Slow down Camel crossing… Road trip to Madaín Saleh
We left Jeddah at 5óclock in the morning of October 28, 2012, same month when I visited the Nabatean capital of the north –PETRA in Jordan last year. Madaín Saleh is about 800 km from Jeddah. We filled our cooler with cold drinks, foods, chips, chocolates and nuts. Hence, we couldn’t find a booking on 28thwe also packed our camping gear and gadgets.
Arac Al Ula Hotel arranged the permit for us. We only e-mailed our names and iqama numbers and presto! Permit is free of charge. As the sun rises up, we stop for a while for breakfast. We are 10 adults and 4 children in 3 cars. My two brothers are with me and a very good friend of mine who also packed his sense of humor which made the trip more enjoyable.
The road was straight with a little curvature at times, surrounded with Rock Mountains; we had our second stop for lunch, a picnic under the shaded trees.As we get nearer to the place, more curvatures are evident on the road with has the road sign “slow down, camel crossing” wow! As if were passing “School zone, children crossing”. This is good, because I heard a lot of accidents happened at night when suddenly camel cross the road and bumps the car.
Our third stop is the salt pans (salt bed),
I wonder if this is the Al hasa salt pans, so excited to get down to see the place which looks like snow in the summer, and I was not able to notice the name of the area. We filled our KIA van with gasoline twice, and I can’t help not to mention that our friend’s car is Hyundai Matrix which I didn’t see him filling it, so I said “let’s buy that kind of car tomorrow immediately “joke!
We started from Jeddah to Rabigh to Thuwal to Yanbu to Al Ula then to Madaín Saleh. Ten hours driving with 3 stops and still full of energy. Al Ula is a small town which is about 22 km away to Madaín Saleh. It‘s beautiful place surrounded by valleys, plateau, green palm trees and sandy mountains.
We were advised not to camp to avoid being in trouble. So we spent a night in a furnished 3 bedroom apartment (SR600) not bad for 12 persons. The following morning we went early to Arac Hotel to get our permit, unfortunately the man –in-charged was not yet there and so we enjoyed the beautiful scenery surrounding Al Ula, blue skies, overlap valleys, red sandy mountains (red-rocks too!) with beautiful high energy friends, (am I being redundant?) huh! can’t help it, what a beautiful day!
After taking photos of the surroundings, we got our permit and arrived in Madaín Saleh only to find out there’s a big line of cars waiting outside the gate. The gate opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 6 in the evening. Those visitors who doesn’t have permit were not allowed to enter the gate.
Alas! We were able to get in, amidst of excitement and happiness, we’re all packed with high energy. Madaín Saleh featured 131 monumental rock-cut tombs spread out over a vast area (I’m not sure how big it is) we only noticed the numbers when we started taking pictures. There was no brochure or map to guide us where to start. I think they should open the gate a bit earlier for the guest to look around and appreciate the place more.
A replica of the Hijaz Railway station is a beautiful site to begin with. Followed by the Nabatean well and a different kinds of tomb.
I noticed that the outer forms are finer and decorative than the inside. We left the place around 4 pm and went to checked – in to Arac Hotel. This time we were in a hurry to catch the sunset at the biggest and highest plateau in Al Ula. The road to Al Ula plateau is narrow and soaring high, so we decided to be all together in one big car. It was a thrilling experience to chase the sun which stunningly shines reflecting the golden sandy mountains.
To be continued….
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