Saudi Arabia Explorer | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Saudi Arabia Explorer

Trip Length 9 days

From $9,795

  • Explore the ancient wonders of Saudi Arabia with the first North American tour operator to visit the Kingdom!
  • Discover the archaeologically rich city of Al 'Ula, ancient Mada’in Saleh, and the Lihyanite Tombs
  • See the contrasts of old and new Riyadh as you explore souqs and take in sweeping views from the top of the Kingdom Centre
  • Experience the spectacular night skies of the largest sand desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali

We invite you to discover the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Mountain Travel Sobek this January, 2018! On our 9-day departure, Saudi Arabia expert and guide Brid Beeler will show you the secret wonders that lie behind the Kingdom's borders. Destinations will include a tour of the largest sand desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali (the Empty Quarter), a trip to a date palm oasis, and a visit to the archaeologically rich city of Al 'Ula, a 2,000-year old ghost town on the former Incense Road. You will explore the ancient carved tombs of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of  Mada'in Saleh and take a desert safari in the canyonlands, before experiencing the Hijaz Railway made famous be T.E. Lawrence. At night, enjoy hearty Arabic cuisine and nights spent nights under the stars with Saudi-style camping. Many guests tell us that they have spent years trying to travel to Saudi Arabia. We can make it happen.

Why Travel to Saudi Arabia with Mountain Travel Sobek?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most difficult places for Western travelers to visit and Mountain Travel Sobek has already run two successful departures. Our guide Brid Beeler has over 25 years’ experience in the international travel arena. She has worked closely with VIP clients from the Saudi, Omani and British royal families, diplomats, government officials, visiting government delegations, government Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media. Brid and the Mountain Travel Sobek team understand the necessary steps needed to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we invite you to join us in 2018. 

Day 1: Arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Welcome to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Flights usually arrive in the evening and you’ll be met by a representative of MTS, who will transfer you to the hotel. Be prepared for a 30 to 40 minute immigration and customs process at the airport depending on how many flights arrive in Riyadh at the time of your flight. Hotel check-in begins at 4pm and we recommend arriving at 4pm or later (we cannot guarantee rooms will be available earlier than 4pm unless an extra night is pre-booked at an additional cost). The rest of the evening is at your leisure to enjoy the comforts of the hotel.

  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 2: Explore Ancient D’Iriyah

To ensure that everyone is rested from their international flights there are no activities planned this morning. After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel brasserie, the group will meet the guide for a trip briefing. The details and timing of the briefing will be explained once you are in the Kingdom.

In the afternoon, we'll travel north through the valley of Wadi Hanifa to D’Iriyah, which dates to the 16th century. Here we'll stroll through a labyrinth of beautiful adobe-style architecture of the first capital of the Al Saud’s, the ruling Saudi family. Many of the town’s outer walls have been meticulously restored along with major renovations to parts of the old capital.

Tonight we’ll enjoy an early evening Welcome Dinner in a traditional Saudi restaurant, where we can experience local hospitality and hearty cuisine. Return to the Radisson Blu for a good night's sleep.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 3: Visit Historical Riyadh – Camp in Al 'Ula

After breakfast, we'll continue our tour of Riyadh visiting Fort Masmak dating from 1865. The fort played a central role in the Kingdom’s history when King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, and a small band of followers seized the citadel in 1902. We will visit the nearby antique souq and gold market of D’ira souq, where we have an opportunity to do a little shopping. Return to our hotel for buffet lunch.

Next we'll check out of our hotel, leaving our luggage behind in storage—except for the whatever we need for our two nights in Mada'in Saleh. Please note that the weight limit applies.

From the hotel, we’ll go directly to the National Museum, where we will stroll through its interactive displays and incredible array of artifacts from the Kingdom. Then we will continue direct to the King Khalid airport for our flight to Al 'Ula on Saudia, departing at 8:25pm and arriving at 10:10pm. Upon arrival in Al 'Ula, we will go direct to our traditional Saudi style tented camp for the next two nights.

