Sunrise in Kalba

A new place-name entered our consciousness last week: Kalba. It is said to be one of the most beautiful places in the UAE, so naturally Michael and I were curious to explore the validity of this claim. Kalba lies in one of the little chunks of the emirate of Sharjah that are scattered around the UAE. Not only does it nestle snuggly between the Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, but it also borders the northern tip of Oman.

Unlike the sunrises in Ras-al-Khaimah on the west coast where the sun peers over the mountain tops every morning, here on the east coast the sun rises spectacularly over the sea. In order for us to experience this beauty, we had to get up at 4am. We arrived in Kalba while it was still blanketed in darkness. Michael deflated the tyres a bit, and by doing so allowed us to get a front-row seat on the beach, right on the water’s edge. Fortified with sandwiches and coffee, all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the slow drift of time turning the night, through an amazing array of colours, into a sunny Saturday morning.

With the sun slowly warming the early morning air, we could indulge in what has become one of my favourite activities: hunting for sea shells. Not only did I discover a variety of beautiful new ones, but also that the water is much warmer than the air, so while a thick jacket was essential, my feet were snug in the gentle rhythm of the waves. What a delightfully different way to start a day!

Nature’s basket of treasures overflows in the bounty to be found in Kalba. The mangrove forests  shelter a variety of bird life and it is said to be a birder’s paradise. An impressive list of birds call this home, including the White-collared or Mangrove Kingfisher that breeds here. The endangered sub-species T. c. kalbaensis with a population of about 55 pairs are almost exclusively found in Khor Kalba. On this occasion we didn’t spot any, as our focus was elsewhere, but it certainly gives us an excuse for another visit.

The creek is teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes, and just as we congratulated ourselves for stumbling upon this mesmerizing outdoor aquarium, Michael spotted a turtle feeding at the bottom. It came up for a quick gulp of air, displaying its beautifully coloured patterns, but our reactions were, alas, far too slow to get a much coveted photograph. We decided to employ patience: camera at the ready. Just as we thought we ran out of luck and was about to give up, it gave us a special treat by leisurely showing off its patterns and colours that were intensified by the reflecting rays of the sun.

All along the creek and harbour area fishermen busied themselves by repairing their nets. We found it interesting that Toyota Land Cruisers are seemingly the most popular choice of transport for these men-of-the-sea. Evidence of this can be found everywhere in various forms: the new, the drivable, the old-and-sick and the abandoned. . . It is the abandoned Cruisers that offer excellent subject matter for quirky pictures, and yet another excuse that can be cited for a re-visit.

After a peaceful morning on the beaches of Kalba, we headed home, stopping in Masafi at Mist & Blue for some delicious take-away Indian food, and a much needed afternoon nap.

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