While skyscraper-studded Kuwait City is the country’s epicentre, its surrounding wilderness and historic sites demand exploration, too. From 1,000-year-old archaeological excavations on Failaka Island to thrilling safaris through the desert dunes, our top five excursions from Kuwait City will introduce you to the country’s incredible natural reserves and rich culture.
1 Discover the majesty of Kuwait Red Fort
Had this 120-year-old structure fallen during the Battle of Jahra in 1920, it’s likely that Kuwait would have been seized by Saudi Arabia. But it remained strong. Built originally to defend the town of Al-Jahra’s crops, the sturdy rectangle that is the Red Fort, just half an hour from Kuwait City, makes an intriguing stop. Wander through its 33 chambers and walled courtyards, and marvel at its 2ft-thick walls, constructed from mud and desert shrubs.
2 Take a boat trip to Failaka Island
Failaka Island is a small speck in the Gulf that’s home to more camels than people. But it’s the island’s history that really places it on the map. Archaeologists are continuously excavating Failaka’s sandy soils and discovering new relics. A pirate’s lair, ancient Greek temples and treasures left over from Mesopotamian merchants have all been unearthed; testimony to the island’s 4,000-year-old past. Charter a boat from the mainland to explore Kuwait’s deepest pocket of antiquity.
3 Head out on a desert safari
A visit to the unbridled expanse of desert surrounding Kuwait City is a must when in this part of the world. From an enchanting camel trek at sunrise to an adrenalin-pumping whizz through the dunes on a quad bike with swirls of sand dancing in your wake, there’s a desert safari to suit all tastes.
4 Experience the wonder of nature at Sabah Al-Ahmad Natural Reserve
Sabah Al-Ahmad Natural Reserve is now a peaceful place to go hiking and wildlife-watching. Trade shopping malls and skyscrapers for this sprawling nature reserve around Kuwait Bay, just north of the city. It gleams with shimmering reservoirs and swathes of greenery roamed by gazelles. Birdwatchers will delight at the rare species found here, including the purple sunbird and the Indian pond heron.
5 Explore oceanic landscapes on a scuba dive
The best way to get up close with Kuwait’s kaleidoscopic aquatic life? Taking the plunge on a guided scuba diving adventure. A world of coral reefs swarmed by colour-popping shoals of tropical fish, turtles and lionfish awaits within the warm, crystalline Gulf, with sharks and stingrays occasionally making an appearance too. Several tour operators include stop-offs at the golden shores of Kubbar and Qaruh Islands. These tiny stretches of sand surrounded by turquoise waters are the definitive desert islands – perfect for catching your breath between dives. Stay until nightfall and watch the sun dip beneath the horizon in front of a camp fire.
Looking to embark on an unforgettable excursion from Kuwait City? The concierge at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Resort & Spa will help you arrange your perfect trip.