The Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Saudi Arabia: From Falcons to Camels

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, with its vast deserts, rugged mountains, and pristine coastlines, offers a diverse range of habitats for a variety of wildlife species. This country, often associated with its rich cultural heritage and modern cities, also provides unique and breathtaking opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts. From the majestic falcons that soar through the skies to the resilient camels that traverse the expansive deserts, Saudi Arabia is a hidden gem for those seeking to connect with nature. Here, we explore the best wildlife viewing spots in the kingdom, where you can witness the beauty and diversity of its fauna.

1. The Empty Quarter (Rub’ al Khali)

The Rub’ al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter, is the largest continuous sand desert in the world. Spanning a significant part of the Arabian Peninsula, this vast and desolate landscape is home to some of the most iconic wildlife species of the region.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Arabian Oryx: Once extinct in the wild, the Arabian oryx has been successfully reintroduced to the Empty Quarter. These striking antelopes, with their long, straight horns, are a symbol of resilience and conservation success.
  • Sand Gazelle: Adapted to the harsh desert conditions, sand gazelles are often spotted gracefully moving across the dunes.
  • Camels: Known as the “ships of the desert,” camels are an integral part of Saudi Arabian culture and are commonly seen throughout the Empty Quarter.


Best Viewing Tips

  • Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour with experienced local guides increases the chances of spotting wildlife and ensures a safe and informative experience.
  • Early Morning or Late Afternoon: Wildlife is most active during the cooler parts of the day, making early morning or late afternoon the best times for viewing.

2. Farasan Islands

Located in the Red Sea, the Farasan Islands are a group of coral islands known for their rich biodiversity and stunning marine life. This archipelago offers a unique blend of terrestrial and marine wildlife experiences.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Gazelles: The Farasan Islands are home to a unique subspecies of the Arabian gazelle, which can often be seen roaming the islands.
  • Dugongs: These gentle marine mammals, also known as sea cows, can be spotted in the shallow waters around the islands.
  • Birds: The islands are a haven for birdwatchers, with species such as ospreys, sooty falcons, and pink-backed pelicans commonly sighted.

Best Viewing Tips

  • Snorkeling and Diving: To fully appreciate the marine life, snorkeling and diving excursions are highly recommended.
  • Birdwatching Tours: Organized birdwatching tours provide expert guidance and increase the likelihood of seeing rare and migratory bird species.

3. Asir National Park

Asir National Park, located in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia, is characterized by its mountainous terrain, lush valleys, and cooler climate. This region’s unique environment supports a diverse range of wildlife.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Arabian Leopard: Though elusive and critically endangered, the Arabian leopard is one of the most sought-after species in the park.
  • Hamadryas Baboon: These social primates are commonly seen in the park, often found in large troops.
  • Birds: Asir National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with species such as the Arabian partridge, Yemen thrush, and African paradise flycatcher.

Best Viewing Tips

  • Hiking Trails: Exploring the park’s numerous hiking trails offers opportunities to encounter wildlife in their natural habitats.
  • Observation Points: The park has several designated observation points that provide panoramic views and excellent birdwatching opportunities.

4. Harrat Al Harrah

Harrat Al Harrah, a vast volcanic field in northern Saudi Arabia, is a remote and rugged landscape that supports a surprising array of wildlife.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Arabian Wolf: This resilient predator is one of the top carnivores in the region.
  • Ruppell’s Fox: Adapted to the harsh conditions, this small and agile fox is a common sight in Harrat Al Harrah.
  • Birds of Prey: The area is known for its diverse raptor population, including eagles, buzzards, and falcons.

Best Viewing Tips

  • Camping: For a truly immersive experience, camping in Harrat Al Harrah allows for extended wildlife observation, particularly at dawn and dusk.
  • Binoculars and Spotting Scopes: Bringing binoculars or a spotting scope enhances the chances of spotting distant wildlife.

5. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC)

The King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, located near Riyadh, is a dedicated conservation facility focused on the breeding and reintroduction of endangered species.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Falcons: The center is renowned for its falcon breeding program, with several species of these magnificent birds of prey on display.
  • Arabian Oryx: Visitors can learn about the successful conservation efforts that have brought the Arabian oryx back from the brink of extinction.
  • Houbara Bustard: This elusive bird, also the subject of conservation efforts, can be observed at the center.

Best Viewing Tips

  • Educational Tours: Participating in educational tours offered by the center provides valuable insights into the conservation work being done and the species being protected.
  • Photography Opportunities: The center offers excellent opportunities for wildlife photography, with several species readily accessible for observation.

Experiencing the Wildlife

Exploring Saudi Arabia’s diverse wildlife habitats is not just about seeing the animals; it’s about experiencing the country’s natural beauty and understanding the delicate balance of its ecosystems. From the vast emptiness of the Rub’ al Khali to the vibrant marine life of the Farasan Islands, each location offers a unique perspective on the kingdom’s rich biodiversity.


Preservation and Respect

While Saudi Arabia’s wildlife viewing opportunities are plentiful, it is crucial to approach these experiences with respect and responsibility. Many of the species encountered are endangered or vulnerable, and their habitats are delicate. Visitors should always follow guidelines provided by tour operators and conservationists to minimize their impact on the environment.


Saudi Arabia’s diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity make it a dream destination for wildlife enthusiasts. From the soaring falcons to the resilient camels, the kingdom offers countless opportunities to connect with nature and witness some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. By exploring these wildlife hotspots, visitors not only gain a deeper appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s natural heritage but also contribute to the conservation efforts that ensure these magnificent creatures continue to thrive for generations to come. Whether you are a seasoned wildlife enthusiast or a curious traveler, Saudi Arabia’s wildlife viewing spots promise an unforgettable experience.

Also read: Saudi Arabia’s Historic Forts and Castles: A Walk Through History