The Hiker’s Maxim: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time (J.K.).”
Four years ago, I and three of my friends failed at setting foot on the Edge of the World. This was a predicament that eventually became a blessing in disguise (“A Series of Unfortunate Events“) and where the failed expectations became boosters for our hunger to see the place when the chance presents itself again.
That chance came on the 26th of January this year, a couple of months ago.
It was another winter Friday morning at around 4:00 AM, 26th of January 2018, when I and friends, drove to Panda Takhassussi to meet the crew in charge of the arranged 4X4 vehicles for the trip to the Edge of the World. An hour later, we headed to Jubaylah to realize the headtrip.
There is always that comforting feeling whenever I get to see the natural land structure of Saudi through the various tweiqs in different sizes and shapes visible on either sides of the road. This familiar scenery is what I always anticipate each time I am on a cruise along the highway going out of the city.
The same goes for all of us inside the vehicle while we were traveling. Other than the music in the background, those desert views through the window kept the mood alive in the entire course of the journey especially when we were driving along the seemingly untrodden road before and past the acacia valley area. Nevertheless, the different forms of natural barriers along the way did not stop us from reaching the intended destination.
The drive to this desert area took nearly two hours from the threshold.
By then, what were grabbing our attention were palm trees and other green, thorny plants stretched for miles in-between big, cascading plateaus and foothills along the picnic spot called Acacia Valley (other references call it Sha’ib Kharma).
The valley runs for approximately 15 kilometers towards the west until it reaches the massive cliffs of the famous Edge of the World and its spectacular vantage points.
Acacia Valley is a part of the old Darb al Hijaz that ran between Nejd and Hijaz.
The abundant trees around the valley made it a very popular cookout spot in Riyadh. We were once again refreshed of how unique the Arabian terrain is.
The trees’ population started to fiddle out though as we made our way nearer to the Edge of the World.
The journey from the threshold was a combination of terror and joy. The long and winding roads carved out of the sides of the hills are terrifying but the panorama was, without a doubt, ravishing. The next thing we saw was that familiar Edge of the World sweeping vista that is all over social media posts.
We were suddenly filled with unimaginable excitement because it meant hiking in order to get the best of this famous and timeless tourist spot.
Before traipsing around the place, we had to gorge our sacs with energy-boosting food and drinks.
The ambiance is definitely inviting and the trail looks manageable.
We had to take a few photos of ourselves and that familiar landscape view before the ascent.
So we continued climbing until we reached the craggy peaks of the plateaus.
Up there, we we saw the highland takes on a different form. Our surrounding began to resemble the Grand Canyon or those familiar table hills ranging in the badlands and mountainous regions of Southwestern United States.
Looking at the unique views up there made me realize, once again, that we live in beautiful, good world. There is so much beauty more so if you look beyond or choose to see the silver lining of every situation.
It also made me see how truly endless the possibilities are upon looking at the offing of this dried sea down to its amazing rock beds.
Standing on the ledge of Edge of the World’s two highest cliffs was surreal. The ecstasy was a mixture of being in Biblical times and the present.
We were obliged to stop a few times along the way to the peaks on foot to take pictures. Glad we did, without sacrificing being one with nature and losing focus on feeling the entirety of the place.
One good thing about the Edge of the World is that the hardtop leading to the gates of the site was a product of local authorities’ conscious effort at ensuring its upkeep. There are designated guards checking the area from time to time to ensure visitors abide by the Leave No Trace Principles. It is prohibited to litter and / or collect stuff from the place such as coral stones or woods.
Funny how this desert landscape with an endless horizon mirrors so much about some of life’s harsh realities, lessons, even mysteries. The road to the Edge of the World is a long, rough, and winding one but it is what paved the path to such a rewarding view in the end. All the challenges that came out of the journey made me realize once again how everything is relative.
Hiking the trails of this well-known tourist spot re-energized me like no other. I so missed it!
Soon, the craggy peaks, the mesas, and Acacia Valley’s lush trees rolled away to distant horizon. It was time to leave the place and get back to our cubbyholes with a revitalized soul and body.
My heartfelt gratitude to the The Blue Thobe—Mel, Mitet, and Uno—for the invite. I, Jett, Ren, and Leonel could have not made it to that famous tourist spot in Riyadh without you.
The Eco-Warrior’s Creed: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”
How to Get There?
Click here for the map.
N24 56 41.4 E45 59 32.1 is Edge of the World’s GPS coordinates.
Note: The rocky track poses difficulties. Navigating the place requires a proper 4X4 to ensure safety to Edge of the World and back.
References and Related Articles
The Edge of the world – Guide (thoughts-notes.com)
Edge of the Worl (saudiarabiatourismguide.com)
A Visit to the Edge of the World in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (lifeinsaudiarabia.net)
Journey to the Edge of the World (fourseasons.com)