A Travellerspoint blog

Edge of the World

Stunning desert scenery


View Saudi Arabia 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After a morning at leisure, Ali, our guide here in Riyadh, picks us up at 13:00, with the words: “Have you had lunch?” When we confirm that we have not eaten anything since breakfast, he replies: “Oh good!”

Heading North West out of Riyadh, he stops in a small town to buy food from a restaurant for our picnic. Being very environmentally conscious, he carries his own insulated food containers, so that no packaging is wasted. I like him already!

Our first stop after we turn off the tarmac road is a small area of Huraymila National Park, where Arabian Sand Gazelle, locally known as Reem Deer (Gazella marica), have been reintroduced.

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Off Road Driving
There is a marked dirt track leading to the Edge of the World viewpoint, but Ali, like us, thinks it is much more fun to drive off-road. He is obviously a very experienced 4x4 driver, something that is confirmed when he tells us he is on the board of the organisation that rescues stranded motorists in this region.

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Picnic
We spend a little time looking for the best spot to enjoy our picnic lunch; somewhere that is free of scorpions and snakes and offers some shade from the fierce Arabian sun. We find the perfect place in a dried-up riverbed.

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Ali has come prepared, with blankets, mats, cushions, and pouffes to sit on, as well as bowls, cutlery, and paper towels.

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With my bad knee, I would be unable to get back off the floor if I was to sit that far down, so I have brought my own foldable stool. I love this stool, with its clever telescopic mechanism – it was invaluable during my trip to France, where I used it all the time while I was photographing the white horses of Camargue. It folds down really small, is surprisingly light, and is extremely strong, marketed as being able to hold 500 lbs, which is considerably more than my large frame weighs.

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As soon as I set the stool down on the ground and plonk my bottom on it, I hear some ominous creaking. I immediately start to get back up again, but too late: the whole thing has collapsed in a thousand pieces below me, leaving me on my back on the desert floor, flailing my arms and legs in the air like an upturned beetle, and rolling with laughter.

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The poor stool

Ali springs into action. Getting David to grab me under my left elbow, he places both his hands under my arms and effortlessly lifts me up again as if I am just an ordinary shopping bag in the grocery store. Wow!

You will be pleased to know that the only thing that was injured was the stool.

Post note: as soon as we got home, we wrote to the seller, explaining what happened, and had a very nice reply with apologies and full responsibility as well as a replacement stool.

For safety and comfort, I retire to the front seat of the car to eat my lunch.

Lamb Mandi
Originating in Yemen, mandi is a very popular dish in Saudi Arabia. Traditionally cooked in an underground oven, these days a tandoor is usually used. Initially, the meat is boiled with special spices, and the spiced stock is then used to cook the basmati rice at the bottom of the tandoor. The meat is suspended inside the tandoor above the rice and without touching the charcoal. After that, the whole tandoor is then closed with clay for up to eight hours.

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The tasty meat falls off the bone, and the rice is lovely and fluffy. There is so much food left over, however, I feel rather guilty for not eating more.

After finishing up our lunch and packing away up the leftovers to feed to the animals later, we make our way back to the main track. There used to be two choices of two tracks leading up to the Edge of the World, but following a fatal accident involving Italian tourists and their driver, the other route was closed for safety reasons.

We can see from a distance that we are most certainly not going to be alone at the viewpoint, so when Ali suggests going to another area he knows, which also has some spectacular views, we jump at the chance.

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Not only do I get some good images of this stunning scenery, but I also have a very willing model to 'photobomb' my images while dressed the part. Perfect!

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Edge of the World
The spectacular cliffs popularly known as The Edge of the World, are part of the 800-km long Tuwaiq Escarpment. The official name is Jebel Fihrayn.

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It is a very popular place for an afternoon excursion, taking around 1.5 hours from Riyadh, especially on a weekend (today is Saturday). I didn't expect it to be quite so touristy, there is even an official car park here!

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Not being a fan of heights and having a healthy respect for crumbling cliffs, there is no way you'd find me climbing to the top of this rock.

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Looking out over the edge of the precipice, you can see the ancient ocean floor some 300 metres below.

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As you can see, the view I had hoped to get for my photograph, is photobombed by a group of Americans having a picnic. With some clever composition and a little Photoshop magic, I manage to get a semi-decent shot without them.

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We hang around to see the sun set behind the rocks, then head back to the main road avoiding the official dirt track so as not to travel behind other vehicles and eat their dust!

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Ali heads for a spot in the national park where there is a small well/spring for animals to have access to water. He leaves the leftover food here for the wildlife to finish off.

Stopping just once more for Ali to partake in his evening prayers, we head back to the main road, Riyadh and our hotel, where we learn that poor Bacha was not informed that we were leaving at 13:00, not 16:00 as we first thought, and he turned up at 16:00 to much confusion.

Room Service
Back at the hotel, we struggle to get into the room as the key card, which has been quite temperamental, is now completely refusing to cooperate. After having it reprogrammed by reception, it works first time.

We order a couple of pepperoni pizzas from room service, of course, pepperoni is made from beef, not pork here in Saudi. When they arrive, we realise that we could probably have made do with just one between us, as they are quite large. There is lots of cheese, the base is crispy and the filling is tasty.

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We take an early night after a great day, as organised for us by Undiscovered Destinations.

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Posted by Grete Howard 22:04 Archived in Saudi Arabia Tagged sunset fall off_road 4x4 crowds photoshop weekend cliff picnic photography pizza national_park mandi 4wd gazelle riyadh lamb saudi_arabia viewpoint traditional_food undiscovered_destinations off_road_driving jebel touristy room_service huraymila huraymila_national_park arabian_sand_gazelle sand_gazelle edge_of_the_world collapsible_stool telescopic_stool foldable_stool falling_off lamb_mandi arabic_food photobombs precipice ancient_ocean_floor tuwaiq tuwaiq_escarpment escarpment jebel_fihrayn

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Comments

The photos are amazing as always. And you guide posing in some of them adds a wonderful effect.

Larry

by littlesam1

Aww, thanks Larry ♥ The guide was great, and looked the part!

by Grete Howard

Your pictures are just as amazing as the scenery. You bought the stool in KSA?

by Aadil Desai

Thank you very much, Aadil. ♥
We brought the stool with us from the UK. We bought it online a few months earlier, and I used it a lot in France in August. It is a very useful stool!

by Grete Howard

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