Those of you who have been living in Saudi Arabia for quite some time know the limited options we have when it comes to going out on an adventure. And if you’re a woman who just cannot sit at home and let the monotony of city life bore you away, then Saudi feels much duller and boring. Uber and Careem have surely made our lives easier but if you’re looking to go on a desert expedition or somewhere out of the Riyadh city, good luck convincing your mahrams (male relatives) to skip their weekend sleep and take you out to explore.
Edge of the world is an amazing place to drive away the boredom and bring the adrenaline rush with just 2+ hours of driving out of the main city of Riyadh. My father wouldn’t take me there and he had his reasons. So, after being recommended by a close friend, I happened to travel there with a group of amazing people earlier this month on a Friday morning. We left after having our breakfast around 10:30am on 4×4 vehicles northwest of Riyadh towards Salbouk. After passing Hayrmoula and enjoying normal roads for a good 1.5 hours, we were now at the grainy desert with no available roads, signboards or even a trail track ahead of us.
The last 30 minutes was time for us to get bumpy massages of the rough desert terrain until we could reach close to the cliffs. Since there is no well paved road yet, so only a 4×4 vehicle must be driven as it can bear the hard pebbles, rocks and deep sand. People in the past have tried with other cars, but why would you want to take the risk?
If it is your first time, do not rely on live locations. Make sure you download Maps and have an offline version ready as there is no network for the mobile data, GPS or regular calls to work. Our group was well equipped with walkie talkies as we were 3 cars departing into the wide desert. That was the only way to check on each other.
The vehicle can only take you so far. You can see the “Edge of the world” from a distance. You’d have to trek all the way to actually reach the cliff. Carry a big bottle of water, a few chocolate bars, sunblock, sanitizer, wet tissues and a cap that won’t fly off, in your backpack. Wear hiking shoes or good quality runners to maintain a good grip while trekking. Avoid sandals, crocs and slippers. And don’t forget your camera.
Once you actually reach the cliffs of Tuwaiq Escarpment, you can see the beautiful plains far below which get filled with water when it (occasionally) rains. It is a beautiful sight; the narrowness and slim shape of the cliffs, the stark contrast of heights around, the strong breeze trying to push you closer to the edge and the nothingness in front of you. One word: Peaceful. Unless, you are going with a bunch of crazy friends who want to try out their science class lesson by testing an echo.
The wind does get really strong during winters and you might be better off holding your feathery light belongings close to you or just put them in the backpack. Be careful on the cliff as there are absolutely no safety barriers to avoid accidents from happening. One of the respiratory therapists, Laurie Roland lost her life by slipping off the “Edge of the World”; the danger is real.
You can choose to wait for the sunset but that would make it difficult for you to go back while it gets really dark. We left 20 minutes before Maghrib prayer to another location to have a BBQ night under the full moon and a huge tree.
If you haven’t been there yet, get your family and friends in a 4×4 vehicle and enjoy. If you’re a girl without a ride, join CouchSurfing Riyadh. That’s how I ended up going 😉 This bunch are open minded, really organized, well prepared folks and awesome to hang out with. And the best part? You’ll get to meet people from so many different nationalities. I met a lady from South America and a guy from France. That was another first for me here in Riyadh.
Edge of the World GPS Coordinates: N24 56 41.4, E45 59 32.1