Exposing The Hidden Canyon’s Splendour and Mother Nature’s Call For “Responsible Tourism”

The Hiker’s Maxim: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time (J.K.).”

It was Friday a week ago, 14th of April 2017, when my mobile phone activated the alarm at three o’clock in the morning. I felt woozy but immediately leaped out of bed upon remembering that I and fellow traveler & housemate Leonel Mark Tuscano (IG: thechinitowanderer) are to set out on a trip to this new nature spot in Riyadh Province called “The Hidden Canyon” for a weekend adventure.

Sir Joel Acosta (IG: zanjo_fakz), one of the many prolific graduates of Cameraderie Photography Club International was the one who invited us to join their group’s jaunt. A few minutes later we were on board his Renault Captur and zoomed off  to Panda in Takhassusi Road to meet the other joiners for briefing.

We headed southeast from the city to Ad Dilam (or Al Dulum) via an alternate route past Kamsa Kamsa Park along Al Haeer Road an hour later. What’s interesting about this route is the breathtaking scenery of deserts filled with gigantic escarpments and featureless plains stretching into a distant haze. I would have loved to capture them given the chance but circumstances told me it’s no-chance-for-photo-op part of the trip.

Most of us have experienced this stage in our lives where we find ourselves travelling on someone else’s car or some form of public transport through astounding scenery. This is the ultimate frustration: not being able to have a chance to stop and photograph wonderful scenery passing us by. What I usually do in this case is I just revel in the moment rather than force myself to shoot a snapshot. It’s a waste of time to shoot through a fast moving vehicle’s window. I’ve gone through this more times than I could remember. So just take the scenery in.

After an hour and a half, we passed by a large expanse of acacia trees and soon, the dry deep gorge came into sight. I knew we have reached the destination before the navigator’s voice said so. We then followed the vehicles’ trail beside the gorge on our left from the paved road of that long, almost endless alternate route.

From that threshold, we still had to drive about two kilometers away until we saw parked cars. “The Hidden Canyon found at last!” I immediately exclaimed.

Other than the whistling of summer zephyr and babble of fellow visitors around, all is quiet. We strolled through the edge of the canyon upon alighting from the car and went back to the group for a short talk and breakfast. We were surrounded by prickly desert trees that serve home to birds chirping a beautiful day.

We also enjoyed the ever amazing sun so powerfully hot and yet so beautiful, the way it’s always overhead and on permanent guard―ready to stamp out any aerial element that dares to darken the adventure.

Being a transitory part of this isolated terrain is surreal.

It’s nature’s best in an Arabian desert particularly when I began peering at the exquisite turquoise waters.

The Hidden Canyon is a sight to behold indeed! A sight that I want to preserve.

A sight that I want to keep for myself…yet, truth be told, impossible to do in this day and age because of overutilized tourism on social media.

Tourism is something seen as common and in most cases, good for the economy and best for people in need of nature therapy. The latter is the case in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where most of nature attractions are on the cuff.

Many may disagree that something is wrong with tourism. However, using this very place as reference, they may see a different approach to the idea.

Allow me to put a classic illustration. Through exploring the stretch of this hidden canyon on that fateful day, I saw one simple way in which tourism outrightly ruins the place’s telluric beauty: Garbage. Non-biodegradable at that!

In a place like this, tourism provides a haven for hordes of sightseers but it also tramples it.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind fellow tourists and travelers to be responsible enough in preserving the cleanliness of this canyon.

While I’m more than happy to exploit new places I’ve set foot on such as this one, I also fear participation in destroying them.

The selfie-obsessed hoards and musicophiles are forgivable but not litterbugs. I have faith in humanity but when I witnessed fellow visitors not to mention Filipinos, on that day, throwing and leaving garbage wherever and whenever they want to at the canyon and nearby areas, I somehow lost it.

Then again, the optimist in me prevailed. I believe that all we need is this reminder: No one or no local government unit is looking after the upkeep of the place; therefore, littering is a definite no-no.

Amid the earth’s degrading environment, which is common knowledge as we speak, it’s expected from us, mere visitors, to promote conservation in the outdoors, to abide by the Leave No Trace 7 Principles. Spread the word, please.

I’d like to reiterate that this nature attraction in Al Dilam is free of charge and relatively new. Keeping it clean is the least that we could do to give back to it’s worth.

