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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

United Arab Emirates

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.  The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: United States citizens need a passport valid for at least six months from the date they are scheduled to depart the country. Visas are issued on arrival or when booking the air ticket. Note: If you have Israeli stamps in your passport you may be refused entry.  As the political situation in the Middle East changes it would be wise to contact your nearest United Arab Emirates Embassy to check if any Israeli stamp in your passport would prevent you from entering UAE. If that is the case you may need to apply for a new, spare passport.  

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest UAE embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you regarding your participation in the tour.
It is always a good idea to take photocopies of your passport and air ticket with you when traveling abroad. They can prove invaluable in helping you get replacements if your original documents are lost or stolen. You should pack the photocopies separately from the originals. Unpacking the minibus at the roadside to get at one passport can be very time-consuming!

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/united-arab-emirates.html and the The CIA World Factbook background notes for UAE are at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ae.html

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE:  Usually we drive to various locations and make fairly short and slow walks from the vehicle.  There are several longer strolls (two hours or so).  In order to see much of this country there are a few longer drives (on a couple of days much of the day is spent travelling) but the scenery is always changing and there will be birding stops as and when we see anything of interest.  Breakfasts are usually between 06.00 and 07.00. We will have a few early starts where we return to our hotel for a late breakfast.

On most days, lunch will be a picnic at a birding site.  We always try to return to the hotel in time for ‘an hour to shower’ before dinner at around 19.30 or 20.00. 

HEALTH:  There are no major health risks in UAE.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A.

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/united-arab-emirates.

Biting insects - including mosquitos are generally not a problem in the UAE and an insect repellent should provide adequate protection.  Mild intestinal disorders are difficult to avoid completely and we suggest that you bring diarrhoea medication such as Imodium. 

Water in the UAE is generally safe in the larger towns but we would recommend that you do not drink tap water.  We also suggest you use bottled mineral water for teeth cleaning. 

It may be difficult to obtain any special medication during the tour, so bring all you are likely to need.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

CLIMATE:  January is Dubai’s coldest month, but is actually more in keeping with a British summer than the winter, with temperatures averaging out at about 70° F (20°C). The cold temperatures, at least by Dubai standards, mean that humidity is low. Rain is possible during the tour.

We may experience some windy days especially in the mountains and desert which can make an otherwise warm day seem cold.

ACCOMMODATION: Our hotels are both comfortable and modern - both of which have ensuite facilities.

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: Our hotels have reasonably good Wi-Fi connections. Mobile phone access is very good in and around the cities but can be intermittent when in the field.

Mobile phones can be useful while on tour but keep in mind that many countries operate on a different cellular technology. Your phone may be incompatible with the local system, so please check with your local carrier. Fortunately, with the advent of smartphones, it is easy to download applications such as Skype or Google Voice, which can make calling home free or very inexpensive. Another option is to replace the data (“SIM”) card in your phone in-country. The SIM cards, including data can be very cheap. If you wish to use this option, you will need to check that your smart phone has a SIM card slot.

FOOD:  Most meals in hotels in the UAE will be very cosmopolitan with a variety of dishes from Asia and Europe on offer. Some of the food will be spicy.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to miss. While we will try to do all we can to accommodate the requirements of all participants, please note that we cannot guarantee all causes of food allergies can be avoided at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs can, regretfully, not be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to ensure the best possible birding experience and although the leaders will do all they can to make sure the group eats at a reasonable time, sometimes early or late lunches and/or evening meals cannot be avoided.  Any participants who need to eat at specific times may need to bring supplemental food with them.

DRINKS: Bottled water, a soft drink or a beer (or wine if appropriate) are provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. In addition, we keep a supply of bottled water on the tour vehicles. Bottled or filtered water may also be provided in some rooms where we stay.
WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip.

Food Allergies / Requirements:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: The transport for the tour will be by minibus or small coach.  We will rotate the seating each day.

Created: 19 September 2016