Please note that dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Al 'Ula

Day 4: Visit Elephant Rock, Lihyanite Tombs and Mada'in Saleh

After breakfast, we continue to visit Elephant Rock, the Lihyanite Tombs, and a date palm oasis. En route, we'll drive through old Al 'Ula and new Al 'Ula, situated in a valley of palm trees along an old caravan route dating from Nabatean and Lihyanite times. We'll explore this valley and Mada'in Saleh during our two-day visit here. Interestingly, many of the artifacts on the “Roads of Arabia Exhibit” in the United States came from the archaeological sites of Al 'Ula’s Lihyanite Tombs and Mada'in Saleh, the old Nabatean city whose capital, Petra, lies in what is now Jordan. We will discuss date palm cultivation and how the town of Al 'Ula once thrived during ancient times.

We’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, then visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mada'in Saleh. Mada'in Saleh was the second most important city in the Nabatean world and is known for its carved tombs dating to between 100BC and 100AD. Qasr Al Farid, the lonely castle of the Nabateans, is carved from a single rock monolith. We'll step back in time as we walk through the Siq and visit the Diwan, among many of the tombs in this area, and take in incredible valley views before returning to our tented camp for overnight.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Al 'Ula

Day 5: Desert Safari in Al 'Ula

Depart early for a desert safari in 4x4 vehicles traversing the desert terrain of Al 'Ula. We will explore the desert canyon lands of Al 'Ula’s beautiful rock formations before visiting the Hijaz Railway line made famous by T. E. Lawrence during World War I. Here we'll have the opportunity to explore the railway cars, steam engine, and museum, and watch a video presentation about pilgrim life.

Next we’ll return to camp for lunch and then depart by road, paralleling the Hijaz Railway and an old caravan route north—just as the Nabatean’s traveled by camel and as the pilgrims traveled when they came to Makkah on Haj and Umra. This is the countryside of T. E. Lawrence fame and the Arab Revolt with the Howeitat Bedu.

We'll arrive in Tabuk to catch our flight to Riyadh, which departs at 8:40pm and arrives at 10:40pm. Upon arrival in Riyadh we’ll transfer to our hotel, about one hour’s drive away. Please note that dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 6: Enter the Empty Quarter

After breakfast, it's time to repack our luggage for our desert adventure in the Empty Quarter. We'll leave all of our luggage behind, except for duffel bags and camera equipment. The mandatory total weight of all luggage must not to exceed 22lbs (10kgs) maximum per person for our nights in the Empty Quarter. This weight allowance includes all backpacks and camera equipment. Duffel bags need to be soft sided without wheels and without a frame. This is absolutely necessary as weight in the desert impacts our trip tremendously.

After lunch at a local restaurant serving Arabic cuisine, we'll visit The Kingdom Towers—one of Riyadh’s iconic buildings. We'll head to the top and walk across the necklace, taking in the stunning 360-degree views of the city! Next we'll continue north to the King Khalid International airport to board our domestic flight to Wadi Al Dawasir, which departs at 7:20pm and arrives at 8:30pm. Our Saudi drivers, Bedouin team, and 4x4’s will meet us and take us to our first night’s camp in Ar Rub Al Khali, known as the Empty Quarter.

Our desert camp this evening will be on the edge of Ar Rub Al Khali where we will enjoy the sparkling desert night sky in all its glory. Western-style tents will be provided along with mattresses, tents and sleeping bags. Though a light supper of fruits, dates, bread and tea will be served in camp, dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have time to eat at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Empty Quarter

Days 7-8: Desert Adventures in the Empty Quarter

After breakfast, we'll visit the ancient site of Quaraiyat Al Fau, capital of The Kingdom of Kinda (1st century BC to 4th century AD) situated at the edge of Ar Rub Al Khali on the ancient trade routes. Quaraiyat Al Fau is the most excavated site in the Kingdom and is a rich archaeological and historical gem.

