Places Outside Doha: Thakira
Salt Marsh and Estuary
Alternative spelling: Dhakira
Thakira is a small village located a few kilometres to the North of Al Khor. Like many of Qatar's towns it has tripled in size over the last few years, and it is becoming more difficult to navigate your way through the maze of half-built houses to get to the shore side. If you are a nature lover, though, it is well worth doing so, as the vista is completely different from much of the rest of Qatar.
Thakira not only rests on the edge of an estuary, it is also home to mangrove swamps. While, because of the extremely high saline content of the sea in this area, the mangroves are not as large as in other countries, they are probably the most established in Qatar.
If you are out for a quite time you may just wish to take a couple of photos, have a stroll around the jetty, chat to some local fishermen and enjoy the unusual peace. However if you are more adventurous you might fancy a bit of swamp snorkeling.
The snorkeling is not quit as dramatic as over a reef, and is often in very shallow water. Once you get into the swamps you often have to pull yourself along by the roots of the mangroves. (Expect to collect a few scratches along the way!) The visibility of the water is poor, and the effect can be quite scary as the mangroves loom above - you should, however, be able to see plenty of the small fish that inhabit the swamps.
At low tide you might want to get out into the swamps to explore the wildlife here. There's plenty to see here, from kingfishers and marsh harriers to exotic sea slugs - including a new species of sea slug discovered on a Qatar Natural History Group expedition.
If you have a four wheel drive you could also choose to cross the swamps at low tide, park at the wadi and enjoy the beach opposite Al Thakira. If you do so, take care: one trip ended in disaster when the cars involved got stuck in the face of an advancing tide, and ended up having to be rescued. The pictures of the abandoned cars made the front page of the next day's Gulf Times!
After enjoying the mangrove swamps, try stopping at Al Khor on the way back to Doha to enjoy the beach - and some great Turkish food along Main Street.