saudi-arabia

Overview

A land of arid desert and scorched mountains, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conjures up all the romance and adventure of the golden age of discovery. The only country on the Arabian Peninsula with a foot in both the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, the birthplace of Islam remains arguably one of the most enigmatic countries on earth to visit.

Including historic Jeddah with its beautiful Ottoman houses, this astonishing journey takes us deep into the heart of its ancient landscapes, visiting ...
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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

10 x Breakfasts
9 x Lunches
8 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

Minibuses, coaches, 4WDs and a train. No domestic flights

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

6 nights x Premium
4 nights x Superior

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6144 Wild Miles

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip our stays range from a 5* hotel in Riyadh and a fixed desert resort camp with en-suite facilities in AlUla to a simple aparthotel in Thamad. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Wild Miles Club

When you book a trip with Wild Frontiers you are awarded points, which are based on the return distance from London to the arrival city of your trip. Points are awarded for all our holidays, including both our escorted group tours and tailor-made trips. When you accrue points, you will qualify for the following discounts on all future bookings:

Blue More than 10,000 points 2.5% discount
Bronze More than 30,000 points 5% discount
Silver More than 45,000 points 7.5% discount
Gold More than 60,000 points 10% discount

Positive Impact of this Trip

Tree
Ten trees are planted per passenger on this trip
Community
Supports Wild Frontiers Foundation community projects
Wind Turbine
A contribution to renewable energy projects

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Riyadh - Jeddah: With Jonny Bealby)
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

Day 1 Tour starts in Riyadh

Day 1 Tour starts in Riyadh

The tour starts today in Riyadh, the Kingdom’s sprawling capital. Those on the suggested group flight will arrive in the early evening but accommodation will be available from mid-afternoon for anyone arriving earlier.

Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana or similar

Day 2 Riyadh: Full Day Exploring Many Historic Sites

Day 2 Riyadh: Full Day Exploring Many Historic Sites

Today we explore the capital city and environs of Riyadh which over seven million people call home. There are a couple of key historic sites to visit including the UNESCO site of Ad Diriyah which was the location of the royal residence and the First Saudi State and one of the most historic mudbrick settlements in the world. After lunch we will then visit Masmak Fortress, Murabbah Palace (currently from the outside only) and the National Museum, finishing the day with a local dinner.

Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Riyadh - Ushaiqer - Buraydah: Settlements & Souks

Day 3 Riyadh - Ushaiqer - Buraydah: Settlements & Souks

Leaving the capital we head north-west. Our first stop will be the heritage village of Ushaiqer, one of the oldest settlements in the region which boasts some stunning traditional Najdi architecture and considered one of the most attractive places in the country. We’ll have lunch here before heading further into the country’s interior and overnight stop near to Buraydah; time permitting we will visit another souk before checking into our boutique hotel for the night.

Approx 4 hours of driving today

Al Malfa Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Buraydah - Fayd Fort - Hutaymah Crater – Ha'il

Day 4 Buraydah - Fayd Fort - Hutaymah Crater – Ha'il

With an early start today we plan to make the most of a truly unique Saudi experience. Buraydah’s lively camel market is located just a short distance outside modern-day Buraydah. This is the world’s largest camel market where thousands of camels, goats and sheep are traded every day and this morning is sure to be a feast for the senses. We then start our drive towards Ha’il, once an important stop on the camel caravan route to Mecca. En route we’ll detour to explore the distinctly impressive Hutaymah crater with a salt field at its centre where there is the option to circumnavigate the crater rim (5km circular trail).

Approx 4 - 5 hours of driving today

Holiday Villa Ha'il or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Ha'il - Jubbah - Ha'il: Rock-Art, Forts & Markets

Day 5 Ha'il - Jubbah - Ha'il: Rock-Art, Forts & Markets

A short distance north-west of Ha’il we find the UNESCO World Heritage site, Jubbah. This world-famous site features some of the best rock-art in Saudi Arabia. Strewn across the scorched rocks of Jabal Umm Sinman are thousands of intricate rock carvings, some of which are thought to be over 10,000 years old. Subjects etched into the sandstone include man, cattle, ibex, horse, ostrich and lion all of which are impressively well-preserved on their rock canvas. On returning to Ha’il we’ll have time to explore this important agricultural centre with its impressive Aarif and Qishlah forts (currently from the outside only) as well as the well-stocked souks, a popular shopping area home to a date market, clothing stalls and a women's market.