I’m certain that there are still a lot of expats and locals out there eager to visit and enjoy the place.

We followed the same route driving back to the capital city. I used the entire travel time to weave the foregoing words while indulging in the breathtaking scenery of deserts filled with gigantic escarpments and featureless plains stretching into a distant haze.

This day was another exciting and meaningful day of life lessons in my travel diary.

The Eco-Warrior’s Creed: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”


Below are the details you need to get to The Hidden Canyon:

  • Address: 16382, Saudi Arabia
  • Coordinates: 23.910811,46.939980
  • Map


Related Articles

Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH)  will conduct a training course on “Leave No Trace” program in Hail (scth.gov.sa)

Take a peek at Riyadh’s New Tourism Gem: The Hidden Canyon #VantagePoint (yobynos.wordpress.com)

The Hidden Canyon of Riyadh Must Visit (riyadhfreaks.com)

The Hidden Canyon Outside Riyadh (littleexplorerblog.blogspot.com)

Riyadh’s Hidden Gems-The Diplomatic Quarter Gardens (blueabaya.com)

Regional Adventures All the Way to the Top (destinationksa.com)

SCT Launches ‘Leave No Trace’ Program (arabnews.com)

The Hidden Canyon of Saudi Arabia  (mikelchuamendoza.blogspot.com)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Always a Foreigner says:

    So sad that people must be reminded to do something that should just be common sense…pick up your trash! I was on a hike recently and came across an ENTIRE GARBAGE BAG full of beer cans and old liquor bottles. As if someone just decided to pile it all into a bag, and then leave it in the middle of the woods because they were sick of carrying it. It upset me to my core. I couldn’t believe that people would ruin land in such a careless manner. I truly hope that more people start to take up responsible tourism, because it would be a shame to have wonderful and beautiful places ruined due to lack of accountability.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I share the same pet peeve. Sentiment rather.

      Sometimes, it’s just feels extremely frustrating seeing people mindlessly throw garbage like the ground is a bin. Makes me wanna p**** someone in the face.

      Still, we do what we do best and that’s to at least remind them.


  2. Expat Panda says:

    Gorgeous photos; really sad about the litter though. Glad you are raising awareness through your blog and social media!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I’m solid with you on that. Sometimes, people’s common sense, when it comes to properly disposing garbage, gets lost when what’s convenient gets in the way.


  3. Mabel Kwong says:

    This is a very beautiful HIdden Canyon in Saudi. It’s beauty is simply striking, stunning and nothing short of spectacular. You did an amazing job of capturing it. Sharp and crisp images, as are all your summer and sunny shots. It looks like a pretty vast canyon with a lot of rocks to hike on and around. I could stay there all day and look at the emerald coloured water. Amazing to hear that entry is free and it’s open to the public.

    “best for people in need of nature therapy” Love how you describe tourism, very clever of you. Agree with you that it is sad to hear about litterbugs and people leaving their rubbish behind. Maybe there are no rubbish bins anywhere but then again, that is not an excuse at all. Nature is not obliged to prop up rubbish bins wherever we go. We all have to do our part and take shared responsibility. After all, we are all sharing this world that we live in.

    Nice to hear you enjoyed the desert scenery to and fro the Hidden Canyons. I actually like to take photos out of the window of a moving vehicle, be it a car or a train. Which is always why I always try to get a window seat to wherever I am traveling. All of my photos in one of my blog posts last year were all taken behind the window of a moving train 😀 But the trick is to shoot using manual mode with a fast shutter speed and shoot in daylight. But, there is nothing like sitting back and enjoying the view with your very own optical organs 😉 Happy traveling, Sony. Always look forward to your blog posts and your IG posts too 🙂


    1. Mabel, thank you so much for the tip and the kind words as always. I will try to apply that. Never tried manual mode actually but there’s no harm in trying, right?

      Sometimes, I wish I have Prof. Xavier’s power. The first thing I would do is to make people respect nature.


      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        No harm in trying 🙂 I am sure if you ever use manual mode, your photos will be just as magnificent. It seems like with each shot you take and the more photos you take, they get better and better.


  4. MauKurus.com says:

    I like your article, very inspiring for tourists and thank you for your post.


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