Four-wheeling in the desert near Al Ula, Saudi Arabia

After a morning of sight seeing at Mada'in Saleh and a nice lunch, it was time to have some adventurous fun in the desert. 

Above photo: Al Ula from above, courtesy Mike Miller

Our group climbed into a dozen or so four-wheel drive vehicles and sped off as each driver competed with the others and trash talked over CB radios. The group of drivers were organized by Amazing Tours, a tour company out of Riyadh. Each driver uses their own vehicle and comes to help as a way of promoting their country for tourism. Our driver was Sami, a late 20s young man from Riyadh. 

Our first stop was to a lookout point high above Al Ula. What fascinated me was the terrain. I was craving a topographical map because I was fascinated by what we observed. We had started out on the desert floor at the same level as Al Ula and Mada'in Saleh, but climbed up one of the craggy cliffs to get to the lookout. 

As we climbed I noted the difference in rock color. The top was black rocks crumbling down the sides of the tan sandstone. The black was volcanic rock as the area had once been not only underwater, but also formed by volcanic activity. What was also fascinating was that after we reached the summit, it seemed as if that flat level went on for miles. It was as if we had risen to another floor of Saudi! 

If you look at this satellite map from Google, you can sort of see this. Left is the higher level and you can see the lower, sandstone levels and desert floor to the right.

The view would have been so much nicer if we had clearer air. Oh for smog and haze!

In this shot you can make out the historic, mud block city of Al Ula among the trees.

The other direction.

Then it was time for four-wheeling. We returned to the desert floor and drove close to Mada'in Saleh again. In the middle of the adventure we stopped for coffee and dates.

Please enjoy these shots of the interesting terrain and check out the video of us in the vehicle at the very end of the post.