off in the waters back to our picnic spot (April 2016).
My younger brother pedals his kayak from quite far off in the waters back to our picnic spot (April 2016). | Source
Common tern perching over historical structure now submerged in the gulf waters (April 2016).
Common tern perching over historical structure now submerged in the gulf waters (April 2016). | Source
A rare Socotra Cormorant looking for fish (April 2016).
A rare Socotra Cormorant looking for fish (April 2016). | Source

4. The Desert—Camping and Ascending a Hill (Southern Bahrain)

My brother had already booked a camp for all of us (eight adults and three kids). Everything at the campsite was well prepared in advance. All we did was board in two SUVs and reach it.

The camp was enclosed in a compound and in accordance with the local traditions, had three large size tents for general sitting area, for women and for men. There was a campfire area where we all sat down in the late evening and got the fire and the games going. But before that, the nature lover in all of us found time to ascend a nearby hill that turned out to be quite a daunting task.

The almost flat top strewn with small pebbles offered views of the surroundings in all directions. The setting of sun kept us captivated. The top also revealed that the whole area must have been under the sea millions of years ago. And even in this sun and wind exposed environment plants had found a niche to grow.

My younger brother and I were eager to see some Rhim (or Sand) Gazelles that reportedly inhabit the desert, but all our attempts to find them went in vain.

Who would know that we would be able to see them (a buck, a doe, and a fawn) taking a mid-day respite from scorching heat of 38 C under the gas pipeline, very close to where we were camped, only four months later.

Some members of the entourage climbing up the barren and rocky hill (December 2015).
Some members of the entourage climbing up the barren and rocky hill (December 2015). | Source
A view from the mid-way point of the hill. Camels walk pass by our camp in the background (December 2015).
A view from the mid-way point of the hill. Camels walk pass by our camp in the background (December 2015). | Source
This shrub has found a niche to grow on the wind swept rocky top of the hill (December 2015).
This shrub has found a niche to grow on the wind swept rocky top of the hill (December 2015). | Source
Campfire (December 2015).
Campfire (December 2015). | Source
Rhim gazelle (male) resting under the shade provided by the oil pipeline running through the scorching desert (April 2016).
Rhim gazelle (male) resting under the shade provided by the oil pipeline running through the scorching desert (April 2016). | Source

5. Arad Bay Wildlife Protected Area and Park (Muharraq)

This was an amazing place to observe waterfowls of the mangroves. It is a 3 km circular track that the visitors normally use for jogging and walking.

We were the odd people out as we were observing waterfowl. Due to the migrant population of winters, the waters were teeming with waterfowl – flamingos, western reef herons, Eurasian curlews, common redshanks, common sandpipers, intermediate egrets, so on and so forth. On and around the tracks, adjoining grassy fields, and trees, we could observe Eurasian collared doves, rock doves, red vented bulbuls and white cheeked bulbuls.

Since it got chilly mid-way of our trip, we flocked to a local tea shop and had cardamom tea to give our bodies a welcome respite and something to warm up on.

Dancing flamingos (December 2015).
Dancing flamingos (December 2015). | Source
A western reef heron (December 2015).
A western reef heron (December 2015). | Source
A Eurasian curlew (December 2015).
A Eurasian curlew (December 2015). | Source

6. The Tree of Life (Southern Bahrain)

Back to our winter trip, when our attempts to find Sand Gazelles failed, at least I was more than satisfied when we took a detour and visited The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat), which is an approximately 400 year-old, 9.75 m (32 ft) high Prosopis cineraria tree.

The tree stands on top of a 7.6 m (25 ft) high sandy tell that formed around a 500-year-old fortress. Since October 2010, archaeologists have unearthed pottery and other artifacts in the vicinity of the tree, some of which may date back to the Dilmun civilization.

In order to get to the Tree, we started from the Visitor Centre close to the road. It is designed to provide a protective circular fence that protects the tree from the traffic on the road. When we visited the Visitor Centre it showcased some archaeological artifacts, which were uncovered on site and photographic exhibits.

