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Huber Tracks 1879

As it is our method, we dig in the history of Arabian Peninsula searching for appealing story and itinerary then we try our best to find a passionate guide who knows the area real well and had countless number of exploration trips to the same region since we are so careful with being on the right track. 

Having said that we met with Mr. Mohammed Al Ma'arik, a Saudi gentleman in his 50's from Buraidah. He has been tracing the tracks of Charles Auguste Huber​ a French orientalist and explorer who made two trips to Arabian Peninsula crossing The Big Nufud in one of the occasions in May! Huber's first trip was in 1879 where he resides in Ha'il for six months then continued his wandering in the desert of Ha'il and Tabuk making friends on his way and wrote a diary full of useful information that consists of even barometric readings of the weather at that time! 

Our explorer and guide of this itinerary Mr. Al Ma'arik is actually fond of Huber's personality as well as methodology of noting each and everything he experienced and noticed while travelling ​in the northern vast desert of Saudi Arabia! 

Mr. Al M​a'arik started his tracing of Huber tracks in 2005! sometimes going all alone to have enough time to explore certain sites with no one around to divide his attention that sometimes puts him into difficult situations such as running out of fuel or water or getting stuck in the middle of nowhere! 

One of the incident he encountered was a loose water tap​ causing leakage of water from his built-in car water tank! That was followed by a nasty stuck of his car with a high crescent shape sand dune behind him and a mountain in front of him! which resulted in a lot of sand removing attempts till he no longer can move a muscle and had to spend the night in such wilderness all alone! 

The Horizons Tours coordinated a trip in Mar 2018 where Mr. Al Ma'arik had lead us with other friends to walk on the tracks of Huber & Euting. It was one of the best trips we've taken, it's actually a dream trip as per some participants and a lifetime experience which we all had enjoyed in that area following the follower of Huber & Euting and camping bonfire weekend exactly where the two orientalists had camped!   

That was indeed a very remarkable experience especially when we followed Mr. Al ma'arik to cut 60 KM between mountains in order to reach Jabal Mahajjah! That was a very entertaining to all of the trip participants who really had expressed their amazement.  


Dahna Dunes

Anyone who knows Saudi Arabia associates it with vast red sand deserts. What they imagine of the Desert of Old Arabia is still intact especially if you travel deep into the center.

 If you are seeking what you quintessentially associate with the Arabian Desert, the vast and golden mixed with red sands of Ad'dahnna Desert  are worth exploring in the company of enthusiasts who are passionate about showing you what they know of its serenity, quietness and beauty, Its sun shine, sun set behind the waves of cascade sand dunes in addition to a night sky packed with stars far away from light pollution of the nearest cities or towns. 

Ad'dahnna is an ancient name of this particular red sand desert still in use by Saudis,, the closest definition found in classical Arabic is "Falat" which means spacious sand desert that has no water and vegetation. 

Ad'dahnna extends up to 1300 km - 800 miles, southward from the northeastern edge of Al-Nefud Al Kabeer (another huge sand desert north of Arabian Peninsula where Rally Hail is organized) to the northwestern borders of the Al Rub' Al Khali or The Empty Quarter (yet another huge sand desert), thus, Ad'dahnna links the great two sand deserts of Saudi Arabia.

This desert varies between its northeastern to southwestern borders reaching up to 50 miles. The area of its huge dunes or "Irq" (vein) plural "Uruq"  extends up to 40 to 80 km in width! 

Stunning fact: Some of its huge dunes height varies between 1500 to 2000 feet. ​

Ad'dahnna climate is intolerable during summer especially during the daytime when the heat can be over 50 degrees. Except for the Bedouin inhabitants and their herders who look after the camels and sheep, no one can cope with such heat. In winter it can freeze dropping below zero requiring lots of fire wood, a tent and thick warm blankets to keep warm. But you will be comforted by fresh sizzling delicious traditional meals warming you up and giving you the joy of winter camping. There will also be some dune bashing with extreme vigilance to avoid the vehicle rolling over or getting stuck in soft sand. Only experienced drivers with a number of 4x4s will be used on such trips.