Holiday Villa Ha'il or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Ha'il - AlUla

Day 6 Ha'il - AlUla

This morning we drive to the strategically located town of AlUla, continually inhabited for millennia and rightly considered to be one Arabia’s cultural highlights.  A stunningly located desert resort will be our base for the next two nights. Exact timings over the next two days will be kept flexible but during our time in AlUla we will certainly discover why this area is becoming a must-visit location for anyone interested in the scenery and rich cultural heritage of Arabia. During our time here we plan to visit the iconic Elephant Rock, have lunch on a date-farm, embark on an exhilarating 4WD ride through the narrow overarching canyons of the Madahkil Mountain range as well as taking a walk along the Oasis Trail from Dadan south to the ruins of AlUla’s Old Town, which was for centuries a significant stop for Muslims heading south to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Of course, we will also have time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hegra (aka Mada’in Saleh). Second only in size to Petra (in neighbouring Jordan), this strategically sited Nabatean city has over one hundred ornately decorated royal tombs, including the striking Qasr Farid, dating back to the 1st century CE.

Approx 5 - 6 hours of driving today

Shaden Desert Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 AlUla: Elephant Rock, Old Town, Hegra

Day 7 AlUla: Elephant Rock, Old Town, Hegra

With a full day here, we’ll have ample time to discover why this region’s reputation is growing to perhaps one day rival that of Petra and Wadi Rum in neighbouring Jordan. Please note that many of the activities in and around AlUla are controlled by the Royal Commission for AlUla which includes the times and durations allowed for visiting the sites.

Shaden Desert Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 AlUla - Medina

Day 8 AlUla - Medina

Leaving AlUla, we effectively pick up the same route of the famous Hejaz Railway. Long since abandoned, the railway was a flagship project of the Ottomans intended to link Damascus with Mecca but which ultimately was brought to a halt by frequent sabotage under the instigation of rebel Arab tribes, some in conjunction with T.E. Lawrence during WWI. Later we'll arrive to the holy city of Medina. Home to the Prophet’s Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world, Medina was once a predominantly Jewish settlement called Yathrib and it was to here that Mohammed fled in 622AD, in what is known as the hegira, marking Year 0 for Islam. Until late 2021, the centre of the city was off-limits to non-Muslims but this is slowly changing and we should be able to view some of the key historic sites of the city.

Le Meridien Medina or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Medina - Jeddah: Prophet’s Mosque & Historic Sites

Day 9 Medina - Jeddah: Prophet’s Mosque & Historic Sites

After some more time to take in the atmosphere of the holy city of Medina, schedules permitting we then plan to take the high-speed Haramain train to the port city of Jeddah. Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital and the main gateway to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. Its historic centre, Al-Balad (The Town), once served as a major trading port along the Indian Ocean trade routes and today its distinctive architecture has seen it inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Characterised by imposing tower houses and coral stone buildings, the old centre of the city encapsulates the rich mix of influences and traditions that once flourished along these trade routes and reflects a style and tradition essentially lost now outside Saudi Arabia.

Centro Shaheen Jeddah by Rotana or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10 Jeddah: Full Day Exploring

Day 10 Jeddah: Full Day Exploring

This morning we will finish our discovery of The Kingdom by exploring the port city of Jeddah. The local motto in Arabic is Jeddah Ghair meaning “Jeddah is different” and today we find out why. The city boasts the largest seaport on the Red Sea, including the Central Fish Market where we will enjoy lunch today. Jeddah hides many a unique historic treasure inside its contemporary walls. Today we manoeuvre through the streets taking in the modern elements such as the artsy Corniche waterfront and the contrasting old city, souqs and traditional bazaars of UNESCO Al-Balad.

Centro Shaheen Jeddah by Rotana or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 Tour ends in Jeddah

Day 11 Tour ends in Jeddah

The tour officially ends after breakfast but those on the suggested group flights will have transferred to the airport long before breakfast for a very very early flight.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

With local people, culture and eco-systems in mind, responsible travel and sustainable tourism are at the core of Wild Frontiers. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our travellers but also benefits the people and places we visit.

When designing our tours, we actively seek out experiences that have a positive impact on the communities and precious environments we visit - from supporting social enterprises; resting our heads in rural homestays; and eating at locally owned restaurants; to helping fund conservation projects that protect wildlife and their habitats. 

Visit the Responsible Travel area of our website to read more, including the work of the Wild Frontiers Foundation through which we fundraise to aid community empowerment and education projects.

