Zoo is size of 990 acre and located in the foothills of the Jebel Hafeet Mountains. It is home of over 4,000 animals out of which 30% of its 180 species considered endangered. The Zoo features Lions, Pumas, Jaguars, Giraffe, Rhinoceros, Arabian Leopard and many more. The main attraction of Zoo is while lion which is almost at extinct stage. It is said that there are less than 200 white lions remain in the world. The Zoo is widely filled with greenery and amuses visitors with its maintenance.
There are variety of tickets based on your ease and affordability. Standard entrance ticket is AED 30 for an adults and AED 10 for a child. If you are keen to explore SZDLC (Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre) along with Zoo, ticket price is AED 60 for an adult and AED 40 for a child. To have safari ticket which includes Zoo and Safari access, you need to pay AED 200 for an adult or AED 1,000 if you are in a group of 6 persons (maximum). For more details, you can navigate to Al Ain Zoo official site http://www.alainzoo.ae/en/en-visit/en-tickets-groupbookings.html.
There is another private tour operator named Ahlan which gives you a private tour service with in the Zoo and cost you around AED 750 with maximum of 5 adults and 2 children. If you explore on internet, you may get some good discount deals on this service if booking is made in advance.
Within the Zoo
To save some time, we booked our tickets with Ahlan operators which promised us to cover the entire park in 2 hours so that we can be free by 5:30 PM. Since we had to head to Jebel Hafeet Mountain (to have sunset view) just after the Zoo, we didn’t want to take the chance.
Though it was mid of September, we didn’t feel much of heat in the open area or rather it was because of we had a private vehicle to roam around. In the Zoo, we saw almost all the animals and bird species which we were expecting. However I would recommend it to visit during winter season since some of the animals were inside their A/C rooms. Along with open Zoo area, there is a separate indoor place for Birds and Penguins. Though there are not many bird species, still the place is worth visiting.
Inside there is a cafe named Zarafa for refreshments. There are both options available for Veg and Non-Veg. Price is reasonable and food quality is good.
Jebel Hafeet Drive
By the time we were free from Zoo, it was around 6.10 PM and sunset was about to happen in next 15 minutes. We tried our best but by the time we reached to the top of Mountain, it was already dark. But we had our luck since on the way to top of Mountain, we got one sunset point where we could park and got some memorable clicks.
Drive to Jebel Hafeet Mountain was an amazing experience for sure. The 11.7 KM stretch by cutting the rocky terrain and adding to the panorama view as you get closer to its 1,249 meter high peak gives you a sense of satisfaction that you got what you expected. It is one of the most beautiful drive rated by various international magazines and websites.
There are two lanes in the upwards direction and one coming down, and there’s an excellent sight lines to ensure that drive is smooth for the drivers. Since it is a rocky area, you need to be responsibly driving and ensure the safety of others. Sometimes there are cyclists and sprinters also on the way to train themselves.
Once you reach on the top, there is a nice open area from where you can have an exceptional wide view of the city. The temperature is slightly low there as compared to the normal city temperature which is a definite plus. To refresh yourself, there is a cafe on the top. Tea, Juices, Burgers and much more to enjoy there.
A personal request to visitors not to paint mountains with their personal messages. Maintain the beauty and charm of the mountains in its natural way.
Things to Remember
- Depending on the climate, you need to be alert of what to wear. If it’s summer, don’t forget to carry shades and a hat. If it’s winter, Al Ain is comparatively cold when compares to Dubai. Be prepared to carry winter jacket and a warm scarf.
- In Zoo, you can carry food stuff so enjoy some snacks when on the way.
- If you are going to cover Zoo by walk, keep minimum of 4 hours plan.
- On top of Jebel Hafeet, family comes to have a picnic. So you can too also have a good time on the top. Be well equipped with all the necessary stuff and enjoy your day!
- Would suggest to start your day little early so you can have a nice sunset view from the top.
It was an amazing day out with family and friends. We enjoyed every bit of it. I would rate it 4 out of 5 and would recommend to visit at least for once.