The walk from the Visitor Centre to the Tree is easy and breezy. How does this Tree obtain water for growth remains a mystery but one can guess that there is an underground fresh water aquifer close by.

Some members of the entourage hiking toward the Tree (December 2015).
Some members of the entourage hiking toward the Tree (December 2015). | Source
Span of the Tree (December 2015).
Span of the Tree (December 2015). | Source
Leaves of the Tree (December 2015).
Leaves of the Tree (December 2015). | Source

7. Al Areen Wildlife Park (Southern Bahrain)

The first things we noted about this zoo were its cleanliness and landscaping. The entrance opens up to family friendly pathways and ponds populated by waterfowl. Due to the friendly atmosphere and abundance of nutritional food, local wild birds like Eurasian collared dove, crested larks, red vented bulbuls, white cheeked bulbuls, cattle egrets, etc. also frequent the park.

The zoo has a fairly decent population of wild animals. Many animals like Egyptian vulture, Saker falcon, Arabian wolves, Oryx, dromedaries, Saluki dogs (yes, unfortunately, they have kept a few of them in clean pens), etc. native to Gulf countries.

You can buy tickets for boarding buses that do a drive around a special large section with a 15 minute break at ponds where several species of waterfowl are kept. This is a trip that any nature lover will like, but a note of caution is in order here: Don’t expect professionalism of a European or North American (USA/Canada) operations, especially toward the end of the day.

Axis deer (January 2016)!
Axis deer (January 2016)! | Source
Emu from Australia (January 2016).
Emu from Australia (January 2016). | Source
Few ponds had ducks by the hundreds (January 2016).
Few ponds had ducks by the hundreds (January 2016). | Source
Pony ride is quite popular with children (January 2016).
Pony ride is quite popular with children (January 2016). | Source

8. Shaikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort (Southern Bahrain)

I found this fort to be an absolute masterpiece of architectural beauty and picturesque location. Sitting on top of a hill, the fort and the almost vertical cliffs overlooking the valley down below sent some chills down the spines and provided stunningly enchanting views at the same time.

The external and internal architectural design of the well maintained fort was impressive. At dusk, the setting of sun against a mosque located in the distant planes provided an ideal finishing touch to this trip.

Back of the Fort that faces a sheer precipice (January 2016).
Back of the Fort that faces a sheer precipice (January 2016). | Source
Fort tower and the precipice (January 2016).
Fort tower and the precipice (January 2016). | Source
Main entrance to the Fort is quite appealing (January 2016).
Main entrance to the Fort is quite appealing (January 2016). | Source
View from top of the roof of the fort (January 2016).
View from top of the roof of the fort (January 2016). | Source
Sun setting behind a distant mosque (January 2016).
Sun setting behind a distant mosque (January 2016). | Source

9. Saar Archaeological Site (Burial Mounds)—Northern Bahrain

My brother, son, and a niece hiked to the burial grounds. On the way, crested larks, beetles, and a wary feral dog amused us. We also saw a hole where a snake had laid its eggs. But the show was stolen by a pair of Namaqua doves. Smallest of the dove family, these birds were busy pecking at seeds of some wild plants.

At Saar (named after the closest modern village), burial mounds dating back to the Dilmun and the Umm an-Nar Civilizations of and later eras, can be observed. The Dilmun Civilization has been found to be trading with Mesopotamian and Indus Valley Civilizations 2500 years ago.

Observing the graves.
Observing the graves. | Source
A close look at the excavated graves.
A close look at the excavated graves. | Source
This must have been a tomb of a well respected person holding senior position.
This must have been a tomb of a well respected person holding senior position. | Source
An excavated well.
An excavated well. | Source
Eggs laid down by a snake.
Eggs laid down by a snake. | Source

10. The Camel Farm (Northern Bahrain)

My two brothers, son, and two nieces went to see the Camel Farm on the King Fahad Causeway. There were camels everywhere, but there is no activity other than watching the great animals either hobbled or in their pens.

