Riyadh, capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a booming and fast growing city with great urban developments in progress. Both a metropolitan and cosmopolitan city, Riyadh is the capital of Riyadh Province and cater great varieties of tourism experience.
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Riyadh Province is rich in history and archaeology. It has magnificent sand deserts with high sand dunes, pleasing green valleys, good hiking locations, escarpments, forts, castles and numerous rock arts in wadis.
1. Musayqirah Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs, which are prehistoric rock arts, are very prominent when you set to trek in Saudi Arabia. These drawings and carvings provide us interesting information about the lives of people that inhabited the area in ancient times.
This location had been named by various travellers as Graffiti Rocks.
An about 110 Km drive from Riyadh City Center along the Makkah Road, you come across these rocks. A good number of mixed up petroglyphs like hunters, a family of ostrich, ibex and other animals, provide us clues of the life around the area when most of the deserts were covered in vegetation.
These petroglyphs are said to be of neolithic period, after 3000 BC.
The petroglyphs are on an isolated hill which makes it easy to locate in a vast area of plain land surrounding it. Southwestern part of this huge rock has a good collection of petroglyphs. Prehistoric people started to engrave and paint long before the invention of writing.
Petroglyphs of camels and horse riders. It is reasonable to assume that prehistoric people initially depicted animals that were part of their environment, life and economy.
One of the very impressive images among the collection is a family of ostrich.
Hyena-like animals, animals with long horns including ibexes, human figures and more could be found on the flat surface of these reddish black rocks.
As of 2007, it has been recorded that Saudi Arabia has over 1200 sites with an enormous number of carved and pecked Petroglyphs. Major petroglyphs from different parts of the Kingdom will be published in its own provincial pages.
2. Edge of the World
96 km north-west of Riyadh on the way to Sadous lies the magnificent sight of the ‘Edge of the world’.
Here the cliffs of Tuwaiq Escarpment drop, giving splendid views over the plain below. Edge of the World is one of the points with deep steep edges. On a foggy day, the whole plain below is an endless sea of haze.
‘Edge of the world’ runs through the central region and the gorgeous sight of the cliffs and endless panoramic view of the plains below make it an unforgettable tourist attraction.
It is an exciting experience to walk along the cliffs. It is not so difficult to walk up to the heads of these twin rocks.
If you’re interested in trekking, then you should try ‘Edge of the World’ from bottom to top.
The heights of the cliffs can easily be calculated with the size of people standing atop. As far as your eyes can reach, view of the edges is endless with different views at each point. If prepared for a backpack, the trip can be adventurous. The world below is a blend of winding lines. Once it rains, these lines transform to water streams meters wide.
3. Heet cave
Saudi Arabia is a country with rarest wild caves. Its caves have great exploration potential with unsurpassed beauty that provides unending curiosity to a caver.
Ain Heet cave or Dahl Heet is one such with an underground lake in its interior chambers. It is situated on the face of Mount Al Jubayl in a small village called Heet in Riyadh.
Between Riyadh and Al Kharj road, it is one of the easily accessible caves in the vicinity of Riyadh.
You get an exit to ‘Heet’ which is about 40km from Riyadh City Center (in the Al Kharj highway) going towards Al Kharj. About 5km from Heet Exit towards east on an off road takes you to this entrance of the cave. The wide entrance of the cave gets bigger and bigger as you go close to it.
The mouth of Ain Heet cave is about 20 meters wide and it narrows down to 5 meters while you have a distance of 100 meters inside.
Like most cave systems, Ain Heet cave is formed in the limestone by dissolving the minerals inside. It was said to be the area where the oil explorers found the first surface outcrop of Minerals in Saudi Arabia.
The cave is named Ain Heet where ‘Ain’ means ‘eye’. Once inside the cave, the meaning of ‘Ain’ gets clear that the entrance is very close to the shape of an eye.
The loose boulders in the ground make the descending a bit difficult. Sharp rocks throughout the way prove with a difficult climb. Be mindful of the rocks before stepping on it as the boulders are not fixed to the ground.
Till the visible end of the cave, there’s plenty of space to walk around and the light gets narrower until you are totally in darkness. Once the glow of sun ends, a narrow hole will lead you to one of the chambers of the cave with no light.
That is going to be a wide room with a deep underground lake!
The clarity of the water is remarkable. How deep you can see depends on how powerful your light source is.
A revisit to the cave in 2013 gave less adventure but more surprise as the water level raised more than 15-20 meters in height. Plenty of light and space to swim.
You might have heard of ‘cave diving’ or ‘desert diving’ and this is the right place if you are an experienced cave diver.
Depending on the intricacy of a cave, caving and diving require proper equipment. Needless to say, proper training is required for cave diving.
Caving in Saudi Arabia is less popular though it’s a marvellous world with full of mystery, surprise and adventure.
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