Our journey in the Empty Quarter will require a sense of adventure, as it is quite likely that we'll get stuck in the sand from time to time, and much effort will go into getting us mobile once more. Plus, we will be covering some 300 miles over the next few days. Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world, and is approximately the size of France! We will traverse high desert dunes known as urgs in between flat desert floor as we travel. British explorers like Wilfred Thesiger and Bertram Thomas crossed this desert in the company of the local Bedouin. Our team, too, will be made up of local Saudi drivers. While its name implies that Ar Rub Al Khali is empty, the reality is that it is rich in flora and fauna, as you will discover on this journey. We will discuss how oryx and gazelle survive the harsh temperatures (122°F) of the summer desert.

On Day 8, we'll continue our journey in the Empty Quarter, leaving the high dunes of yesterday and traversing crescent flats where smaller islands of sands exist. Here lie 5,000-year-old lakebeds, rich with fossil remains and stone tools. African animals once roamed this region when it was a rich savannah. We will spend the day exploring this fascinating area.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Empty Quarter

Day 9: Return to Riyadh and Depart

Today, we'll journey out of the Empty Quarter traversing flat desert terrain towards Layla Lakes, which were once part of an elaborate falaj irrigation system, but are now dry. Our final journey back to Riyadh will be approximately 180 miles on asphalt roadway, and we'll enjoy snacks en route. Upon arrival in Riyadh we’ll check into the Radisson Blu hotel and be reunited with our luggage. You’ll have time to repack for your international departure flight, either later this evening after our farewell dinner, or in the early morning hours of Saturday. Please be aware that most international flights from the Kingdom are late night/early morning departures.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

2018 Rates, per person
$10,295 (9-11 members)
$9,795 (12-16 members)
$500 internal air
$550 single supplement

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MTS Camp - Al 'Ula — Al 'Ula

MTS Camp - Empty Quarter — Empty Quarter

Radisson Blu Riyadh — Riyadh

Radission Blu Riyadh offers sumptuous comfort and warm hospitality in the heat of the city. The hotel's 294 spacious rooms impress with designer elements, and amenities include free high-speed Wi-Fi, three restaurants, a lobby cafe, outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna. The imposing Murabba Palace and Masmak Fortress are a quick drive from the hotel and provide a peek inside the historic and cultural aspects of the region.

  • Explore the ancient wonders of Saudi Arabia with the first North American tour operator to visit the Kingdom!
  • Discover the archaeologically rich city of Al 'Ula, ancient Mada’in Saleh, and the Lihyanite Tombs
  • See the contrasts of old and new Riyadh as you explore souqs and take in sweeping views from the top of the Kingdom Centre
  • Experience the spectacular night skies of the largest sand desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali

We invite you to discover the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Mountain Travel Sobek this January, 2018! On our 9-day departure, Saudi Arabia expert and guide Brid Beeler will show you the secret wonders that lie behind the Kingdom's borders. Destinations will include a tour of the largest sand desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali (the Empty Quarter), a trip to a date palm oasis, and a visit to the archaeologically rich city of Al 'Ula, a 2,000-year old ghost town on the former Incense Road. You will explore the ancient carved tombs of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of  Mada'in Saleh and take a desert safari in the canyonlands, before experiencing the Hijaz Railway made famous be T.E. Lawrence. At night, enjoy hearty Arabic cuisine and nights spent nights under the stars with Saudi-style camping. Many guests tell us that they have spent years trying to travel to Saudi Arabia. We can make it happen.

Why Travel to Saudi Arabia with Mountain Travel Sobek?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most difficult places for Western travelers to visit and Mountain Travel Sobek has already run two successful departures. Our guide Brid Beeler has over 25 years’ experience in the international travel arena. She has worked closely with VIP clients from the Saudi, Omani and British royal families, diplomats, government officials, visiting government delegations, government Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media. Brid and the Mountain Travel Sobek team understand the necessary steps needed to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we invite you to join us in 2018. 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Welcome to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Flights usually arrive in the evening and you’ll be met by a representative of MTS, who will transfer you to the hotel. Be prepared for a 30 to 40 minute immigration and customs process at the airport depending on how many flights arrive in Riyadh at the time of your flight. Hotel check-in begins at 4pm and we recommend arriving at 4pm or later (we cannot guarantee rooms will be available earlier than 4pm unless an extra night is pre-booked at an additional cost). The rest of the evening is at your leisure to enjoy the comforts of the hotel.