Well, of course, we took lots of pictures and the birder in me was able to take shots of a cattle egret and a feral pigeon by the camels, both proving that they are very adaptable birds. The entrance to farm is free and one can use its pathways to do brisk walking every day, if you want to.

Camels
Camels | Source
Feeding time for the camels.
Feeding time for the camels. | Source
A cute beast of burden all across the desertss of the world.
A cute beast of burden all across the desertss of the world. | Source

Where to Stay and What to Eat?

Bahrain is a very well developed country with a number of hotels ranging from two to five stars. Also, there are a number of restaurants and international franchises that cater to the local population and the tourists.

One such place for traditional Bahrain breakfast is Emmawash, where we were personally welcomed by the owner Abdullah Isa Al Aradi. He also presented us with a book listing 100 destinations in Bahrain to visit.

Please see the video below.

Comments 10 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Linda (AliciaC),

Thank you very much for reading my article and leaving a nice comment.

We were pleasantly surprised by the touristic resources of this small country, including its wildlife.

Regards,

Suhail


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very interesting article, Suhail. I loved learning about Bahrain by reading your descriptions and looking at your photographs. My favourite photo is the one with all the ducks. What a lovely sight!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi FlourishAnyway,

The country does get its fare amount of tourists, especially from Europe and Australia and the wealthy folks from Saudi Arabia. Indeed, many westerners have adopted it as their permanent residence. It is very safe country. Languages spoken include Arabic, English, Urdu and Hindi. Camel farm is one man's love and respect for the animals. No, they don't eat them. They seem to be pets and well cared for. However, the love for animals, as we know it in our part of the world, is just not there. Animal rights are simply non-existent. Yet, when I looked at the efforts of the country toward its animals, I was impressed.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Fuzail.

It was very kind of you and Asfa and Kanza to visit us from Saudi Arabia on both the visits. It was a blast!


Fuzail Zubaid Ahmad 4 weeks ago

I have often visited Bahrain for fun and shopping and I must say that in this country, there is more Westerner and non Arab nationals density than most other Arab countries i have visited. This is a beautiful blog piece, Suhail. Absolutely loved it.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

This was very interesting, and it makes me wonder why the country doesn't have more tourism? How is the safety for Westerners? Languages spoken? I particularly enjoyed the photos. The camels are very expressive, and there were so many ducks in that pond. I'm almost afraid to ask about the camel farm -- do they eat them?


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Mary,

Thank you for reading my hub and leaving detailed comments, which show your interest. Here is my response to your observations:

The shots in the desert were taken at different times of the year. The ones in jackets are from our first visit in December 2015-January 2016. Searing temperatures are from our 2nd visit in April 2016.

We noted that people hang around in shopping malls, restaurants and coffee houses more than they do in outdoors. Most of the outdoor spots, museums, and forts were poorly attended, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us.

As regards pots, I tend to think that they displayed only the intact ones :-), but then my guess is as good as yours.

I was captivated by the arches. I am a civil engineer by education and love those architectural masterpieces, as they tend to be self load bearing and stabilizing structures.

Thank you once again for looking at the pictures in detail and for providing valuable feedback..

Regards,

Suhail and my dog K2


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 4 weeks ago from Brazil

Wonderful photos. During the day you said it got up to 38°C but in the evening your family are wearing jackets. Does it fluctuate that much or were those taken at different times?

I am surprised that there weren't more people around.

We too are bird watchers and always appreciate seeing images of birds from various locations.

Also I was amazed that so many of those pots were discovered unbroken. I suspect there were many or skilled archaeologists.

I love the image of your family walking through the arches at the fort. That is a great photo as you've captured the arches very well.

Some people would look at a desert scene and see nothing to photograph, yet an observant person sees many things.

Thanks for sharing this collection of images.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Dr. Mark,

Thank you for reading the hub, leaving comments and the suggestion. I will caption the shots now. It makes sense.


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

Ive never been able to visit Bahrain so I enjoyed seeing your photos. I just wish they had captions since I did not know what all of them are about. What is the photo just above number 10?

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