I have been living in Doha, Qatar for quite sometime now, but I must say that the places I’ve visited are limited only to those that are close to the city. This is the reason why I told myself to get out more often in order to be familiar with what Qatar has to offer, especially now that it is opening its doors for tourism.
Last Friday, a friend invited me over to join them on a road trip to explore some places outside Doha. I said yes, thinking that the weather was already perfect for road trips. But I was wrong, it was still 40 something degrees Celsius in the desert that time and the heat of the sun still burned our skin. Nonetheless, we still had a great time and I am happy to share with you the places that we have visited.
Al Dosari Zoo and Game Reserve
Al Dosari Zoo and Game Reserve is a private property owned by the AlDosari family, which is available for the public to visit. Apart from the zoo, this attraction also have a museum, picnic / barbeque area, swimming pool and playground.
Upon our arrival, we first visited the museum where you can see taxidermied birds and animals, preserved marine life and some heritage articles.
Museum entrance and lobby.
The different sections of the museum. L-R: Wild Animal Section, Birds Section, Marine Section and Heritage Section.
Afterwards, we explored the outdoors where we saw various animals (oryx, camel, horses, ostrich and more) that are caged, as well as the areas where visitors can hang out, dine and play.
My first time to see an oryx, the National animal of Qatar.
The green area of the zoo. There are small huts, tables and chairs located around, available for use by the visitors.
The place could have been a great attraction for families and friends, as it is like an oasis in the middle of the desert. However, based on my observation, the whole site is not properly maintained. The animals look unhealthy and weak, not sure though if it is just because of the hot weather. I hope that the management of the zoo will do something about it, especially now that they charge an entrance fee, which I think should be used to keep everything in place.
Opening Times: Everyday 6:00 am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 5:30pm
– There are acrobatic and magic shows every Thursdays and Fridays at 4:00pm.
Entrance fee: QR 10 (USD 2.75)
Contact numbers: +974 4490-8785 / +974 5557-7847
FYI: The road leading to the zoo is fully paved. There are establishments inside where you can buy food and drinks.
Camel racing is considered a traditional sport and leisure among people living in the whole Gulf region. Here in Qatar, camel races are held every year, and it usually runs from October to April. This activity is enjoyed not only by the citizens and residents of Qatar, but also by some tourists who flew to the country just to watch it.
The Camel Racetrack at Al Shahaniyah is a few minute drive from the Al Dosari Zoo and Game Reserve, which is why it was our second destination on this road trip. There was nothing really going on when we arrived (around noon), we didn’t even see a camel. The huge racetrack left me in awe and it sparked my interest to watch a camel race soon.
Braving the heat, just to have a picture at the Camel Racetrack.
FYI: The road leading to the racetrack is fully paved. There are establishments near the racetrack where you can buy food and drinks.
Al Zubarah Fort
Al Zubarah Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site declared in 1993. Built in 1938 to serve as a military fortress, it was later turned into a museum and eventually became a famous landmark in Qatar.
The structure of the fortress is quite impressive, its thick walls are made of coral stones. Once inside, you can explore the ground floor where you can see the courtyard and the 15 meter deep well. There are various rooms along the sides which houses some archaeological artifacts found within its vicinity, as well as exhibits that narrates the history of this place. The fortress got a second floor, however you wont be allowed to go up.
The courtyard and the doors to some of the rooms.
The hallway and the well.
Opening Times: Daily from 8:00am to 6:00pm, and close every Friday morning.
Entrance fee: Free
FYI: The road going to the Fort is fully paved. No establishments around the area to buy food. You have to cover yourself if you are wearing shorts or skirts that is above the knee. The guard can lend you one in case you don’t have something to cover you up.
Abandoned Fishing Village at Al Jemail
Not far from the Al Zubarah Fort are the ruins of the 3 abandoned fishing villages of Al Areesh, Al Kuwair and Al Jemail. During this road trip, we only got to visit the latter.
These villages were built at the beginning of the 19th century and was fully abandoned around 1970s.
The beach and the rocks from the collapsed houses.
Once you roamed around, you can clearly see how simple (because their source of living is mainly from fishing and pearl hunting) yet difficult (because road access is limited and their village is far from the main city) life may have been to the settlers.
There are some houses and structures whose walls are still intact.
The ruins of the Mosque (stands in the middle of the village) and its Minaret. Photo credits: Christinelyn Espinosa
FYI: It is advisable to use a 4×4 vehicle when going to the Abandoned Villages as the roads are bumpy and unpaved. There are no establishments to buy food, but you can bring some and have a picnic over the beach (we’ve seen some families doing this). But be sure to carry your trash with you once you leave the vicinity.
It was already around 5:00pm when we left the abandoned village. Before heading back to Doha, we filled our tummy with tasty chicken shawarma at a local restaurant.
There are still a lot of places that I need to explore here in Qatar. I hope that this will just be the start of the many road trips to come, especially now that the weather is cooling and getting better.
Do you like road trips? Where are you planning to go on your next road trip? Let me know about it on the comment section below.
What you Need to Know when doing Road Trips in Qatar:
- Make sure that your vehicles are in good condition and have sufficient petrol, since it may be a bit hard to locate a gas station.
- Bring some food and plenty of water.
- Phones and Cameras should be fully charged.
- Whatever season you go, always have your sunblock with you, to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Dress comfortably and according to the season. It may be extremely cold during winter.
- You can use Google Maps or Waze to locate these places.
Note: We used a friend’s 4×4 vehicle when we did this road trip. I am not quite sure if public transportation is available to get to these places, but you may check out the website of Mowasalat here to know their bus routes. For tourists, you may ask your hotels for information on transportation. See below the routes that we took.
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P.S.: Some information were taken from Wikipedia and Explore Qatar.