Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guide To The Edge Of The World


One of the most popular desert treks from Riyadh is the amazing Edge of the World. Definitely worth a visit because of the spectacular scenery and an unforgettable experience. The Tuwaiq escarpment that runs about 700km through central Saudi-Arabia is a scenic plateau with plenty of beautiful viewing spots.
What makes Edge of the World special is this part of the escarpment has long edges that reach outward from the plateau and the view from them looks "endless", in other words only a flat plain can be seen in the horizon as far as the eye can reach.
The location is about 90km outside of Riyadh and it takes about 1,5 hours to reach. The Edge of the World should not be tempted to reach by other than a 4x4 vehicle as the last length of the trip is very rocky and there's loose gravel and some soft sand. Some people have managed to get there by regular cars without getting stuck but it's a big risk to take. The safest bet is to go in a convoy of several cars and make sure all the cars have a full tank and a shovel, tow strap and spare tires and/or tire repair kits.
Never stop in the soft sand!
The best season for visiting would be the fall and winter months when skies are clear and the temperatures are warm or cool. Edge of the World can get extremely hot in the summer months as there is no shade there whatsoever. If you want the site all to yourself the best would be to visit on a weekday. During the years this site has become increasingly popular among expats and winter weekend afternoons might even have a small crowd on site.
When taking the trip, you should leave early enough to prepare a minimum of two hours for driving, to have at least two hours at the site and a good two hours for the way back during daylight hours. The desert track can be very tricky to drive in the dark and it's easy to get lost. Eventually all tracks lead out of the acacia valley back to the gate. It should be noted that the rangers close this gate at 6 p.m so if you don't make that time you are stuck in the acacia valley for the night.
At the site there will be a lot of climbing and walking to do to reach the actual edge, remember to take enough water with you and sun screen plus a hat.
This is the end of the desert track where the cars will be parked and the walk starts either up to the cliff toward the edge or down to the plains.
Keep in mind the whole site is in natural state and there will be no fences or warning signs anywhere, so caution needs to be practiced anywhere near the cliff ledges as there might be loose rocks and danger of falling from rock slides.
The danger of falling here is real, a western nurse fell to her death at this location a few years back while venturing too far out on the ledge. This is a good reason not to bring small children to this site or to be extremely vigilant in watching them.
Even though just climbing up the cliff from the car park is sufficient enough to enjoy the breath taking scenery, it's worth walking all the way to the end of the cliff where one can really experience the feeling of being on "the edge of the world". From the cliff continue walking right for a few hundred meters. Next there's a steep climb down and then a narrow path that leads to the last rock cliff with the spectacular views. The walk will take about 15 minutes to half hour depending on your abilities.
You will see lots of sparrows and eagles flying around the escarpment and many birds have nests in the walls.
Keep a look out for fossils too, the escarpment is rich in fossils because it used to be the bottom of the ocean some 50 million years ago! Looking down into the valley you will see dried up rivers twirling into the distance, after heavy rains they will become real rivers because the water rushes down from the escarpment into the plains. Some areas on the plains become very green in the spring time.
The climb down starts from the car park area, here you will see an opening like a window in the escarpment and by walking further there will be a small path on the right side which leads all the way down to the plain. This is a very strenuous walk and you need to take lots of water to make this trip. Here is the start of the path down to the valley:

And the view up!
On the way back to the city you can see camels, goat herders, and the occasional Saudis putting up campfires under the acacia trees. If you are planning to stay the night this would be the ideal location because the valley is full of soft sand.
Directions: From Riyadh take the road 535 (King Khaled Rd.) north heading towards Salbouk. After approximately 30 km you will reach an intersection and turn left to route 5766 heading towards Jubayla. Set the odometer at zero here. Continue straight passing through a few small towns. Eventually the road becomes route 5762 leading to Sadus. From this road you will turn off to the desert track on the left at location N24 57 21.2 E46 13 41.6, approximately 30 km from the intersection. There are no sign posts here, it's just a dirt track that seems to go nowhere but this is where you start your off-road part. There is a blue sign in Arabic about 50 meters from the road.
Now continue on this dirt track straight and you will soon see a fence on the left, continue beside it now slightly the track turning to the right. This track leads you to a dam and a gate next to a small building where the rangers are posted. Pass the gate and turn right. Now you are in Acacia valley. From here you will drive along the wadi for a good 20kms and the terrain will eventually become more rocky in the end until you reach the edge of the world location. The track has some forks in it, try to keep to the right but don't enter into the small valleys, they are dead ends. GPS coordinates for the Edge of the World end location N24 56 41.4 E45 59 32.1


29 comments:

Anonymous said...

is this a repeat post cos from memory you did a post on the same place before? lol maybe I'm just going nuts!

