Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Falconry is an important part of the UAE's history and remains a popular pastime today. In traditional Bedouin life, falcons were trapped, trained and used to hunt hares and other protein to supplement the limited diet provided by the desert. Despite hunting being strictly controlled in Abu Dhabi City, falconry is a sport and chance for social interactions. In addition, a highly skilled falconer and well-trained falcon is seen as a status symbol for the local Emirati. In fact, falcons are allowed in the main cabin of the local airlines, so you may find yourself next door to a mysterious hooded passenger!
Located in Abu Dhabi City, the Falcon Hospital provides an interesting and culturally different excursion. At 170 AED, the experience isn't cheap, but where else can you visit a hospital just for falcons? We recommend booking through Getyourguide, who will book a spot on your chosen day and email a voucher to you.
The tour of the falcon hospital starts with an interesting talk about the history of falconry in the UAE. This takes place in a small museum, where you can read about the Emirates whilst waiting for the tour to begin. Our guide was extremely knowledgable, friendly and exuded humour and warmth. We learned a great deal about the three species of mountain-dwelling falcons (Peregrine, Gyr and Saker) which are native to East and Central Europe and Central Asia and migrate to Arabia each year. Then, the highlight of the tour begins with entry permitted to the examination room. Here, you watch a minor operation on a bird, when it receives a beak and claw trim and shape. It is fascinating to be so close to the animal and watch the vet at work.
In the examination room, a number of falcons sit on perches - great for photos. There is also the opportunity to hold a variety of birds and one person in each group is allowed to feed one of the falcons. Staff are around to answer any questions you may have and you are allowed to touch some of the birds.
After everyone has had enough time in the examination room, the tour proceeds to the aviary, where the birds are free to fly. Lastly, a small cultural museum and provision of soft drinks completes the tour.