Reducing Single Use Plastic

We recognise the environmental issues and challenges around single-use plastic in many countries we visit and are actively working with our partners on the ground to reduce plastic waste on our tours and within the hotels and restaurants we visit. You can help to reduce your personal plastic waste by taking a refillable, filtered water bottle with you on your trip. Filtered water bottles can be refilled from water sources including your hotel room and restaurant taps, drinking fountains and refill stations. Every time you refill your bottle without the use of single-use plastic, you will be helping to reduce waste and protect the environment. Filtered Water Bottles | Wild Frontiers (wildfrontierstravel.com)

Supplementary Information

Jonny Bealby

Jonny Bealby

Founder of Wild Frontiers, Jonny Bealby, started his life in travel as adventurer and travel writer. Having written one book about motor-biking around Africa, and another about walking through a remote region of Afghanistan, he bought a horse in the Kashgar Sunday Market and rode 3000kms of the Silk Road, which culminated in his third book and a Discovery Channel film, Silk Dreams, Troubled Road. Of all the Wild Frontiers trips Jonny has been on, the walking tours have been some of his most enjoyable, rewarding and fun.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
SV 110 London Heathrow (LHR) 10:00
18th November 2024
Riyadh Airport (RUH) 19:15
18th November 2024
SV 113 Jeddah Intl Airport (JED) 02:00
28th November 2024
London Heathrow (LHR) 05:45
28th November 2024

Visas

VISAS

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact a reputable visa agency. More details can be found here - www.wildfrontierstravel.com/visa

For this tour UK & US passport holders currently require a visa for Saudi Arabia which can easily be obtained as an e-visa.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

NB. It used to be the case that anyone with a passport showing evidence of having visited Israel (including having entered or left Jordan/Egypt from posts which are known to border Israel) might be denied a visa for Saudi Arabia but it seems that this is rarely, if ever, the case these days.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.



VACCINATIONS & ADDITIONAL TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for travellers to Saudi Arabia.

For all destinations, please make sure you are up-to-date with any standard vaccinations (e.g. MMR, Hepatitis A, Tetanus) as recommended by your local health care provider. 

For the most up-to-date information on all vaccination requirements and the most suitable anti-malarial tablets, we strongly suggest that you seek advice from your local travel centre or consult an official travel health website such as www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk or www.travelhealthpro.org.uk

Covid Testing: No mandatory testing is currently required for vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers.

If necessary further details will be sent out to you upon booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas & vaccinations are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries, although given the infancy of tourism in Saudi Arabia, please be aware that the additional services we can offer are currently quite limited.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

Given the extreme summer heat of the desert, October to March is considered the optimum time for visiting Saudi Arabia. At these times of year typically you can expect daytime temperatures to reach 20 - 30C with night times, especially in the midst of winter, being surprisingly cool, often in the single digits. Rain is rare although not unheard of!

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Saudi society is going through some major changes at the moment so please bear in mind that any considerations raised here may alter at any time. Ultimately the Kingdom remains a deeply conservative country and is likely to be different from any other destination to which you may have travelled. In contrast to previous practices, there are no restrictions placed on adult women travelling solo and while it is expected that all foreign visitors will dress conservatively, women will not have to wear an abaya (the long black dress covering the body from shoulders to feet) and they will not have to cover their hair. Alcohol however is still currently forbidden and should not be brought into the country.

Tourism (other than for religious purposes) is a new concept for the Kingdom so come expecting enthusiastic but inexperienced levels of service. Its tourist infrastructure, while growing, is still minimal and its understanding of the experiences that western visitors are generally looking for remains limited especially as it currently receives considerably far fewer tourists than neighbouring countries like Oman and Jordan. As such Saudi Arabia is likely to remain a ‘challenging’ destination for a while to come, with a high likelihood of not everything going according to plan. However for us that is half the enjoyment of travelling, especially to newly opened-up and exciting destinations.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes sites can be closed for no foreseen reasons and without prior notice and that many of the activities in and around AlUla are controlled by the Royal Commission for AlUla which includes the times and durations allowed for visiting the sites.

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, however, please note the tour involves some options for desert walks so to get the most out of the tour you will need to be fit enough to enjoy these aspects of the tour. Please also note that seating in most traditional restaurants is almost always on the floor so you will need to be able to sit on the floor comfortably for periods of time. Please also note that on this trip vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for, but the selection and variety may be limited. 


THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip. On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A 10% deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6144 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.