Nature is a wondrous thing, and humans have been fascinated by it for thousands of years. As more time passed, modernizing our cities and living in concrete jungles, it was natural for people to decide to walk in nature for recreational and exercise purposes; thus, hiking was born.
In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been opening up to tourists with many of its natural wonders ready for more people to see. One of which is their incredible hiking trails that will have people in awe, thanks to their beauty and surrounding nature.
So if you’re planning on going to the kingdom or looking for a new incredible trail to trek in the future, we have the top hiking trails you need to check out in Saudi Arabia.
Situated southwest of the kingdom, Jabal Sawda has the highest summit in the country, reaching an elevation of over 3,000m, making it a bit tough for new hikers but a worthy challenge for seasoned ones.
The trail and its location are enjoyed by locals and foreigners alike since it has delightful weather all year round, along with the impressive history surrounding the area.
“One of the best hiking places in Saudi Arabia is Jabal Sawda, the highest peak in the country, in Abha by far,” said Ahmad Bagader, Qimmam Adventures Club Co-Founder.
With an overall hiking distance of 15.4 km, the trail rises and falls due to its terrain being part of the Asir mountain range. On the trail, hikers can see the change in the landscape and flora according to their elevation; the higher they go, the greener and lush their surroundings will be, and vice versa.
On their way, hikers will also get to see some landmarks such as old Ottoman-era bridges and a stone-built tower that used to be lit for special occasions in the past; so that people in the surrounding area could see it.
Edge Of The World (Jabal Fihrayn)
In the heart of Saudi Arabia, near its capital, Riyadh, lies Jabal Fihrayn, or as many hikers like to call it, the “Edge of the World;” one of the places that is a must-add to not just your global hiking list, but your bucket list too.
A trail going as far up as 300 m high, it’s usually the cliff, created as a result of the movement of tectonic plates, that attracts tourists and trekkers alike, thanks to its incredible picturesque view, which has people returning to observe the sun rise and set across the horizon.
The weather there can get terribly hot during the summer due to its position in the middle of the desert, so we recommend avoiding that season; but other than that, it’s an easy climb, making it perfect for new and seasoned hikers.
From the top of the cliff, you can enjoy a view of dunes, desert, and smaller mountains with the occasional sighting of a few camels making their way to their next destination, overall creating unique sights; you won’t find anywhere else.
Another great trail for seasoned and new hikers is around the Al-Wahba Crater near Al-Taif city. Visitors take a two-hour drive from the city to the crater, and then trekkers can take on the three-and-a-half-hour hike around it, enjoying its natural beauty. However, it’s recommended that you visit it during the fall and winter months due to the weather’s scorching heat in the summer.
With a diameter of 6.9 km, the Al-Wahba Crater’s creation was due to a phreatomagmatic eruption, which happens when molten lava interacts with subterranean water leading to an explosion of steam breaking the earth’s crust.
It’s definitely a unique trek, thanks to its fascinating lunar-like landscape and the massive circular lake in the middle grabbing everyone’s gaze, making people feel as if they’re in another world as they circulate the crater’s rim.
When observed from the sky, the white sodium phosphate crystals on the lake create a glittering effect that wows onlookers; hikers can also see a dried lava field on the northern edge of the crater, adding to the already special qualities of the area.
There’s even a legend surrounding the crater; according to the story, long ago, two mountains named Tamia and Cotton were in the area. One night during a storm, a flash of lightning illuminated Cotton, Tamia got fascinated by his beauty, vowing to get closer to him; but as she uprooted herself, another mountain named Shelman got jealous and shot her with an arrow. Dying, Tamia crashed to the ground, creating the crater in the process.
Located in the northwestern province of Tabuk, Wadi Al-Disah is a large lush-green valley strip surrounded by mountainous terrain. It’s unique compared to other mentioned trails as it doesn’t house many elevations and provides rather a smoother and grounded experience.
After taking a two-and-a-half drive to the valley from Tabuk, trekkers can take the hike on foot or use cars to specific points of interest along the trail. Hikers and locals recommend that you visit the trail between fall and spring for the best weather conditions.
Trekkers will start off with some red-stone mountains at the trail‘s entrance before reaching the water spring that has lush green bushes and palm trees contrasting the harsh stone surroundings; it’s there where people love to either camp or have a picnic as they prepare for the road ahead.
A short distance later, hikers will find themselves walking on a dried riverbed with towering rock formations on which there are ancient writings and inscriptions that predate the Arabic language.
There are a couple of locations people can visit along the trail, including a cave where hikers can enter to rest, get out of the sun, and get a bite to eat before reaching the endpoint of the valley, and if they’re up for it, a short climb reaching a cliff overlooking the whole valley.
Al-Ula Hidden Trek
One of the most well-known areas for hiking in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ula is situated in the western part of the country with one of its most famous landmarks being the “Elephant Rock,” which, from the name, you can easily guess that it looks like a giant stone elephant.
However, the Hidden Trek involves another 4 km trail zigzagging within the area’s canyons; many consider it to be a moderate hike due in large part to it being a sandy and flat trail, which figuratively transports you back in time to a simpler era.
Serenity is the keyword when describing this hike as trekkers make their way through the parallel canyons in the quiet and secluded Arabian desert.
Sandy trails, rock formations, and numerous petroglyphs dating back to the Lihyanite and Dadanite periods are going to be the main attractions along the way, not to mention the Lion Tombs of Dadan, which will quickly have newcomers enchanted with the place.
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