Experience the Thrills and Spills of Desert Hiking in the Heart of Saudi Arabia

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From the harsh desert landscapes immortalized in Lawrence of Arabia, it is difficult to imagine a Saudi desert that is conducive for human survival, let alone a hiking expedition. But the sandstones wonders of Medain Saleh, the mountain ranges of Abha, the protected regions of Wadi Rum and the Khaybar Volcanoes form some of the best hiking, trekking and climbing hotspots in the Emirati with challenging and spectacular landscapes on offer for those willing to put their soles into action. This diverse landscape is abound with ancient artefacts, rock formations and other natural wonders, providing an experience like no other.

Most hiking expeditions in the Saudi desert commence from Wadi Rum Village, where hikers can take a scenic walk to Lawrence Spring before exploring the exquisite red sand dunes of the region. The Nabataea inscriptions found in the Jebel A Feshiyeh are also a highlight along this track, which crosses the valley over to Wadak Rock Bridge. Hikers have the option of camping out in true Bedouin style at Abu Aissaran and head for the Burdah rock bridge after breakfast. The trail from this point onwards takes trekkers to the Um Fruth rock bridge and finally to the Um Sabbatah area, which boasts some of the best views of the sunset in the valley.

Other stopovers along the beaten trail include a walk in Nogra valley and Wadi Saabet, while the trek to the ancient spring of Jebel Qatar is also a worth the wait. The Khazali Canyon and its Talmudic and Nabataea writings is another must see historical site along the trail.

Those who wish to trek across molten areas of inactive volcano crates can head down to the black and white volcanoes of Khaybar with the famed Harrat Khaybar Lava Field. Situated 190km from Jeddah, this easy to navigate volcanoes are a sight for sore eyes. The white volcano known as Jebel Bayda is a special treat with its doughnut shape while the Jebel Abyad is a relatively steeper volcano with a monumental crater. The Qidr and Jebel Bayda black volcanoes are also breathtaking sights to behold against the orange desert landscapes, while flora and fauna enthusiasts can discover animal tracks and the barren region's vegetation in the Wadi Rum protected area