JEDDAH: Droves of adventure seekers are turning to Saudi Arabia’s natural landscapes for their summer activity holidays.
Desert safaris, scuba diving, hiking, and paragliding are among the wide range of experiences available in the Kingdom not only to visitors from abroad but those opting for a staycation.
And tour operators have been taking advantage of the push to promote tourism in the country by running a host of exciting excursions with mountain treks, Red Sea diving expeditions, and camping trips proving particularly popular.
Favorite destinations for hiking tours include Moon Valley situated next to Jabal Al-Jadib in Jeddah, Elephant Rock in AlUla, Al-Nafud desert in the Kingdom’s north, and the Edge of the World, an escarpment northwest of Riyadh with stunning views.
Other intrepid travelers can choose to take to the air, paragliding over the remote landscape of Jabal Sawda in Abha.
Meanwhile, camel safaris, windsurfing, and 4×4 mountain riding trips are being run at desert locations such as Wadi Al-Disah in northwestern Tabuk, Ad-Dahna on the Dammam highway, Jubbah in Hail, and the dunes of Al-Araqana east of Tabuk.
Mohammed Saeed, a resident of Riyadh, recently visited Moon Valley.
He said: “The whole experience was one of those life-altering things. Setting up a tent, camping and starting a bonfire with glowing embers while being surrounded by the mind-bending shapes of the mountains was a different feel. It is one of the best-hidden gems in the city.”
Another Riyadh resident, Ali Ghamdi, said: “Going on mind-opening hikes around the Kingdom is one of my favorite activities. I have been hiking for a while and have had the opportunity to see breathtaking areas, and walk among picturesque springs, and wells.” His top three picks were Al-Ahsa Oasis, Jabal Sawda, and Edge of the World.
Ejaudeen Shaik, operation manager at Saudi Arabia Tours, which has been running trips since 2016, said the Kingdom offered many natural phenomena and thrilling ways to explore the country’s diverse landscapes.
“The tour packages are active throughout the year but during the peak season, from September to March, we have good bookings from those looking for memorable adventures in the dunes and mountains.
“We arrange packages for people to experience desert camps with activities such as sand skiing, camel riding, 4×4 dunes bashing, hiking, rock climbing, and more,” he added.
Ismael Mohammed, founder of the Saudi Trekkers tour company in Jeddah, organizes overnight desert trips including a camp and the chance to experience traditional Arabian cuisine.