Noor said...

Wow this is pretty amazing. How was your EId I was wondering if you were in Riyadh last night or not.

Laylah said...

No, but I posted some pics from the site before and posted this in the desert treks tab as well!

Laylah said...

It was ok, quite busy, and yes I was here :)

Anonymous said...

That has to be the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen! Absolutely, incredibly spectacular. My, my, the world is a beautiful place. Francesca from Ottawa, Canada

Katri said...

That looks absolutely gorgeous! I have dreamed of Middle East for years now and you're really feeding my travel fever. :)

Soile said...

Ah, one of the definite highlights during my stay in Saudi. Even though it was in ther middle of the summer and the heat was killing us. Great pics too!

Karima said...

Wow great photos! Eid Mubarak from your newest follower :)

Lady Carrot said...

Amazing photos....mashAllah :)

Billy J. Lewis said...

Great post. My wife Claudia and I visited EOTW yesterday with a small caravan of friends from various embassies. We climbed down into the caves to rest in the shade after hiking around to the different peaks. We ended up having a great picnic in the valley afterwards too! Thanks for posting the GPS coordinates we hope to take visiting friends there in the future...

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! In the US we have few sources of information about daily life in Saudi. Your blog has given me a much more positive view of the country and its people. I have sent the link to my friends too.

sya said...

nice article... i want to read all of article in this blog,,,
:) thanks 4 share ..

Laylah said...

Thanks for following, Eid Mubarak!

Laylah said...

thank you sya!

Laylah said...

Thank you for the encouraging words and that makes me so happy to hear I've managed to give you a more positive impression of Saudi and the Saudi people. Even though I'm critical of certain things relating to Saudi culture at times, this doesn't mean I view everything as negative here. One of my goals for this blog has always been to give a more realistic and positive image of Saudi to the world. WHat we see in western media is often just highlighting the negatives and exaggeration and like the most recent "women only city" proved, downright lies too!

Laylah said...

Billy I'm glad you found it and enjoyed the site!

Laylah said...

Thank you! They are from several different visits :)

Laylah said...

Soile did you guys camp out there too? Maybe we can do that someday inshallah :)

Laylah said...

Thanks Katri! there re so many amazing places around here, you should definitely visit!

Laylah said...

Hi Franscesca and I agree it's really spectacular out there!

tasneem said...

lovely pics there setting up a Muslim westerner Shash by London Ghazi why don't u join? I'm English born in Saudi Arabia. n go to Arab school so I speak 2 languages.in fact im a teenager

Laylah said...

hi there, yes I've heard of the SHASH, sounds like a great idea as Long as they allow EVERYONE which means also Saudis.

Zara said...

great photos. i wish i was there!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Billy did u find the way open? I tried to go to EOTW one month ago with a group of friends but we found the access closed, some people there told us that something happened there (too many westeners partying , camping an so on) and they decided to close the way to it. Is it now open and reachable?

Archiaston Musamma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarfraz Abbasi said...

This is about the 10th time i have come to this post since i found it. Im kinda obsessed to capture this with my camera. unfortunately, and lets just say mistakenly i didnt buy a 4 x 4. I was really happy with my sedan, until i saw this post.

now im trying to get my suv friends to get to this place.should be blast to visit this. will show you the pics if and when i visit it. thanks for a great post and im sure your directions will really come in handy. been checking that spot on the google maps and you are right, keeping to the right side is acacia valley is a great tip.

have a good day

Ali Anwar said...

Made the trip today and this has to be one of the most spectacular views on the planet. Your directions were spot on :) Great write up

Romana Simmons said...

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away free. I love seeing website that understands the value of providing a quality resource for free.
Regards
Road Edge Guide Posts

Anonymous said...

would you know who the western nurse was who fell?