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Flamingo migration in Qatar

Every year during the winter season, hundreds of flamingos flock to Qatar’s shores on their annual migration from Europe and Siberia to Africa. From November to April, you can catch a glimpse of the Greater flamingo, the largest living species in the flamingo family, averaging 110–150 cm tall and weighing 2–4 kg, at various spots along Qatar’s 563-kilometre coastline.

In recent years, ornithologists have discovered that the Al Thakira Mangrove Forest, one of Qatar’s natural wonders, is a favorite resting spot for these elegant birds.  In these wetlands, they are able to wade in shallow, salty waters, and can easily feed on fish and other crustaceans. Approximately 50 kilometers north of Doha, near the city of Al Khor, Al Thakira is one of Qatar's oldest and largest mangroves reserves, rich in biodiversity and a green oasis in an otherwise desert area.

The dense mangroves at Al Thakira offer a protected environment for wildlife and are an ideal spot for nature lovers. One of the few trees that can grow and thrive in the high levels of salinity that characterise the Arabian Gulf, Qatar’s mangroves are teeming with life, attracting fish and crabs, birds and other migratory birds including gulls, cormorants and waders, geese, mallard and teal.

Just around the corner from Al Thakira, and another popular resting spot for flamingos on their stopover journey, is Al Khor Island, also known as bin Ghanem or Purple Island.  Once a prominent site for dye production, particularly the purple dye for which it earned its moniker, the island formerly served as a temporary campsite for fishermen or pearl divers as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE.

Kayaking and SUP (Standup paddle board) rentals are available from several tour operators in the area and can be booked in advance, with outfitters offering both sunrise and sunset trips for individuals and groups. Seasoned guides accompany paddlers, pointing out the area’s unique flora and fauna to the untrained eye.

Visitors can make the most of their kayaking experience with an overnight camping trip, where they will get a taste of Qatar’s renown hospitality.  Camping in traditional Bedouin tents under starry skies, the excursions include breakfast and dinner, an African Drumming show and sunrise yoga.

Book the activity

365 Adventures and Blue Pearl Experience are local tour operators that provide this activity.

As part of the Qatar National Vision, renewed efforts are being made to protect these areas, as well as the species that flock there- native or visiting, to ensure a pristine environment for decades to come.