Kalba is a quaint town that is described as an exclave of Sharjah that lies on the coastline bordering the Gulf of Oman. It is particularly well known for Khor Kalba or the Kalba creek, a swampy area populated by beautiful dense mangrove forests deemed to be the oldest in Arabia. It is also home to some of the most beautiful and rarest species of birds.
Kalba is recognized as a natural bioreserve that is known for its astounding flora and fauna. Some of the best attractions in Kalba is the Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamad Al Qasimi fort, the royal residence and the beautiful beach.
Photos of Kalba
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Places to Visit in Kalba
1. Kalba Birds of Prey Centre
The Bedouins roaming the Arabian Peninsula have long been engaged in training and hunting with birds of prey. Falconry continues to remain popular to this day. This center has live demonstrations displaying various raptors and highlighting their historical significance to the tourists. The outdoor shows take place twice a day while the aviaries containing owls, buzzards, eagles, falcons and vultures can be seen any time during the day. The center remains open for 6 days a week with Monday being a holiday.
2. Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre The wildlife enthusiasts have a field day looking at the 30 indigenous species of animals at the conservatory. The visitors are taken around in golf carts with a trained guide accompanying them to satisfy their queries about the desert and mountain creatures. The tourists can also observe the multiple species of snakes, lizards, scorpions and hedgehogs that are exhibited indoors while the large enclosures holding the predatory Arabian leopards, lynx, and wolves are truly awe inspiring.
3. Al Qurm Nature Reserve This area encompasses the mangrove forest and is famous for its large variety of marine life that includes the green turtles and its diverse bird population with the endangered Arabian-collared kingfisher being spotted here as well. The area is not open to visitors at the moment but the avid birdwatchers are welcome to sit in the nearby coffee shop and try to spot the birds through binoculars.
4. Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamad Al Qasimi Located in the east coast, this is a heritage house that has been converted into a museum. There are a number of Islamic collectibles on display here that are worth seeing. The museum charges AED 5 from adults for entering while children are allowed in free.
Things to Do in Kalba
1. Kayaking: Gliding through the thick mangrove forest in Khor Kalba in a kayak can be an exhilarating experience. It is possible to come across turtles, crabs, fish and even the endangered Arabian-collared kingfisher while floating through the creek.
2. Camping: There are a number of spots where the visitors can set up their tents and camp on the beach with the crystal clear waters surrounding them. There is no fee charged for camping at this site and most campers prefer to buy fresh fish from the fishermen hauling their nets in and dine on grilled fish cooked over a camp fire.
3. Hiking: The best to view Kalba in its entirety would be to hike along the scenic locations and rocky terrain. Hiking tours are not organized unlike the more touristy areas of Sharjah. However, visitors are free to hire a local expert for guiding them along the offbeat tracks.
4. Dune Bashing: Driving full throttle over a dune in the desert happens to be popular sport at Kalba. Big Red and the Fossil Rock, located within the Al Qurm Nature Reserve are deemed to the best locations for this particular activity while adventure seekers prefer desert biking amidst the marine fossils seen on the dunes.
5. Angling: Both amateurs as well as experienced fishers choose to try their hand at hooking prize catches of marlin, sailfish, dorado and the most popular yellow fin tuna. There are multiple tour operators offering to boat charters to the eager anglers as well.
History of Kalba
The remains and fossils uncovered in the dunes of Kalba goes back to 4000 BC. Originally known as Ghallah, the area was resident to numerous Bedouin Arab tribes as well as Baluchis and Persians who traded with the other Gulf regions and India via ten boats that traveled extensively in between ports. A slave named Barut controlled the region from the year 1902 and was the leading force when a survey of the Persian Gulf along with Oman was conducted by J. G. Lorimer in 1906.
There had been hundreds of skirmishes and infighting between the residents until the British declared it as a Trucial State in 1952. However, peace was short lived with more strife becoming evident with the establishment of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. A settlement was arrived in 1972 with the mediation of Sheikh Rashid of Dubai and several other rulers in the area.
Best Time to Visit
The months of November & December are considered to be the best time to visit Kalba.
1. It is best to wear light, airy clothing as sightseeing in the city with the humidity will get a bit exhausting. 2. Using sunscreen is a must with most visitors advised to shield their heads by an umbrella or hat while sitting on the beach or hiking during the day 3. Swimmers are cautioned to be on a lookout for jellyfish and snakes which are a rare sight but it is better to be cautious. 4. Public display of affection is strictly prohibited
How To Reach Kalba
Kalba is situated 120 kilometers to the east of Sharjah City. Visitors and locals without access to a self driven or hired vehicle can choose to take the public bus from Sharjah to Kalba. It takes around 157 minutes via Bus No. 13A and 63.
Regular buses: AED 38. Express buses: AED 255 to AED 312 with these you will reach the destination in an hour.