  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 2: Explore Ancient D’Iriyah

To ensure that everyone is rested from their international flights there are no activities planned this morning. After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel brasserie, the group will meet the guide for a trip briefing. The details and timing of the briefing will be explained once you are in the Kingdom.

In the afternoon, we'll travel north through the valley of Wadi Hanifa to D’Iriyah, which dates to the 16th century. Here we'll stroll through a labyrinth of beautiful adobe-style architecture of the first capital of the Al Saud’s, the ruling Saudi family. Many of the town’s outer walls have been meticulously restored along with major renovations to parts of the old capital.

Tonight we’ll enjoy an early evening Welcome Dinner in a traditional Saudi restaurant, where we can experience local hospitality and hearty cuisine. Return to the Radisson Blu for a good night's sleep.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 3: Visit Historical Riyadh – Camp in Al 'Ula

After breakfast, we'll continue our tour of Riyadh visiting Fort Masmak dating from 1865. The fort played a central role in the Kingdom’s history when King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, and a small band of followers seized the citadel in 1902. We will visit the nearby antique souq and gold market of D’ira souq, where we have an opportunity to do a little shopping. Return to our hotel for buffet lunch.

Next we'll check out of our hotel, leaving our luggage behind in storage—except for the whatever we need for our two nights in Mada'in Saleh. Please note that the weight limit applies.

From the hotel, we’ll go directly to the National Museum, where we will stroll through its interactive displays and incredible array of artifacts from the Kingdom. Then we will continue direct to the King Khalid airport for our flight to Al 'Ula on Saudia, departing at 8:25pm and arriving at 10:10pm. Upon arrival in Al 'Ula, we will go direct to our traditional Saudi style tented camp for the next two nights.

Please note that dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Al 'Ula

Day 4: Visit Elephant Rock, Lihyanite Tombs and Mada'in Saleh

After breakfast, we continue to visit Elephant Rock, the Lihyanite Tombs, and a date palm oasis. En route, we'll drive through old Al 'Ula and new Al 'Ula, situated in a valley of palm trees along an old caravan route dating from Nabatean and Lihyanite times. We'll explore this valley and Mada'in Saleh during our two-day visit here. Interestingly, many of the artifacts on the “Roads of Arabia Exhibit” in the United States came from the archaeological sites of Al 'Ula’s Lihyanite Tombs and Mada'in Saleh, the old Nabatean city whose capital, Petra, lies in what is now Jordan. We will discuss date palm cultivation and how the town of Al 'Ula once thrived during ancient times.

We’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, then visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mada'in Saleh. Mada'in Saleh was the second most important city in the Nabatean world and is known for its carved tombs dating to between 100BC and 100AD. Qasr Al Farid, the lonely castle of the Nabateans, is carved from a single rock monolith. We'll step back in time as we walk through the Siq and visit the Diwan, among many of the tombs in this area, and take in incredible valley views before returning to our tented camp for overnight.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Al 'Ula

Day 5: Desert Safari in Al 'Ula

Depart early for a desert safari in 4x4 vehicles traversing the desert terrain of Al 'Ula. We will explore the desert canyon lands of Al 'Ula’s beautiful rock formations before visiting the Hijaz Railway line made famous by T. E. Lawrence during World War I. Here we'll have the opportunity to explore the railway cars, steam engine, and museum, and watch a video presentation about pilgrim life.

Next we’ll return to camp for lunch and then depart by road, paralleling the Hijaz Railway and an old caravan route north—just as the Nabatean’s traveled by camel and as the pilgrims traveled when they came to Makkah on Haj and Umra. This is the countryside of T. E. Lawrence fame and the Arab Revolt with the Howeitat Bedu.

We'll arrive in Tabuk to catch our flight to Riyadh, which departs at 8:40pm and arrives at 10:40pm. Upon arrival in Riyadh we’ll transfer to our hotel, about one hour’s drive away. Please note that dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Radisson Blu Riyadh

Day 6: Enter the Empty Quarter

After breakfast, it's time to repack our luggage for our desert adventure in the Empty Quarter. We'll leave all of our luggage behind, except for duffel bags and camera equipment. The mandatory total weight of all luggage must not to exceed 22lbs (10kgs) maximum per person for our nights in the Empty Quarter. This weight allowance includes all backpacks and camera equipment. Duffel bags need to be soft sided without wheels and without a frame. This is absolutely necessary as weight in the desert impacts our trip tremendously.

