Outdoor activities and adventures, especially in less crowded locations such as Al Thakira, have become increasingly popular among Qatar residents who want to spend their weekends in a safe environment amid the current Covid-19 situation.
From camping and kayaking to road trips and bicycle rides, it is learnt that many people find it practical to avoid indoor activities as much as possible as a precautionary measure against the pandemic.
The Al Thakira mangroves features a vast green scenery. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Visitors find kayaking to be a great way to explore the Al Thakira mangroves. -screenshot from Visit Qatar's Instagram page
A number of residents spend their weekend at Al Thakira. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Will Chamley at Al Thakira
“I visited Al Thakira for the first time last November for a kayaking expedition. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it very well organised by my tour company. We were able to kayak individually or in pairs and it was suitable for most levels of fitness,” Will Chamley, a British primary school teacher who has been working in Qatar for seven years, told Gulf Times.
“It was very refreshing to be among greenery and the air feels much cleaner than in the city. It (Al Thakira) was, by far, the most naturally beautiful spot I've visited in Qatar. A highlight was spotting local wildlife, although I'd love to go back again to see a rare sighting of a flamingo in its natural habitat,” he said.
Near the mangroves, Chamley added, is Purple Island, which he recommends for a great afternoon trip since it provides a welcome break from the built up areas.
Located north of the seaside city of Al Khor, the Al Thakira mangroves has become a popular destination due to its vast green scenery and kayaking serves as an enjoyable way for visitors to explore its natural beauty.
“The walk-way on to the island is well maintained and very photogenic. The island itself has a small stretch of coast where families were having picnics, and there was some rock formations which were great to climb and take photos from,” Chamley said.
For Qatar Chain Reaction’s Saturday Social Ride cyclist Adiel Mohamed, cycling from Doha to Al Thakira between 3 and 3.5 hours (depending on their pace) is already a treat.
“We cycled there quite often in preparation for the Qatar Quest ride. We used the Bay Area as our half way stop to fuel up before continuing our training. We tend to spend a lot of time in the city and when riding out to Al Thakira it’s a nice change of scenery which reminds me of riding along the coast back home in South Africa,” he said.
Besides kayaking, he said visitors can ride with a mountain bike or hike along the beach. He finds a walk on the beach, picnic, or just watching the sun set on Purple Island less strenuous activity.
According to Visit Qatar, the official social media tourism account of the Qatar National Tourism Council, bird watching is also a popular activity at Al Thakira, which serves as a stop for several migratory birds every year between May and October.