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JustHere | August 23, 2017

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Colour me purple

Colour me purple

The Assignment: To accompany a group that does nature trips around Qatar. The Question: If you have a blast, is it still work?

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Entalek is an environmental group that encourages schools and families to take part in kayaking and experience the unique ecology offered by these mangrove sites. They promote low-impact tourism by using kayaks in tours instead of motorised boats.

Cost:
QR200 per adult
QR150 per child (12 years and below)
Children below six go free.
entalek.org@gmail.com

Time:
It takes an hour by road to reach the island.

What to wear:
It is advisable to dress in light, comfortable clothes. Bring extra clothing as you will definitely get wet.  Leave your electronic devices and valuables in your car, but if you have a water-proof camera, bring it and snap away. Entalek provides refreshments during the trip but you can also bring your own water/juice, just don’t leave waste behind.  And finally, don’t forget to put sunscreen on as you’ll be exposed to the sun for the whole trip.

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Entalek – meaning to go in classic Arabic – was conducting a kayaking trip around Purple Island.  Kayaking, a mangrove island, photography – this was and assignment I could’nt pass, even if it meant waking up early on a Friday.

Hopping into an SUV, kayaks in tow, Boyd and I headed towards Al Khor. Boyd has been kayaking for the past 10 years and was my guide for the day. An hour later we were at the port, where a small group of people were waiting all eager kayakers though most of them were first-timers.

After familiarising ourselves with the basics of kayaking – the proper paddling and steering of the kayak, minimising stress and avoiding injury, and the do’s and don’ts of the sport – we took off on our kayaks.

Looming over the horizon were patches of green mangroves – a sight to behold.  As we neared the forest, the setting was almost magical. The kayaking was like a work-out for participants, many of them struggling with the steering and paddling. “We are going against the current,” cautioned Boyd, but he assured us that the ride would get easier as we moved along. I was lucky to share a kayak with Boyd, which meant I was in safe custody. I could take in the beauty and capture it on my camera.

We reached a spot where the sand appeared fine against the clear water. The tide was coming down and we could see the water from the main stream rushing out. That was our finish line. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in Qatar. We spotted flamingoes from a distance. It was picture-perfect!

But it was time to head back to the port. The current brought us back without much effort in paddling. Despite aching arms and backs, every face glowed with a smile as we watched the fishes swim around our kayak. During warmer weather, fishes would sometimes jump aboard the kayaks, said Boyd.

Mangrove Magic:

Mangroves are specially designed to survive in saline water.

There are less than 15 million hectares of mangroves globally and are continually decreasing in the past years due to deforestation and urban developments.

The yellow leaves in a mangrove tree are sacrificial leaves, oxygen is produced from certain leaves to sustain oxygen for the whole tree.

Spikes that protrude from surrounding area of the tree are part of its roots.  They also help filter in oxygen from the water.

As plants are limited in Qatar, the mangroves of Purple Island are vital to the country for they help regulate the carbon emissions from cars.

Mangroves cover about 500 hectares of land in Qatar, mostly found on the north east of the country.

The area is protected by the Qatar government and is home to different kinds of fishes and migratory birds.

How to get there:

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