Shore excursion to the north of Qatar

Shore excursion to the north of Qatar

Author Anne Plau

We have two days to explore the Emirate of Qatar. After we were traveling in the capital Doha yesterday, we booked a private tour for the morning via the GetYourGuide platform. It goes to the north of Qatar, to the port of Al Khor, to the mangroves at Thakira and to the world heritage sites of Al-Zubarah. We have the afternoon left for further discoveries in Doha. You can find details about the attractions on our tour in our article Doha / Qatar attractions.

Private tour with driver and guide

We set off in a small off-road vehicle at 9:00 sharp. The driver Musy, the tour guide Aram and the two of us. Al-Khor is located a good 50 kilometers north of Doha. We cruise around Doha Bay and then pass Lusail. During the journey we see some of the striking stadium buildings in which the games of the 2022 World Cup were played. For example, Stadium 974 was built from 974 recycled shipping containers.

Doha - Stadium 974

Doha - Stadium 974

Doha - Stadium 974

The port of Al-Khor 

Al-Khor used to be a fishing port and pearl diving station. Now the port is only used for fishing and, to a lesser extent, for tourism. Al-Khor is a picturesque harbor where many old dhows bob and visitors can see traditional forms of fishing. We won't stay long. The mangrove forests lie opposite Al-Khor on the other side of the bay that cuts deep into the land.

Fishing boats in Al-Khor harbor

Mangroves and Purple Island 

After 20 minutes of driving, we leave the car in the protected mangrove area. From there it goes over wooden footbridges to the island of Bin Ghannam, also called Purple Island. The footbridges lead over the mangrove forests. We see fish and crabs that can grow quite undisturbed in the shallow water and between the roots of the mangroves.

Mangroves on Bin Ghannam Island

Mangrove landscape on Bin Ghannam Island

Al Zubarah Fort 

Next we cross the peninsula to the northwest. It is about 70 kilometers to Al-Zubarah. The route leads almost exclusively through rocky and scree desert, every now and then we see a small town, a mosque or a date farm

Al-Zubarah Fortress was built in the early 20th century to protect the coast. It is located outside the archaeological site of Al-Zubarah and, like it, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress was extensively restored and now serves as a museum. Visitors see artifacts from the region and learn about the history. The exhibition is very informative, and the contributions about water production in this dry region are particularly interesting. The walls and towers are also accessible. Admission is free (December 2023).

Fort Al Zubarah

Fort Al Zubarah 

View from Al-Zubarah Fort

We visit the Al-Zubarah excavations

Our tour plan now includes a trip to Jumail. This is an abandoned place north of Al-Zubarah. Our tour guide, however, suggests that we visit the nearby archaeological excavation site. This is not possible every day. As part of a guided tour, visitors are taken to the cordoned-off area by shuttle bus and accompanied by a tour guide. We gladly accept this offer. A military post lets our bus pass and we drive about 1 ½ kilometers to a kind of base camp. From there, wooden walkways on metal supports lead through the extensive complex.

Excavations of Al-Zubarah

The walled coastal city of Al Zubarah on the Persian Gulf was a prominent pearling and trading center in the Arabian region for a period of about fifty years in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The place was destroyed around 1810, finally abandoned in the 20th century and buried under blown sand. Today the archaeological site covers an area of ​​around 60 hectares with remains of houses, mosques and a market. Al Zubarah has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. So far only a small part has been excavated.

Al-Zubarah excavation site

Al-Zubarah excavation site

The tour of the excavations takes about an hour. The bus takes you back to Al Zubarah Fortress. An interesting tour that should not be missed if the opportunity arises.

Conclusion of our tour to the north 

Our way back to Doha leads across the Qatar peninsula again, then south. Four and a half hours after the start of the tour we are back at the port.

Desert near Al-Zubarah

We enjoyed the excursion: a comfortable car, a careful driver and a knowledgeable tour guide. The price-performance ratio was okay. We saw beautiful landscapes. The impressions are completely different than in the capital Doha, but no less interesting. And thanks to our companions, we learned a lot about the country of Qatar and the people who live there.

February 2024