To The Edge of the World

{Disclaimer: We visited Edge of the World last March of this year and yes, it took me six months to publish an entry about it. Sorry about that. I was thinking it’s summer anyways and it’s hooot to venture out into the desert. Chos, palusot. Haha! I only remembered that this entry has been sitting in our draft folder since forever because of the extended holiday that was announced a few days ago. Extra off days mean more days for road trips! Yey! ;)}

Having lived in Riyadh for seven years (oh my gahd SEVEN years!) when I only said “two” when I first came here is making me question life. Not in a bad way, I tell you. If it’s not obvious enough, I love my life in Riyadh. I’m very blessed to have my family with me here, the love of my life, the greatest friends I can ever hope for and The Pink Tarha… really, what more can I hope for? However, I know that Saudi Arabia is not mine and I’m not its. So sometimes, I succumb to the feeling of helplessness and you know what’s a cure for it? The desert.

Have you figured out where are you in this vast landscape?

Have you figured out where are you in this vast landscape?

Yes, the desert that sometimes make me feel worthless. I’m just a grain of teeny tiny sand in a vast unknown. Its emptiness churns my stomach, its arid spell cloaks the little life that breathes in it, and the dry ground shakes me off to reality. But then again, this desert makes me feel grounded. It is dry but it is full of life if you know where to look and appreciate what you have. It is full of wonders that are hard to see but worth it once found.

And what better way to find a wonder than visit (finally) the Edge of the World. It’s hard to believe that in the middle of the desert, you’ll find the edge of the world huh? It’s also hard to believe that this sun-blasted plain can suddenly turn into a landscape so vast, so wild, so free! Well, wait for it.

Ninety-six kilometers northwest of Riyadh lies the cliff of the Tuwaiq escarpment. It opens up to a window where people can get a good view of the plains below. Endless, magnificent, splendid. Words that are not usually used for deserts would suddenly come into mind. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. (Do not read this if you think we’ll show you the way to the Edge of the World because honestly, we don’t know the specifics. Read this for the experience. Read at the end of the entry for our tips and then directions sourced from other sites.)

The Journey

We started our day at nine o’clock in the morning waiting for our tour companions and guides. It was too late when I realized my Crocs flats (Hello Kitty edition at that) was not fit for this trip. Seriously, I didn’t think of rubber shoes?! I should have decided to go home but no, our Saudi friend has planned for this and her excitement got into me that I threw caution to the wind and prayed that my Crocs will hold. It would have to do. And so the journey started…

Uhmn where are we?

Uhmn where are we?

Yes, we can totally remember this direction. NOT.

Yes, we can totally remember this area. NOT.

Half an hour into the travel, the sun is already in its morning path, opening up warmly to a bright Saturday. It was ten o’clock and we were still in the highway near the old Diriyah, a heritage site that is yet to open after renovations, sharing jokes with our guide and sharing chips along the way. We were inside a Toyota Sequioa going to the Edge of the World. The SUV is new and I feel bad for our driver/owner. He’s making a huge mistake in bringing his new car to the Edge of the World. Even though it’s my first time going there, I’ve heard enough to know that we’ll be shaking our way through sandy terrains. But is he really making a mistake? Come to think of it, if his new car doesn’t work in this path, then it’s not worthy of its 4×4 status. So time to find out!

Our bad ass ride!

Our bad ass ride!

In a convoy of 4×4 vehicles heading towards Salbouk, we were leading the pack because the main guide was with us. He’s been to the Edge of the World a dozen (or more times)! Like abiding by rules and regulations in Saudi Arabia, it’s very important to listen and follow the guidelines set by the expert. Use 4×4 vehicles in going to the Edge of the World. If you’re not in one, don’t even attempt it. We’re all for taking calculated risks but trust us, drive a 4×4!

We passed by local towns on our way to Sadus. We even passed by a town that is said to become one of the premier tourist towns in Riyadh province. We were still cruising along smooth roads when we suddenly turned left and entered a rough, sandy road. In here, we’re starting the “shaky” journey.

This is the sign we saw:

Translation please.

Translation please.

There’s pretty much a straight path here, we can see it from the car tracks but our driving veered more to the left and ignored the main path although we were still following it. Going straight, we came to a dam with a gate next to it. We went inside the gate, said hellos to the park rangers, and continued our journey.

The "gate" to the entire area.

The “gate” to the entire area.

Look for this dam. It can't be that hard. Uhmn yup.

