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SIR BANIYAS , DESERT ISLAND

Sir BaniYas Island’s name originates from the BaniYas tribe who first inhabited Abu Dhabi. The Island was created millions of years ago when natural geological forces created the “salt dome” island that is present today. The first human settlers arrived several thousand years ago, long before people set foot on what was later to become the United Arab Emirates.

Forty-two phenomenal archaeological sites have been discovered throughout Sir BaniYas Island, each providing a distinct insight into the island’s history. One of the oldest sites is the remains of a Nestorian Christian monastery, which dates back to 600 AD.

In 1971, the Island was established as a nature reserve by the late ruler and founder of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He started his incredible visionary ‘Greening of the Desert’ programme on Sir BaniYas. It was designed to make the UAE’s deserts more habitable for human settlement and provide a sanctuary for Arabia’s endangered wildlife.

In the recent years, the Island has been transformed into the vibrant wildlife sanctuary it is today. Under Sheikh Zayed’s patronage, several million trees were planted and countless animal species were introduced to the Island including the Giraffe, Cheetah, Hyena, Oryx and Ostrich. He recognised the need to preserve animals that were at risk from extinction, particularly within the UAE and Arabian Peninsula, and his vision has led to the establishment of the Arabian Wildlife Park; which at 4,100 hectares covers just over half of the Island to assist with breeding and rehabilitation, and an environment for thousands of animals to roam freely around a large area.

Sir BaniYasiS a destination that welcomes travellers of all ages. We look forward to welcoming you soon, and guiding you into discovering more about Sir BaniYas Island’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

LAND & WATER ACTIVITY TOURS IN SIR BANIYAS

NATURE & WILD LIFE DRIVE TOUR

Embark on a 4X4 adventure and prepare for an amazing experience led by our expert guides. You will lay eyes on some of our beautiful free-roaming wildlife, which includes predators such as the fierce Cheetah, the peacefully elegant Flamingo and grand Reticulated Giraffe; just to name a few . Sir BaniYas Island is also home to breath-taking geological formations and archaeological remains, which you will be able to see and learn more about during the drive.

Suitable for: 1 year old +.

Duration: Approximately 2 hours.

Group size: Seven people may participate in this activity at one time as the vehicles seat 7 guests. Buses are used in peak periods or for large groups. What to bring: Camera, comfortable clothing (warm for winter/cool for summer) and your sense of adventure.

Where it is: Across Sir BaniYas Island including the Arabian Wildlife Park.

What you might see: Indigenous and non-indigenous flora and fauna, archaeological sites and beautiful geological formations.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

ARCHERY EXPERIENCE

Take centre stage whilst perfecting your aim and involve yourself in the traditional Arabic sport of archery. At Sir BaniYasIsland,Full training and equipment available for beginners and enthusiasts, helping you perfect your technique. Our expert guides will be on hand to give you useful tips and instructions. You will be provided with a bow and arrows, and will be able to practice with targets from as close as 5 metres to as far as 20 metres! There are a variety of bows for you to choose from; small ones for children, large, easy to handle ones for aSuitable for: Ages 6 and above.

Duration: 1-1.5 hours.

Group size: Up to 6 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Camera, hat, sporting pants, sports shoes and sunglasses.

Where it is: On the archery course just south of the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara.

What you might see: The archery range is located in a nice wadi. On route to the range you might spot a number of cute rock hyrax dwelling in the trees. You will also be able to see gazelles and enjoy the views as the sun hits the surrounding wadis.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

dults and professional bows for use by experienced archers.

DESERT ISLAND NATURE WALKS

Why not stroll down to the eastern side of the island and embark on a journey with one of our tour guides to learn about the flora and fauna of Sir BaniYas Island? You may even be greeted by some of our incredible free-roaming wildlife around the island, so we suggest you have your cameras ready! The walk can be booked with the Activities Reservations Coordinator at the Activities Centre.

Suitable for: 6 years +.

Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours.

Group size: Up to 7 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Camera, hat, hiking shoes and sunglasses.

Where it is: East side enclosure.

What you might see: Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Axis deer, Urial sheep, and Red Deer.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

DESERT MOUNTAIN BIKING

Explore the ever changing scenery of Sir BaniYas Island on an exhilarating mountain bike adventure. Our mountain-biking tracks cater for both experienced and inexperienced riders, and take a variety of exciting on and off road trails through the Arabian Wildlife Park, wadis, beaches and lagoons. There are two mountain biking routes for you to choose from. The blue route is a non-strenuous route that is suitable for all fitness levels. This beautiful scenic route follows the road around the lagoon and then winds through some small, sandy wadi hills. The purple route perfect for the more advanced riders and requires a higher level of fitness. It winds through some small wadis before climbing through the hilltops with striking views.

