|A 7-day voyage of discovery
Page 5 of 7
WEDNESDAY: A day for the birds and animals on the beautiful beaches of Hawar.
The day starts with breakfast at the Conservatory Cafe before a day with a complete difference. We drive to the east coast of the island, to a jetty where a small but fast passenger boat takes us to the Hawar group of islands, some 30 km away from the mainland.
The previous day, we had had a chance meeting in Manama with an Australian expatriate, Howard King, who is a devout conservationist, especially with regard to Hawar Islands. For me, the bird life was the main purpose of going out to the islands and Howard was delighted to escort us there for the best views of the wild birds for which the islands are famous.
On our arrival, Howard took us on a smaller boat, necessary to negotiate the waters that can be very shallow around the main island. We were treated to the wonderfully impressive sight of hundreds of black cormorants, flying in tight formation close to us. We sat still in the boat, watching the birds flying back to their island roosts after a day's fishing at sea.
Although the light was unfortunately cloudy for our visit, so making photography difficult, it was an astonishing sight especially when followed by our landing on the part of the island a little later to walk close to the breeding and roost area. They were gathered literally in their thousands, a sea of black on a large sandy expanse. I feel really fortunate to witness this sight as the shallow waters make this part of the island not generally accessible to tourists.
On Hawar there is one main hotel with excellent facilities, and our lunch is a delicious buffet. We have time in the afternoon to see the animals on the island, including the Arabian Oryx, native to this part of the world. The animals seem well looked after and are very photogenic. They are allowed to roam freely and so look quite natural in their semi-desert location.
This location is perhaps more advantageous for photography than Al Areen Wildlife Park, which I describe later, but obviously you need time to spare during your trip. Certainly it's a day with a difference and there is some reluctance to leave this desert island style location for the hustle and bustle of Bahrain again!