Saudi Arabia is our home for the last 9 years. We love this country and the lovely and hospitable people of this enchanting Arabian land, but we have never explored this mystical land full of unique surprises. It has the Empty Quarter on one side and the beautiful beaches of the Red Sea and Arabian sea on the other side, it is full of explored and unexplored historical treasures and artifacts.
Whether it’s summer, spring or winter break we shoot out of Saudi as soon as the vacation starts. This year the spring break was different because we decided to explore the Arabian Penninsula. This country is rich in its diversity with vast deserts, lush valleys, massive sandstone mountain structures, enormous volcanic craters, hundreds of kilometers of volcanic rocks, never-ending lava tubes, volcanoes, and beautiful serene beaches.
The day of journey arrived and we set off to the first and the longest leg of our adventure. Dhahran to Buraydah is about 758 Kilometers. We stuffed our 4×4 and started our journey around 9:30 am. Stopped over for lunch in Riyadh ate at Nando’s, not knowing that this will be our last delicious and complete meal for the next 6 days. We reached Buraydah around 9:00 pm checked into the hotel and had a good night’s sleep with nightmares of being lost in the vast sandy deserts. I have to admit that this trip was the most pleasant trip I had ever taken to the desert. It was meticulously planned, each day unfolded into a unique landform, each day had it’s rest hours and meal times, which made it a memorable trip, and there was still a lot more to explore and I would love to go and do the same 4000km road trip again or a new adventure.
This was the most exciting trip so far. Although I was really skeptical about taking the trip or not, my hubby had planned it with a group of his friends and whenever I talked about changing a day or even an hour he would yell and become angry.
It was a seven day and 4000 km long roller coaster ride.
Look what we got as we set off to our journey. “Shamaal”, Yes it’s the sandstorm that is very common in Saudi. It was 02:30 pm in the afternoon and the visibility was very poor, and the storm was accompanying us until we reached Buraydah. Fortunately, it didn’t decide to be with us any longer.
First stop was the Historical Al Fayed City,
The Historical City of Fayd – A major pilgrimage road from Baghdad to Makkah, located halfway between Kufa and Makkah and close to the crossroads between one road going to Madina and another one leading to Makkah, the oasis of Fayd was at the most strategic location of the Darb Zubaydah(Pilgrim road from Kufa; Iraq to Makkah).
In 1327 CE (727 AH) the renowned Arab explorer Ibn Battuta visited Fayd, and in his words:
“We are in the fortified town of Fayd, a large fortress in a simple land. It is surrounded by a wall and the Arabs live there along with the pilgrim’s thanks to the trade. The pilgrims leave some of their belongings there when they arrive from Iraq on their way to Makkah when they come back they collect them. Fayd is half way from to Baghdad, and from there to Kufa, it is a twelve-day march on a good road and they are thankful for the water in the cisterns”.
There is a beautiful modern building in close proximity to the ruins of Fayed city and it provides a contrasting view of the past and present architecture. By the time we came out of the ruins, our tummy’s were rumbling. Thanks to our team leader who is very fond of eating in the middle of nowhere, we found a shade of two trees right in the middle of the desert, luckily we had some pre-prepared food ready for eating. By now I had known that this is what is going to happen every day during lunch. When I was packing for this trip my hubby very conveniently said that don’t pack any food item we will buy food from there. I can definitely eat some sand kebabs and sand bread here or the other option is to have breakfast and then dinner and keep listening to the roaring of the hungry lion within you. The marvels of the modern world, fueling stations are equipped with life-saving baqqalas (food mart), they sell everything from clothes to pots to canned food, fresh fruit and, vegetables.
Found some shade for lunch, we brought some packed lunch and it was the most delicious meal with miles and miles of wilderness.
We got some visitors, a smiling camel as if it wanted to say that I have plenty of food here, this melon looking fruit is rich in water and provides energy and essential nutrients for the camels. They have to go long distances in the desert without food and water.
Off to Hutaimah Crater!
Hutaimah is a huge crater that encompasses an area of 2780 square kilometers in the northeastern Najd region (Brown, 1960). Peridotite nodules can be found around this crater. I had a mission, the moment I got off the car my eyes were glued to the ground in search of peridot. I had to look up a couple of times when hubby insisted to smile for a picture. But all of the peridots are taken already other explorer’s wives are laden with peridot necklaces and bracelets and I have no peridot to wear, a pretty sad ending of an exciting day.
We had an Arabian food feast at one of the Fueling stations, the food was good or we were really hungry after roaming in the craters and ruins.
story continued …….. Day 2