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Published: September 1st 2011
"Madain Saleh (Al-Hijr) dates back to the Nabataeans Civilization considered as one of the very important archaeological site in Saudi Arabia that is called The Capital of the Monuments as it contains huge amount of diverse and multifaceted monuments." - madainsaleh.net
We left Jeddah City at 3 am for a 10 hour ride to Al Ula, the closest town to Madain Saleh. I was quite at ease during the past first couple of hrs on the road until i was doomed to a very uncomfortable sleep since i decided not to sleep the night before it as i don't want to miss the trip. Although we made a couple of stops for a fuel refill and time for stretching and some sort of comfort. The scenery along the road was picture perfect and glad to take random shots which i will show some of it here.
There were a total of six cars in the convoy and none of us have been to Madain Saleh before so it took us 12 hours before we reached Al Ula. It would have been a lot easier if road signage were available in the place where it's supposed to be. But anyhow,
we reached the sleepy town of Al Ula safe and sound. Al-Ula climate is moderate in comparison with different part of Saudi Arabia's temperature. The average highest temperature during summer months is 43 degrees Celsius (September and August) and average lowest temperature degree in the winter months is 9 degrees Celsius (December and January), according to madainsaleh.net. Since it was a Holiday it was expected that most of the shops and restaurants will be closed. We were also well aware that we made no hotel reservations but were assured that there will be available rooms for us. It took us several twists and turns around the town before we found Madain Saleh hotel at the footstep of rock mountains surrounding the town. We did not scout for another hotels since we were all tired and starving but i think it was the most recommended hotel available in town. Although i am not certain if there are available hostel for backpackers on tight budget but the room rates in Madain Saleh hotel is quite affordable starting from SR260. Most of us stayed in a tent room type detached from the main hotel building which is much cheaper than the rooms in
the building itself. The room can accommodate 4 persons and it has two beds and a couch for the additional person and WiFi is available. 😊
There was no plan of activities during the arrival day but just to rest and prepare for the next day's excursion to Madain Saleh. After having taken a shower i managed to take a good sleep enough to compensate for the previous sleepless night. I woke up at 8 pm and went to have dinner in the hotel. They don't have a very wide range of food choices available on the menu. Serving time usually takes 20-30 mins for a simple menu. Not so impressive. After having dinner, we decided to see whats interesting in the town before we called it a night.
Woke up early for breakfast but unfortunately the hotel wont serve breakfast till 7:30 plus 30 mins serving time that means 8 am for breakfast, bummer! Since we were trying hard to get to Madain Saleh as early as possible to avoid the scorching heat. Time to say goodbye Madain Saleh hotel and head to the highlight of the trip. We drove 22 kilometers more from the town to
the main site. The heat outside was already intense but was abated by the blowing fresh air as we drove. Along the way, i have never felt so away from home as i tried not to blink to avoid missing a single point of the beauty that was unfolding in front of my bare eyes. I was full in awe everywhere i looked around. The massive rock mountains never failed to amaze me as i tried to imagine how did it transform into boulders of wonders.
Not too long, we arrived at the gate of the historic place. As far as i know, all tourists who wanted to see the antiquities must first secure a permit. The hotel where you're staying can assist regarding this matter. If you don't have an iqama (Saudi residence permit) you need to have a copy of your passport as a requirement to get the permit. There's no entrance fee to get inside. No sort of any transportation for rent to tour you around the place but the good thing is you can take your car with you and easily go from one place to another as the whole place is massive and it's nearly
impossible to just walk around considering the temperature during the day. Not so far away from the gate and the first tomb of the ancient settlers will meet you with a surprise. Carved in the orange almost red colored rock. Ingeniously designed according to the family's political position and economic status in the community. Inside the big facade is a small hall and holes where they buried the corpse and place the things significant to the dead. Unfortunately, the hall and holes are already empty. It would have been dramatic if we could actually see the skeleton and personal things of the dead. 😱 After the first tomb you can see other tombs alike carved in the massive stones around the place. If you have been to Petra in Jordan, you can expect this place to be similar to it because both were once inhabited by the Nabetaeans before they were doomed. Aside from the interesting tombs and carvings are the enigmatic rocks in different forms, shapes, and colors that makes the trip worth it. Despite the massive area of the site you can possibly see all the tombs and significant parts of the place in a day if you
have a car to drive you from one place to another otherwise it's you against the mighty sun. The archaeological site was proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. After having been drowned with the amazing sights and rich history of Madain Saleh it's sad to say goodbye but will surely visit the place once more. The whole experience was like Indiana Jones meets Lawrence of Arabia. 😊 ENJOY THE PHOTOS BELOW
P.S. Thanks to the trip organizer and to my Jaguars family. 😉
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