The eid holiday this Hajj 2020 is here (at least for government employees) and it’s fast approaching for those who are working in the private sector (starts July 30). The question in everyone’s mind? WHERE TO GO? Despite of the pandemic, we are still looking for places to enjoy the great outdoors. We understand; it’s not easy dealing with all the worries and anxieties that COVID-19 brought to our lives. We need to soak on sunshine and breathe some fresh air.
Saudi Arabia has opened up to return to “normal” but keep in mind all the precautionary measures in place because the virus is still here and it looks like it’s not going anywhere soon (bakasyon ka rin sa malayong malayong planeta na walang living beings, COVID-19!). And so when going out, please remember to wear your masks and wear them properly. Bring sanitizers and alcohol sprays and wash your hands as often as you can. Practice social distancing also, especially when going to really crowded places. As for places to go to this vacation, we set our sights to somewhere near Riyadh center. As you know, international flights are still suspended and it’s sooo hot to go anywhere else in Saudi Arabia unless it’s to the mountainous areas like Abha and Al Baha.
Here are previous entries that suggest some places we wrote years ago:
You’ve probably been to these places that we’ve written about. And so here are some sort of “new” places that are worth going to if you just want a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. All you need is a car and a few hours to spare. They’re not too far from the city center and only takes 45 minutes of road travel. You won’t need a 4×4 vehicle because they’re easy to reach; no tough terrain or rough roads.
1. LAKES PARK (40 minutes away)
Lakes Park or Ringing Birds Park is around 45 minutes away from Riyadh. It has been renovated and now, it features a huge park with a lake filled with catfish (na ang lulusog!) and small “waterfalls”.
The park is clean and well-maintained! Swimming and fishing are not allowed in the lake though. The water is murky. There are ample parking spaces near the lake area and there are also clean restrooms. There are a lot of maintenance staff.
Your kids will love this park too. They can bike and run around. Always mind them though because the lake doesn’t have barriers/fences. We know it’s the peak of summer so you wouldn’t want to go there at odd hours and be toasted or baked under the sun. The park doesn’t have opening or closing hours but it’s best to go around 5AM, or earlier. You can enjoy nice weather from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM. If you go in the afternoon, best time would be around 4:00 PM so you’re there during sunset but leave before it gets dark because there are no lights near the lake.
2. SALBUKH DAM (45 minutes away)
Salbukh Dam or Salbukh Water Reservoir is known as a winter tourist destination because it keeps large quantities of rain water during the season (you won’t reach some parts of the dam when it’s the rainy/winter season). It has different interesting charms from its views, streams, stones and dragonflies. You can go up the dam or walk towards the edge of the water. You can also check out the lone tree near the water and take your moment there (muni-muni ba haha). When going to the higher areas for a better view of the dam, mind your steps and take extra care of your children; there are no railings.
The water is murkier here than the Lakes Park so you can’t wade in it. Since it’s summer, go there early morning (around 5:00 AM like we did) or afternoon (around 4:00 PM) to wait for the sunset. Again, leave when it gets hot in the day; there are not a lot of shaded areas to take cover with. In our morning trip, the temperature outside started to get unbearable by 8:00 AM.
The road is good; sedans can reach it. No need for 4×4 unless you want to explore the terrain after the proper road. There are no restrooms or proper picnic areas apart from the ones near the stream in the grounds. Bring your own stuff and food.
Before reaching the dam, you will pass through the Salbukh village where you’ll see old mud houses. It did feel like traveling back in time.
3. WADI NEMAR DAM PARK (20 minutes away)
Wadi Nemar (or Namar) is a dam with a man-made waterfall. It is a popular picnic place for families and friends because of its paved waterfront paths. It was a popular venue for events too. There are vendors of snacks, small food trucks, bouncy castles, kiddie bikes, and a nice view deck in the area. It’s still warm during the day but the heat calms down (a bit) at night but the traffic in the area worsens. Parking is quite difficult during the evening. So, time your visit.
The waterfalls has its schedule so it may or may not be flowing when you visit. Nowadays though, it’s flowing. There are ample restrooms and picnic spaces around the water area. The corniche is a great spot for picnics.
The place has undergone an extensive restoration to bring back its greens. More than 250 palms were planted!
As visitors to any place, please take care of the environment. Do not throw trash anywhere (the place is littered with them already; don’t add to it!). Dispose of your trash in the big garbage bins in the area. Take only memories and leave only footprints.