Book with us, let us show you this marvelous experience especially in winter. We take all the necessary requirements starting from all car related stuff as each car are fully equipped with water tanks, radios for group communication, compressors and recovery equipment (two strap etc). For those who need camping gears The Horizons Tours shall provide upon request.

Dunes
Dunes

Ha’il World Heritage Site I

Hail region is rich with ancient historical monuments, the most significant discovery was in 2001 by a Saudi Archaeologist (Saad bin Abdulrahman) 320 km western of Hail the most stunning open museum of Rock Arts was found in "Rata & Manjour" mountains near a small village called As'shuwaymis which became the second "World Heritage Site" in Hail.  

The carved drawings of humans, humans in action for hunting animals, animals such as Oryxes, Ibexes and Antelopes in addition to archers and men with long spears over camels and horses sometimes, are detailed with the finishing that is so incredible by the artists of that time, there is beauty everywhere that one can enjoy in such places since the wadi which surrounded by the two mountains "Rata & Manjour" is offering that through its sandy terrain after hard lava field that had been kinda prepared with easy tracks that leads to the scattered Rock Arts sites that one needs to look at, examine as surely would miss such astonishing petroglyphs soon afterwards. We know some people who visited the site several times but each time they couldn't cover all the sites worth peeking into! 

Stunning Fact: ​

These ancient unbelievably accurate drawings "Rock Arts" are dated 12-14 thousands years, which means had been there since the three eras of Stone Age! Centuries and Centuries ago!

Other places worth seeing in western Hail, the ancient Rock Arts and inscriptions found in an isolated mountain which dates back to 10,000 years with inscriptions from first Islamic century whilst one could see clearly the carved drawings of water-buffaloes! Rare to see in Arabia which means there used to be lakes and strong humidity ideal for such creature to live in the Arabian Peninsula as experts noted.

The explorers of The Horizons Tours had figured out how to make your tour in sequence so that you won't feel bored and each two hours max will surprise you with a stop to start your hiking in history. The trip to western Hail consist of at least five major sites including a famous open land called " Al Qaa "a battlefield which one of the longest tribal wars that lasted for 40 years took place more than 17 centuries ago. Through secret shortcuts The Horizons Tours will waste no time of tour participants to get to way-points on schedule to make a memorable weekend for them. 

Visitation: Visiting As'Shuwaymis requires an approval before hand from SCTH which may take up to two weeks prior to group visit. ​

Number of participants: Must be no less than 9 ​people.

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Central Arabia

Central Arabia has one of the most remote places of Saudi Arabia that have many hidden treasures yet to be revealed.

Rock art of central Arabia

Musayqirah – Graffiti Rock 1

The site is a sandstone rock standing just 200 meters from the main escarpment that creates a natural dam blocking the flow of water and probably contributed to the formation of a lake when the climate of the Arabian Peninsula was more humid.

Thus, Musayqirah invites visitors to use their imagination to figure out how this arid place once looked when green and populated with several species that today are extinct.

There people carved animals and human figures for about 10 000 years.

Musayqirah – Graffiti Rock 1

Musayqirah – Graffiti Rock 1

Oldest carvings of Central Arabia

The Horizons Tours can also bring you to some more confidential rock art sites like the oldest carvings of central Arabia, including a representation of a water-buffalo with lyre-shaped horns that is unique in this part of the Peninsula.

The area also hosts some pre-Islamic and some early Islamic inscriptions that are rare in this part of the country.

Oldest carvings of central Arabia

Oldest carvings of central Arabia

Historical inscriptions

The region of Riyadh was also the place of major historical events during the 5th and 6th centuries CE that saw armies from ancient kingdoms of Yemen that conquered carving in the rock the tales of their conquests in an ancient South Arabian script that has today disappeared.

Ancient South Arabian script

Ancient South Arabian script

Quartz Fields

Saudi Arabia has a great variety of geological features which is revealed by the absence of dense vegetation in most parts of the country. Around Riyadh the most fascinating is probably a quartz outcrop covering the plain over 30 km². The result is a white colored ground that makes the desert look like the aftermath of a fall of hailstones. The Horizons Tours can bring you to the best viewpoint on this majestic landscape.