After lunch at a local restaurant serving Arabic cuisine, we'll visit The Kingdom Towers—one of Riyadh’s iconic buildings. We'll head to the top and walk across the necklace, taking in the stunning 360-degree views of the city! Next we'll continue north to the King Khalid International airport to board our domestic flight to Wadi Al Dawasir, which departs at 7:20pm and arrives at 8:30pm. Our Saudi drivers, Bedouin team, and 4x4’s will meet us and take us to our first night’s camp in Ar Rub Al Khali, known as the Empty Quarter.

Our desert camp this evening will be on the edge of Ar Rub Al Khali where we will enjoy the sparkling desert night sky in all its glory. Western-style tents will be provided along with mattresses, tents and sleeping bags. Though a light supper of fruits, dates, bread and tea will be served in camp, dinner on this day is not included as we will be traveling during this time, but you’ll have time to eat at the airport if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Empty Quarter

Days 7-8: Desert Adventures in the Empty Quarter

After breakfast, we'll visit the ancient site of Quaraiyat Al Fau, capital of The Kingdom of Kinda (1st century BC to 4th century AD) situated at the edge of Ar Rub Al Khali on the ancient trade routes. Quaraiyat Al Fau is the most excavated site in the Kingdom and is a rich archaeological and historical gem.

Our journey in the Empty Quarter will require a sense of adventure, as it is quite likely that we'll get stuck in the sand from time to time, and much effort will go into getting us mobile once more. Plus, we will be covering some 300 miles over the next few days. Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world, and is approximately the size of France! We will traverse high desert dunes known as urgs in between flat desert floor as we travel. British explorers like Wilfred Thesiger and Bertram Thomas crossed this desert in the company of the local Bedouin. Our team, too, will be made up of local Saudi drivers. While its name implies that Ar Rub Al Khali is empty, the reality is that it is rich in flora and fauna, as you will discover on this journey. We will discuss how oryx and gazelle survive the harsh temperatures (122°F) of the summer desert.

On Day 8, we'll continue our journey in the Empty Quarter, leaving the high dunes of yesterday and traversing crescent flats where smaller islands of sands exist. Here lie 5,000-year-old lakebeds, rich with fossil remains and stone tools. African animals once roamed this region when it was a rich savannah. We will spend the day exploring this fascinating area.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Empty Quarter

Day 9: Return to Riyadh and Depart

Today, we'll journey out of the Empty Quarter traversing flat desert terrain towards Layla Lakes, which were once part of an elaborate falaj irrigation system, but are now dry. Our final journey back to Riyadh will be approximately 180 miles on asphalt roadway, and we'll enjoy snacks en route. Upon arrival in Riyadh we’ll check into the Radisson Blu hotel and be reunited with our luggage. You’ll have time to repack for your international departure flight, either later this evening after our farewell dinner, or in the early morning hours of Saturday. Please be aware that most international flights from the Kingdom are late night/early morning departures.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
lodgings

MTS Camp - Al 'Ula — Al 'Ula

MTS Camp - Empty Quarter — Empty Quarter

Radisson Blu Riyadh — Riyadh

Radission Blu Riyadh offers sumptuous comfort and warm hospitality in the heat of the city. The hotel's 294 spacious rooms impress with designer elements, and amenities include free high-speed Wi-Fi, three restaurants, a lobby cafe, outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna. The imposing Murabba Palace and Masmak Fortress are a quick drive from the hotel and provide a peek inside the historic and cultural aspects of the region.

Dates and Pricing

No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

2018 Rates, per person
$10,295 (9-11 members)
$9,795 (12-16 members)
$500 internal air
$550 single supplement

Activity Level Moderate
Trip Length 9 days

From $9,795

Interested in this adventure? Take the next step and book it!

Got questions?

Call us at 1-888-831-7526
or click here!

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure