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expedition_Saudia2022-01-05T08:24:43+00:00
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Follow us into an ancient landscape. A scenery that was created by winds and fire thousands of years ago. A scenery that invites you, enthralls you and takes you into a very different and often mindblowing world. With sand dunes as soft as your lover´s arms, a wind that whispers “adventure” in your ear and a culture that will make you dream of 1001 nights.

Saudi Arabia only opened to western tourism a couple of years ago and this makes this destination a perfect one for us: not many Europeans have travelled here, a lot of places are nearly “undiscovered” and wait only for us. The locals are welcoming and friendly and when having a closer look, one finds that Saudi Arabia is not at all like the picture the media is drawing.

Another point making this country so exciting is its ancient and even biblical history: Moses crossed the Red Sea and came into Saudi Arabia, ancient hunter-gatherers left their marks on numerous rocks scattered all over the country and ancient kings were buried in huge tombs hewn into the rocks at Hegra.

So much to see, so much to discover. Visiting Saudi Arabia will be a breathtaking experience.

Trip reviews of past trips

Information

Destination:

Saudi Arabia

Date:

March 2022/November 2022

Duration:

21 days

Participants:

min. 8 – max. 12

Expedition Type:

offroad, camping, exploring, culture, comfort low

Base Price:

600 USD

*General info about expeditions and sign up you can find in our FAQs

The base price should be either paid in full after signing up or a deposit has to be made and the rest of the base price to be paid before the expedition.

The base price includes

  • guiding services for the whole duration of the expedition in your language
  • planning and organizing a basic itinerary for the trip
  • assistance and help with preparations before the trip and during the expedition
  • full knowledge and experience of your guides

The base price doesn´t include

  • expenses for transport – flights range from 400,- USD return from Vienna to 600 USD.
  • Visa costs 126 EUR via the online e-visa website
  • expenses for transport in Saudi Arabia – car rental– price per person with a full car 4+1 is max. 500 USD p.p.
  • fuel costs – 120 USD p.p.
  • food costs, including coffees here and there – max. 210 USD p.p.
  • accommodation costs – mostly we will camp in the desert for free, in towns we may look for little hotels – max. 160 USD p.p.
  • entrance to monuments –110 USD p.p.
  • alternative activities – 150-200 USD p.p.
  • personal expenses – that depends on what souvenirs you buy etc. – 100, 200, 400 USD? p.p.

The rough expenses for a 3-week expedition through Saudi Arabia = 2500 USD (that´s a price that has no competition)

These estimated costs are a rough guide and are calculated on a maximum basis. A detailed list of estimated expenses will be sent to each participant together with the itinerary, map and more info after the signup.

Some of the expenses are paid for by each participant during the expedition and this directly to the service provider. Since our first expedition with a group through Africa we have always used a simple system for group related expenses – a “group kitty” (expedition fund) – where every participant puts in a certain amount at the beginning of the trip and that money is used to pay for all group-related expenses (like fuel, fees, food etc.) Every expense is meticulously written down. Any other, not group-related expenses have to be paid for by the participant alone.

You can find more information about prices and expenses in Africa below, in our „IN AFRICA“ section and also in + RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES where you can find out what else to do during the trip and get an idea, what costs what.

Have you decided on becoming an expedition member to explore the unknown? Fill in your registration with us, that is your first step into the adventure. This is where the preparations start.

Information about the itinerary

The detailed info about each expedition containing info about the car, equipment, what to take with you, what not to bring and much more will be sent out to you in our “information for team members”.

Visa

To be able to enter Saudi Arabia you need a visa. This needs to be applied for before the trip and can be done online here. We don´t charge any handling fee for that, you only pay for your visa online. The costs for it are 535 SAR.

Personal meeting

After signing up of all team members we would like to have a personal meeting with the whole group, where we can get to know each other a bit and where we talk about the itinerary (you can have your say in this also!) If a personal meeting is not possible, we can organize an online meeting (skype, zoom) and we can talk about any questions you may have.

Consulting and advice

While you are preparing for your trip, we are at your disposition with hints, advice and recommendations.

You will receive an information pack after your sign up.

What and how to pack

Travel light and comfortable. Best is to have collapsible bags, not a suitcase. It should be resilient to dust and general traveling. What proved ideal is a normal backpack and a small day pack. Weight wise it should not be more than 20kg plus tent. You won´t need too many clothes, just the basics, light but also a sweater. You will need to stick to the baggage-guideline.

More info will be sent out to you after your sign up.

Passport

will have to be valid for at least 6 months after the trip and not contain an Israeli visa.

 

Vaccination

it is not in our competence to recommend you vaccinations or to make a plan for you, you will need to talk to professionals about it. Your GP is your first point, otherwise some health or travel medical centres will be able to help you. What we can recommend is that we think it´s a good idea to be vaccinated against some of the major diseases. It may happen that you will be asked to prove a yellow fever vaccination upon arrival. What we can also do is telling you what WE are vaccinated against and what is written in our international vaccination pass:

  • Hepathitis A, B
  • Meningitis
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Yellow fever
  • Rabies

 

Travel insurance

travel insurance is something very important and a must-have. If you want to join one of our expeditions, you MUST have a travel insurance. This protects yourself and us.

In general – some countries, that you need visas for will ask about a travel insurance as well, for example Namibia for Czech citizens.

You will find some more info on each country in our online guide, which we prepared for you on our website.

Online guide SAUDIA

Base itinerary and recommended activities

This is a very rough itinerary, there is a lot to see, especially in the Northern part of the country. There are volcanoes, desert, sandstone mountains, historical places, rock tombs and much more. We would like to discover as much as we can.

 

 

  1. Jeddah: This is where we would like to start our journey, renting a car in Jeddah and depending on the time either start driving the same day or staying overnight, discovering the city. What we would like to do is visit Mekkah if we can, we have info that it may be possible to get into the city. We will see about that.
  2. Medina: The 2nd holiest city for Muslims, Medina is a pilgrim´s city as well. We as “Christians” (better to say we are christians than atheists!) should be able to get into this town. Not far from there is an area called Harrat Khaybar, an area full of volcano craters, some of them white, some of them black. The photos we have seen look magnificient! We would like to camp there somewhere.
  3. Al Ula and Wadi Disah: Al Ula is a town full of resorts, quite modern, but also has an old, very historical part full of mud buildings, ancient mosques etc. Close to Al Ula there are some nice rock formations, one of them the famous Elephant rock. Wadi Disah is a canyon in the desert with breathtaking scenery. Would be nice to camp there.
  4. Hegra, Madain Saleh and Jibal Al Rukkab: Another fascinating place. Hegra is the place where old kings are buried in rock tombs cut into the mountains, a bit similar to Petra in Jordan. Jibal al Rukkab is another canyon-like landscape where we would like to find the ancient rock engravings.
  5. Tabuk and Hisma Desert: Jebel Al Lawz. An unreal landscape expects us, and one which is very ancient, historical and even biblical. It is here where we can follow in the footsteps of Moses. Some also call this area the “Wadi Rum of Saudi Arabia” – basically the famous Wadi continues here and offers spectacular views and scenery like on a different planet. There is a good amount of ancient rock art waiting for us there, too.
  6. Maqna and Gulf of Aqaba: Here we can look across the Gulf of Aqaba to the Sinai on the other side. Magna has a biblical significance too, here we can find the “wells of Moses”. Apparently, Moses, when leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, arrived in Magna and found the springs of Bir Al-Sai´dani – we will visit them and enjoy the views over the sea. Apparently, it is possible to dive here, we will find out about prices. Not far from there is Wadi Tayyib – another canyon to be explored.
  7. Sakaka: Dumat al Jandal, Qasr Zaba´al and Nefud Al Kebir: We leave the coast and return towards Tabuk, then we continue through the desert to an ancient meeting point of old trade routes close to the town of Sakaka. Dumat al Jandal is an oasis and thus an important point. We would like to try and visit local palm plantations, see the irrigation system and get a general idea of life in the desert. We will see old fortresses, old mosques and typical arabic style buildings. We could also visit the old fortress of Qasr Zaba´ala. On our route South again, we can stop in Jubbah, where apparently there are the most impressive rock carvings on the whole Arab peninsula. It is even a UNESCO site!
  8. Fayd, Hail, Jubbah: More desert as we cross the Arabian Peninsula to go South. As mentioned before, there is Jubbah waiting for us with its stunning rock art, and there will be lots of oasis settlements, palm groves, sand, camels and everything that we imagine when thinking “Middle East”.
  9. Buraiydah and Al Waba Crater: Buraydah is the date capital of Saudi Arabia, so we hope for markets! On the way back towards Jeddah through the desert we would like to stop at the Waba volcano crater and take a hike!

In general, those are some of the main points on our itinerary, we are pretty sure that there is much more to discover. We don´t want to exaggerate the driven distances though, as we think it´s more important to explore places properly instead of rushing through them. If you have any ideas or any other input, let us know so we can all make a plan together.

Enrich your trip with a few unforgettable outdoor or cultural activities. A list will be sent to you by email after you registered with us for the expedition.

In Africa

The start of our expedition is in Jeddah or Riyadh. Mostly, we travel with Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, Saudi Air, Egypt Air or Ethiopian. The price depends on your departure airport. We mostly fly Turkish, they have a good service, interesting prices and Istanbul doesn´t make much trouble with security scans.

If you fly through Cairo you can´t bring a drone as they are forbidden in Egypt! Also, no pork, alcohol, porn magazines allowed in Saudi Arabia!

It is not necessary that the whole groups flies over together. If some want, they could fly over earlier or depart later, in case they want to explore a bit more of Saudi Arabia. We will meet you at the airport when your flight arrives.

Within Jeddah or Riyadh we will either use the local public transport or we can rent a normal 2×4, which is relatively cheap and sufficient.
For the expedition we will rent 4×4 vehicles. That is the only option if we want to go into the desert and far away from civilization. The daily fee for one of these cars outside of Khartoum can be anything from 100 to 150 USD per day plus fuel. Luckily, fuel is something that costs only a fraction of what it costs in Europe or Southern Africa. A litre costs about 50 to 60 cents.
You have to calculate roughly 500-600 USD for your rental part for the 3 weeks.

In the capital, we will stay in a guesthouse, if we can or we use airbnb or rent an apartment for all of us. Prices will be around 30-50 USD per night. (maximum!) On our expedition we will camp, you need to bring your own tent or need to share the tent with someone from the group. Also bring a mattress and a sleeping bag. In Saudi Arabia, car rental companies don´t have camping equipment. In the desert there is peace and quiet, often we can also sleep under the stars on the carpet. Camping in the desert is free and allowed. We may get invited at times or find a guest house here and there. Prices depend on negotiation.
Expenses for accommodation should not be more than 160 USD

We will either cook on our own or we will visit local food shops, snack bars and “restaurants”. For breakfast we will mostly go into a restaurant, locals just love having foreigners for a visit. In town we will usually try a lot of their specialties. Fresh juices or an aromatic coffee is something we will have every day.

In the desert, we won´t find any restaurants, so we will cook our own food. We will just cook what we bought together on the market, there will be some cooking equipment we need to get at the market.

The main shopping we will do before leaving the capital, on our trip we will just stock up in little shops and markets. Mostly, we start the day with a tea or coffee and leave breakfast for later, in a town. When we go deeper into the desert we will certainly need to stock up more and be prepared.

Word of advice – eating food in Saudi Arabia is different from what we are used to. Mostly breakfast is served in bowls and everybody is dipping their bread into one bowl and only with the right hand. Sometimes they may have cutlery, but very rarely.

Expenses for a full stomach will be a maximum of 210 USD.

Saudi Arabia is a muslim country with sharia law – you need to stick to the basic rules. Most of all the dress code – men should have long pants to cover their knees, t-shirts with short sleeves at least, no singlets. Women should have long sleeves, long pants or a skirt. They should bring something to cover their hair with.
Intimate behaviour in public is not possible and impolite. The left hand is the “dirty one”, not to be used with people, money or food. You can´t buy any alcohol or beer, but rather fresh juices and coffee.
As mentioned before, you shouldn´t bring alcohol, pork, weapons, drugs or porn magazines. Any disobedience could bring us into big problems.

Weather

Our expedition runs in winter time, but don´t worry, winter in Saudi Arabia is not like winter at home. Temperature will still reach 25 – 23 degrees and more during daytime, night time will be cooler in some places, humid in others. We can´t really tell exactly as in the last years, the weather surprised us a lot. One year in January we needed 2 sweaters, the other year in January we had 35 degrees. Take light clothes but also something warm, just in case. We don´t expect rain, only a desert storm could hit us but then we just hide away.

Internet and communication

You can choose from 3 main service providers, prices for data is cheaper than in Europe, the coverage is surprisingly good, sometimes even in the desert.

Safety

Saudi Arabia, apart from what the media wants us to believe, is mostly a safe country. The border areas with Yemen, are still not completely safe, but situations change quickly, as everywhere in Africa. For travelling around Saudi Arabia one doesn´t need a travel permit. Saudi people are very helpful, friendly and polite.

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