Look for this dam. It can’t be that hard. Uhmn yup.

After a while, we came to an area with lush green trees known as the Acacia Valley, a very popular picnic spot among Saudis and expats. From here, it’s a “pick your own path” game. There are no glaring signs pointing you to the Edge of the World. But while there are no posts and arrows, there is actually a sign from mother nature herself. Look for this pyramid looking mountain and follow it! It’s a tip from our guide.

Look for this mountain just after the Acacia Valley

Look for this ‘mountain’ just after the Acacia Valley

Steer clear from these thorny bushes

Steer clear from these thorny bushes

Excuse me, can you point us to the right direction please?

Excuse me, can you point us to the right direction please?

Seriously, no one can remember the path we followed because even though there were clear car marks in the sandy path, there were a lot! It still takes a good driver’s instinct to go to where he thinks is a good, sturdy path. And when our driver started driving in the “soft sand”, he went full throttle! (You can’t slow down on the soft sand because you’ll get stuck!) A good soundtrack accompanied us on this trip and we didn’t notice the bumps because we were already headbanging and jumping to the upbeat songs. (Tip, download and play all songs with “Shake” on the title, haha! Begin with Shake It Off, Shake It Off… :P)

That's a path clear enough, RIGHT?!?

That’s a path clear enough, RIGHT?!?

The Edge of the World

The lush green area soon gave way to the open desert and in here, there is only one very clear path that vehicles follow. Eventually, it leads to the Edge of the World. When we we arrived, we breathed in the warm air and immediately saw the famous “rock-framed window” that this area is known for.

The window to the Edge of the World

The window to the Edge of the World

We were already happy with the view but our companions wanted to go up and really see the magnificence that is the Edge of the World and so we climbed up and up. I was really conscious of my Crocs but it held; it survived the loose rocks and sand and I was able to see the cliffs and the splendid valleys below. Desert at its finest!

Breathtaking view of the desert

Breathtaking view of the desert

Be careful! You only have yourself to hold you back from falling.

Be careful! You only have yourself to hold you back from falling.

There are no rails or fences to keep tourists from falling so we had to exercise extreme caution and not get close to the edges of the cliffs. Our guide left us to do pretty much whatever we want and we took our time traversing the slopes and cliffs, taking pictures and having our moments with the desert. It’s amazing how this view, this place can be so grand yet so hard to reach. Pretty much like our goals right? But in the end, they’re all worth it.

Edge of the World 11

Edge of the World 10

Edge of the World 9

Edge of the World 8

Edge of the World 7

Edge of the World 6

The route where we came from.

The route where we came from.

We went down after an hour and went back to the Acacia Valley to savor a late lunch of lamb and chicken kebabs. So yummy! The food was delicious, even made yummier by our surroundings (minus the goat poops though hahaha)! We saw goats and a donkey and the girls and I had a blast following them to take photos.

Sooo hungry just waiting for these bbq to cook!

Sooo hungry just waiting for these bbq to cook!

Goats in the bushes

Goats in the bushes

I'm thrilled to see goats that are black as night with long hair! Haha!

I’m thrilled to see goats that are black as night with long hair! Haha!

Hey lonely, what are you up to?

Hey lonely, what are you up to?

Ahhhh so glad to be able to rest under the shade after a tiring hike and a full meal.

Ahhhh so glad to be able to rest under the shade after a tiring hike and a full meal.

It was three in the afternoon when we left Acacia Valley and went back to Riyadh city. We saw more families setting up tents on our way back and a few vehicles still going to the valley, probably to see the sunset. The trip was tiring; our backs hurt from all that shaking and our legs hurt from that climbing but felt really good because we finally get to see what the Edge of the World is all about. It was a once in a lifetime experience! (Well, twice if we go back haha!)

TIPS (And by this we mean PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE GOING, REALLY IMPORTANT!)

Directions (Honestly, we cannot give you specific directions because we have no idea how to commit to memory those tracks. You’ll know what we mean when you’re on it. Anyway, here’s the directions provided by the ArRiyadh City website and it’s pretty much the same way we followed except we started in our workplace and not the Kingdom Tower.)

At Kingdom Tower, Olaya, Riyadh, set your odometer at Zero. Take the Uruba Road (west) and watch for the signboard ‘King Khalid Eye Hospital’ (KKEH). At 3.7 km you will get an exit to Madinah/Qassim at the KKEH. Follow this road which after 10 km leads to Salbouk. At 34.5 km you will get an exit to Sadous/Jubayla. Take this exit and head to Sadous. You will pass by Jubayla, Uyainah and Hegra. At 66.5 km (which is 24.5 km from Jubayla) turn left to an off-road. After entering this path, on your left side is iron fence, and you may follow the track (towards west, turning slightly to your right) until you reach a fenced area with a gate at 7.5 km from the main road. Enter the gate, turn right and follow any convenient track for 22 km.

Here’s a map to the place provided by Becak Gurun over at Every Trail.

Tips and Tricks

1. If you’re going there for the first time and it’s also the first time of every single one of your companions, then don’t even attempt it. Go there with a knowledgeable guide and a skilled driver. Don’t leave it to chance because you’ll probably get lost and waste time, effort, and energy. But if you believe in the saying, “it’s in the journey and not in the destination” then please, do so if you must.

2. Use a 4×4 vehicle. Seriously. Some regular cars might have succeeded in going there and their drivers are boasting that they did it but seriously, don’t listen to them. It’s hard enough for a 4×4 vehicle, don’t waste your time on a regular car. (One of the Sequioas we were traveling with nearly got stuck in the sand and that’s already a huge 4×4 so there you go.) Make sure that your tank is full also! There are no gasoline stations nearby!

3. Go there when the weather is fine and dandy; maybe the late winter or early fall. Go there early morning so you can get back early too. I’m sure the sunset is nice and all but it’s not worth it if there’s a chance you’ll get trapped in the Acacia Valley overnight. Unless you have an idea of camping overnight then okay.

4. Wear rubber shoes and comfortable clothing. My Crocs might have survived but it was not the best footwear to scale those cliffs. Ladies can remove their abayas in this place. Wear something sporty if you’re up for it. It also looks good in the photos; it will look like you climbed the highest mountains haha. (‘I survived the Edge of the World!’)

5. Bring water and wear sunscreen and hats.

6. Exercise extreme caution. Don’t venture too near the cliff’s edges because you’ll never know how strong/sturdy those areas are. Take lots of photos and selfies if you wish but please mind where you are standing first.

7. Don’t lose sight of your companions. You might get lost, or they might. So be a good friend and always keep them in your sight.

8. Bring food for picnic if you wish. The Acacia Valley has a few trees and shaded areas where you can lay your tents or carpets.

9. Inform someone where you’re going. It’s hard to get a signal in some of the areas so it’s better to keep someone informed of your whereabouts.

10. Bring your own garbage bag. Don’t litter!

Going to the desert is fun and memorable. It’s also one of the experiences we can take pride in as Riyadhizens. Although Saudi Arabia is not ours, pieces of it have become close to our hearts because of its beauty, grandeur, and value. As workers in the Kingdom, we focus on our work and we don’t usually enjoy the great outdoors and tend to smirk at the “tourist places” that they claim as such (because we have more beautiful tourist spots in our own home country) but being here, we should really just enjoy what we have and what the Kingdom has to offer. Our world is not smaller just because we are limited of what we can and cannot do and we abide by the rules imposed on us. We do not have to go out of Saudi Arabia to begin discovering the wonders of nature and appreciating our surroundings. Sometimes, in our backyard (as far as the Riyadh province can go), we discover something exotic, something new, something amazing. We’re spending a chunk of our life here, we might as well enjoy it to the fullest.

Travel in and around Riyadh! The Edge of the World is here.

Around Riyadh Featured Inside KSA Travel

About Author

Janelle
Janelle

The Editor-in-Chief speaks 7 languages: Filipino, English, Wit, Sarcasm, Truth, Creativity, and The Pink Tarha.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar H.S.B. Reply

    Nice or rather an excellent post.!!!! Moreover, from the pictures itself, the view is breathtaking… Too bad, I was not able to visit that place when I was in Riyadh. May I know if you took this guided tour as you were mentioning a driver/guide? I came across a related post of this place from another blog (Bkueabaya) but haven’t really “immersed” reading through it (only from your post that interest to this place was ignited) Well, I guess, this is something to look forward to when visiting Riyadh again in the near future.

    More power Ladies to your blog!!!!

  2. Hi both,

    Stumbled across this while looking for some travel content to share on my Travel Blogs platform. Love what you’re doing.
    I have pinned it to my Middle East and Asia travel map, if you want to check out what I am doing, head to my website, you’ll find it on the Middle East and Asia map.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    Matt

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