One of the most hotly anticipated new kid-friendly attractions, Dubai Safari, has finally opened its doors for a 'soft launch' as of Tuesday 12 December.

Situated opposite Dragon Mart 2 in Al Warqaa 5,  entry to the park during the trial period is free of charge, but not all of the attractions are finished, and opening hours are said to be  9am to 5pm, but are not set in stone; for example, there was such a crowd at the park on Wednesday 13 December that it had to close at 2pm.

When the park opens properly, which is expected to be in about two weeks' time, the opening hours will be 9am until 9pm, including public holidays, with the drive-through safari operating until 6pm.

The entry fees will be Dh20 for children and Dh50 for adults for access to Dubai Safari Park, which includes access to Arabian village, African village and Asian village, but not the Safari village (where the drive-through safari happens).

Combo tickets will be Dh30 for children and Dh85 for adults for access to all of the above parks as well as the Safari Village experience.

VIP parking will be charged separately at Dh50.

Spread over 119 hectares, Dubai Safari is home to the most diverse array of animals in the UAE with over 2,500 animals representing more than 250 species from around the world. Guests have access to four villages: African, Arabian, Asian and an Open Safari village (although the Asian Village is not yet open).

Siberian tiger at Dubai Safari Park, Photo:Virendra Saklani/Gulf-News

It's also very family-friendly, with a strong focus on 'edutainment'; combining the opportunity for children to observe and interact with amazing animals, while educating them about the importance of wildlife conservation through best practices and research and development.

There is a kids' farm and petting zoo

 

The big attraction is of course the drive-through safari; entry to the park gives you access to this attraction, wherein you are driven on a mini bus through enclosures housing freely roaming tigers, lions, and even through alligator-infested lakes and mud pools filled with hippos!

Watch out for tigers on the drive-through safari!

The Open Safari Village and Arabian village are both experienced by Mercedes mini-bus,  the African and Asian Village enclosures are experienced on foot, where you can expect to see everything from monkeys to flamingos and lemurs.

Other animals that you can expect to see include bears, lions, Siberian tigers,  hippos, buffalo, hyena,  gorillas and many more. Elephants and cheetahs are expected to arrive soon.

For little ones, there's also a kids' farm and petting zoo, where children can get up close and personal with fun, furry, child-friendly animals.

Lion cubs in Dubai Safari, born to two lions from Timbavati in South Africa

Unlike a zoo environment, the Dubai Safari Park is chance for visitors to observe wildlife roaming in their natural habitats, discover fascinating facts about a wide diversity of species native to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, while developing a deeper understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation and protection efforts.

Moon Bear at Dubai safari. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“Dubai Safari is more than just a wildlife park," says Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality for Communications and Community Sector. "Our vision for this project is to offer a highly engaging edutainment experience that fosters education on animal welfare, inspires a sense of learning about wildlife diversity and raises awareness on what makes wildlife protection a top priority.

"The full range of activities at Dubai Safari have been designed keeping in mind these overarching goals, to ensure that every guest who walks through our doors, leaves the destination with a deeper appreciation for wildlife and wildlife conservation."

Read more: '7 ways to get your kids closer to nature in the UAE'

Check out these other images for your first look at this fab new destination:

White lions from South africa. Photo: Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News

 

Read more: 'What you need to know about Forest Schooling in the UAE'