Quartz Fields

Quartz Fields


Dan & Karla

Ha’il World Heritage Site II

A land of dreams of ancient Arabia

From the massive Jebel Shammar till the vast extends of dunes of the majestic Nafud Al-Kebir, and from the ancient artists of prehistory till the early explorers of Arabia, Hail Province offers a travel through both mythical Arabian landscapes and time.

Ha’il is well known by the generosity of its people in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as it is the place where Hatim Al-Tai lived, who was a famous Arab poet and one of the characters of the 1001 Nights. Stories about his extreme generosity have made him an icon to Arabs up till the present day, as in the proverbial phrase "more generous than Hatem".

A'arif Fort in Hail

The capital of the province, the city of Ha’il lays on the eastern side of the massive Jebel Shammar which gave his name to one of the tribes of Saudi Arabia, the Al-Shammary, originating from this region of the Arabian Peninsula and that can be found today till Syria and the Levant.

Rock art

Hail Province hosts the most prominent Rock Arts sites of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Jubbah

Jubbah, located 90 km north of the city of Ha’il is the most famous rock art site in Saudi Arabia. This major archaeological site hosts hundreds of ancient carvings covering a large period of time starting some 10 000 years ago and that cover a wide range of representations with human representations, cattle, ibexes, oryxes, deers, gazelles, horses, camels, lions, and ostriches.

The oldest carvings that can be found on the sandstone formations are a testimony of a time when permanent lakes were watered by regular rainfalls, even on the edge of the sand dunes of the Nafoud Al-Kebir.

During the time of caravans in the first century BCE the people trading precious goods originating from the south of the Arabian Peninsula stayed in Jubbah on their way to cross the 350 km of sand dunes of the Nefud Al-Kebir as attested by the numerous so-called Thamudic inscriptions carved by travelers.​

Ancient carvings of Jubbah

Ancient carvings of Jubbah

Janine cave

Less famous than Jubbah but not less fascinating, ​Janine is one of the very rare places in Saudi Arabia where carvings where done inside a cave that is 100 meters long. On this isolated sandstone massif people let a trace of their passage for thousands of years as attested on a rock at the bottom of the cave where is represented a water-buffalo that is extinct for about 7 000 years.

Janine hosts some rare features such as graffiti in Safaitic, an ancient script that was used in Syria nearly 2000 years ago, and many carvings of hands whose signification is not clear but as SCTH speculation it is of Ethiopian origin!

There are also other ancient scripts along with human animal representations but also some more abstract drawings that remain enigmatic.

Janine Cave

Janine Cave

Fayd

The archeological site of Fayd will bring you back to the time when Arabian desert was traveled by walking merchants and pilgrims. Located halfway between Baghdad and Mecca the oasis of Fayd (in Arabic: فــيــد) was at the most strategic location along the the famous road named Darb Zubaydah after the name of the princess who had a prominent role in the improvement of the facilities along the road. The oasis that benefited from underground water​ and cisterns collecting rainwater attracted pilgrims and merchants who converged to this oasis for more than five centuries and was chanted by many famous Arab travelers.

Fortified walls of Fayd

Fortified walls of Fayd

The archaeological site comprises a Museum with explanations (in Arabic) and artifacts from the ancient fortress and its surroundings.Excavations have revealed habitations, streets, ovens, an old mosque but the most impressive feature of Fayd is the fortifications walls composed of two concentric compounds and towers made of black basalt whose dimensions give an idea of the extend of the ancient city. 

Tabah crater

It is not well-known as Saudi Arabia is an active volcanic zone with hundreds of volcanoes, especially in the western part of the country. In Tabah, near the historical site of Fayd, is a special testimony of a rare and cataclysmic event as the magma rising towards the surface met underground water. The combination of heat and water created such pressure that the ground literally blew up what created a crater that is still visible today and with an easy access to reach a good viewpoint. 