Suitable for: 6 year old +. Moderate fitness is required for the standard route and you must be able to ride a bike. Carriages are available for children under five years old. Please note that helmets are mandatory for all.

Duration: Mountain biking tours take approximately 1 to 2 hours.

Group size: Up to 10 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Camera, hat, sporting pants, sports shoes and sunglasses.

Where it is: The basic route travel along the lagoon by the hotel and through a nearby wadi, while the more advanced one follows a route though the wadis in the Arabian Wildlife Park.

What you might see: A variety of animals, lagoons, beaches and wadis.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

HORSE RIDING

Why not come and explore Sir BaniYas Stables? For horse lovers, this is the perfect opportunity to learn about horses and the heritage of Arabian horses within the UAE. Our stables are home to 30 horses while other fascinating animals including gazelles and peacocks also make use of the grazing ground. Explore a range of different riding packages, tailored to meet your individual abilities and needs. Our horses come from varied backgrounds and represent different breeds from around the world including the gallant Arab horse.

Suitable for: Beginners to Experienced riders.

Duration: Dependant on ride (see activities team for more details).

Group size: Dependant on ride (see activities team for more details).

What to bring: long well fitted trousers or jeans (baggy clothing is not permitted).

Where it is: Sir BaniYas Stables and Royal Bay.

What you might see: A variety of flora and fauna All guests will be provided with a safety helmet and boots.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

CULTURE & HISTORY TOUR

On the eastern side of Sir BaniYas Island, we have on-going archaeological excavations. You will have the opportunity to gain an insight into life on the island centuries ago! Archaeologists uncovered the remains of an early Christian monastery site, which was founded in the late 6th century AD. This is the only early Christian site in the UAE, and is of international historical significance! With our fun, informative guided tour you will gain a fascinating understanding into the history of this area, the inhabitants of the region and view the artefacts unearthed so far by the archaeologists.

Suitable for: Ages 6 and above.

Duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Group size: Up to 7 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Camera, hat, flat shoes and sunglasses.

Where it is: Christian monastery site.

What you might see: Archaeological excavations

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

LAND SAILING

The stunning shores of Sir BaniYas Island are perfect for a land sailing adventure!Enjoy a fun day out with the entire family and explore the sea surrounding the island. You can choose to sail independently or make the activity interesting by racing against each other. Our expert guides will be on hand to assist. SUITABLE FOR: 8 years +

DURATION: Approximately 1.5 hours

WHAT TO BRING: Camera, hat, and sunglasses

WHERE IT IS: On the beach

WHAT YOU MIGHT SEE: Marine Life, birds

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

FALCONRY TOUR

Prepare to be transported to the historical site where the late Sheikh Zayed used to hunt falcons overlooking Desert Islands hotel and the northern coast! Our expert guide will teach you about the history of falconry, interesting facts and stories as well as other important information. The falconer will start the demonstration and show you the training technique in a traditional way (Telwah). You will have the opportunity to take photos during the show and capture the Falconer feeding the falcons after each flight. After finishing the training the guests will have a chance to interact with the majesty of the falcons and take pictures carrying the falcons at the view point.

Suitable for: 12 years +.

Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours.

Group size: Up to 7 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Camera, hat, hiking shoes and sunglasses.

Where it is: Historical Site.

What you might see: Falcons, other free roaming-wildlife.

The availability of this activity is subject to weather conditions.

SNORKELING & SCUBA DIVING

If you want to get up close and personal with our incredible marine life then our offshore snorkelling and scuba diving experiences are perfect for you! Explore the offshore reefs of our Island on a guided snorkelling expedition, or if diving is your passion, the stunning waters of Sir BaniYas Bay are the ideal place to come face-to-face with some of Arabia’s beautiful, exotic sea life. The famously iconic Arabic fish, the Hammour, is generally spotted along with a variety of small and colourful fish, sea urchins and many more; so keep your eyes peeled!

Cancellation policy: Less than 48hours is full payment, less than 72hours-48hours is 50% payment because we are holding a space that others may have been able to take. Refund charge: There is a handling fee of Dhs50 for any authorised refund.

Suitable for: Ages 10 and above. You must be a confident swimmer in deep water to participate in snorkelling.

Duration: 1-1.5 hours.

Group size: Up to 10 people may participate in this activity at one time.

What to bring: Swimsuit, towel, sandals, sunscreen, hat and waterproof items. Please note that the Desert Islands Watersports Centre will not be responsible for your personal belongings.

Where it is: The location for beach snorkelling is on the eastern beach of the island. Depending on weather, tides and currents, the guide will decide whether to commence with the activity. Snorkelling by boat will take us to a nearby Gasha Island across the Stewart Channel to a beautiful shipwreck for snorkelling. Seabirds can be encountered on this trip too.