A Trip Up North in Saudi Arabia

We left Jeddah at a decent time and reached Jabal Antar on the west side of the Hijaz Railway just north of Madina late in the afternoon. As true hashers by 7 a.m. next morning the summit of Jabal Antar had been climbed and for breakfast (fried eggs!) we were back at the campsite.

jebel antar view camp jebel antar lok rainer

Two days of driving along the Hijaz Railway was a slice of "modern" history.  (Check out the book "Off-Road in the Hejaz" by Patrick Pierard and Patrick Legros for a good appetite whetter.)  At the engines of Hijaz Railway the boys could live their dream of being an engine driver. The workshop of the station at Mada’in Saleh might soon be functioning again - at least the place will be fully illuminated by hundreds of street lamps (the street lamp production factory must belong too somebody important….)

The tour guide for Mada’in Saleh happened to be the former Jeddah Expat Patrick and he gave us an excellent tour of all the sites.

Madain Saleh   elefant rock

The petroglyphs of Jubbah were the next points of interest on our list. It took us several hours to convince the Emir to take the key, open the gates and show us around.  Declining his offer of coffee, tea and dates out of respect for Ramadan might have been what finally tipped the scales to make it happen.  But it was worth the effort (as in starvation) and the Kodak and Fuji companies could report an increase in sales almost immediately.


The plan was to reach Sakaka via the direct route through the Nafud (the Great Nafud Desert).  After one day of shoveling sand we had a very cold night with frost on the tents and frozen water bottles.  Realizing we had only made it about 50 km we decided to take the easy but long way around to Sakaka.  Even though some of us had excellent showering facilities at the campsites the hot water and bathtubs at Al Nusl Hotel were very welcome.

nafud   reifenwechsel   schieben

Our guide for the Al Jouf area did his best but suffered from the Ramadan syndrome and wasn’t too talkative.  But we visited a wonderful museum and all the sites and again the picture business went up.

omars mosque   qasr zabal   

The long trip to Tabuk was interrupted by geological lectures via radio and therefore not as boring as expected.  And the campsite between the sandstone cliffs West of Tabuk was just marvelous.

bedureiter   wadi sadr

The temperature went up again and by the time we reached the Red Sea via Wadi Sadr we were all sweating. The sea was so inviting that we had to go in. The lack of a swimsuit didn’t hold the ladies back; there is no problem in this country since you always carry your abaya with you.

From the Tabuk/Duba road leads a washboard track to Wadi Disah. And after about 40 km we hit the tarmac road to Wadi Disah...…also from the Tabuk/Duba road... But never mind -- the Monument Valley was spectacular and we would have stayed longer if there hadn't been a time schedule.

monument valley   im campindianer  pinocchio   

Beach camping South of Duba wasn’t as easy as to the North due to the Coast Guard.  The Coast Guard soldiers were so impressed by the Pathfinder's travel letter, that he had to go with them to see their General.  After his return we had the most protected campsite in the Kingdom. (We wonder if they watched those strolls out of the camp to water the dunes in the middle of the night?)


The last highlight was crystal hunting in the hills around Al Wajh.  With the help of our geological experts we were quite successful even though it was very steep and very hot!

We saw the lights of Jeddah on the evening of the 13th day.


The Swiss car mechanic we took along was quite helpful.  Since there was no room for the special German toolbox it was very good to have him.

We consumed:

We also don’t count the consumed liquids..…

November 2002

Trundle and Dr. D.