Tabah Crater

Tabah Crater

Al-Bahah

Al-Bahah is one of those few Saudi Provinces whose landscapes break all the stereotypes of Saudi Arabia, which is often seen as an endless sand dunes desert. The word al-Bahah (or Bahah without al which is equivalent to "the" in English) has many meanings; it means water and the maximum of it, the courtyard of a house, the high and abundant palm tree.

Indeed Al-Bahah will surprise you not only with its majestic mountains rising above 2000 meters, which are covered by greenery, but also with its cool and humid climate in summer. There can even be hail falling in the middle of the summer!

An adventure trip in Al-Bahah Province is all about enjoying the enchanting views, discovering the South-Arabian traditional arts, and discovering its heritage buildings.

Mountains and greenery in Al-Bahah Province (photo: Alan Morrissey)

Al-Bahah and Baljureshi

Located less than 30 kilometers from each other along the impressively high cliffs of the Sarawat mountains, Al-Bahah and Baljureshi are in fact respectively the current and the former capital of the Al-Bahah Province. And they share much more as both cities offer stunning viewpoints on the cliffs of Al-Bahah Province, historical and traditional sites, and green parks.

Al-Bahah​ (city)

The city of Al-Bahah will welcome you with its picturesque old villages which can be found throughout the whole area to the outskirts of the city. All of these traditional buildings are now abandoned but locals are proud to see visitors attracted to this testimony of the know-how of their ancestors.

The Tuesday Market in Al-Bahah is one of the largest traditional souks in the area.

All products and crafts that are sold in the souk have come from local providers and include such items as kadi, basil, honey, wickerwork, household items, textiles, livestock and birds, and more.

Traditional village in the outskirts of Al-Bahah (Alan Morrissey)

Baljureshi

Baljureshi offers one of the most dramatic viewpoints of Al-Bahah's natural wonders. Indeed, from the park located at the bottom of the majestic rock formation of Jebel Heznah, the sight from the top of the escarpment that separates the Sarawat mountains from the Tihama plain more than 2000 meters lower is breathtaking.


Visitors making a stopover at Al-Heznah will meet a familiar figure of the Province's lanscape: the stone made towers, called in Arabic "qasaba". Controversy surrounds their function — some argue that they were built as lookouts, and others that they were keeps, or even granaries. Perhaps it is a combination, although the correct position of a watchtower, on a hilltop, is the wrong place for a keep or granary.​

View on the Tehema plan from the top of the cliffs in Baljureshi

Zee Al-Ayn

Throughout the whole Province many charming traditional villages embellish the landscapes but the most famous is the historical village of Zee Al-Ain, the jewel of Al-Bahah Province that will take you by surprise. Located down the cliffs of the City of Al-Bahah it gathers unique features that make this place enchanting - the most striking being the whiteness of the marble hill the village was built on, which contrasts with the darker shades of the grandiose Sarawat mountains in the background. To complete the picture postcard view, a nearby natural spring provides water to a lush oasis surrounding the bottom of the hill.

Historical village of Zee Al-Ayn

Historical village of Zee Al-Ayn

Coming from the city of Al-Bahah, the road down the Sarawat mountains offers many spectacular viewpoints along the majestic escarpment which alone are worth the trip.


Jibal Mussala Ibrahim – Sheda

Unlike other mountain-like areas one can find in the west of Saudi Arabia, the Jibal Mussala Ibrahim has the shape of an alpine mountain with a difference in height of 1700 meters from its base to its summit, that peaks at 2222 meters.

From afar, the Jibal Mussala Ibrahim reveals its imposing silhouette with its sharp granite summit pointing at the sky, and the view from the nearby Wadi Suqamah is simply majestic. A small road with stunning viewpoints leads to the hidden treasure of that place: a village perched half way to the top (above 1600 meters) whose name is Sheda (شدا).

Jibal Mussala Ibrahim (photo: Alan Morrissey)

The weather in Sheda is much cooler and slightly dryer at the top allowing some rare plants and trees to grow around the village of Sheda, such as the elegant while flower Capparis Cartilaginea and the wide-trunk tree Dendrosicyos that is also found in the remote island of Soqotra, off Yemen.​

Capparis Cartilaginea (photo: Alan Morrissey)


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