The United Arab Emirates is home to many protected reserves that are often overlooked by tourists. But with the mild weather finally kicking in, it’s time to go off the beaten track and explore these nature reserves.

1. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai

Ras Al Khor is one of the few protected urban areas in the world. Sitting right at the peak of Dubai’s Creek, the wetland reserve attracts large numbers of migratory birds. Three bird reserves are currently located in the sanctuary.

You don’t want to miss the flamingo show in the winter (the reserve is home to about 500).

2. Wadi Wurayah, Fujairah

In 2009, Wadi Wurayah became the first Emirati protected mountain area after a three-year campaign by the Emirates Wildlife Society.

Looking for an off-road destination? Wadi Wurayah is your place. Famous for its scenic waterfall among the Hajar Mountains, the area is home to more than 100 species of mammals, birds and reptiles and more than 300 species of plants.

3. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

This resort is a protected haven for birds of Arabia which has contributed greatly to the habitat rehabilitation program in the area.

It has also reintroduced free-roaming herds of endangered species including oryz and other desert wildlife.

4. Khor Kalba, Sharjah

Spending a weekend in Sharjah? then this nature reserve is where your plans should be at. Khor Kalba is one of the “oldest and largest natural green sites on the east coast” in the UAE.

It’s home to endangered species including the Egret and Woodland Kingfisher.

5. Wasit Wetland Center, Sharjah

This nature reserve was originally a waste-water dump. In 2005, it underwent a rehabilitation process where over 30,000 trees were re-planted. It officially re-opened in 2015.

The wetland is located in between the land and the sea, featuring dunes and salty lagoons.