Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Edge of the World - Another Riyadh Desert Adventure

The temperatures last Saturday were perfect for visiting the Edge of the World. But this week each day’s been hotter than the one before, so I suspect we had the last of the mild weather. It will soon be too hot to even venture outdoors.

The Edge of the World is located along the narrow Tuwaiq Escarpment. This is a long steep slope running along the western edge of the plateau upon which Riyadh is located. The eastern side slopes downwards gradually but the western side ends abruptly with precipitous cliffs dropping 600 m to the desert below.  To say that it’s potentially dangerous is an understatement. We knew that there’d be breath-taking panoramic views over the desert towards the horizon and along the escarpment cliffs, but we also knew that we’d have to be extremely careful.

Once off the main road we drove through a valley of acacia trees. It was pretty and green, probably because of recent rain. Here and there camels grazed on tree foliage and grass. That was the easy part of the driving. When we hit the stones and sand a little later, we appreciated our convoy of GMC plus back up truck. Too easy to get stuck, and not so easy to get unstuck.

After another half hour’s driving we reached the escarpment cliffs. Once out of the car, we stretched legs and started climbing. 

And here's what we saw when we got to the top.

Another short drive later we arrived at our second stop. Huge cracks opening up across the dry ground were a reminder of continual ongoing erosion and the danger of going too close to edges.

Our third stop was definitely the most dramatic.

As we'd travelled my husband was experimenting with a GPS feature built into his camera. This can either record the location each time a photo is taken, or can be run in a logging function in the background, regardless of whether the camera is on or off. You then plot the GPS data over the top of a google maps image. Here's one of the images he created.  

To finish off the day we made a fourth and final stop. Back towards the acacia valley, we found a shady nook, spread a carpet, and got out the food and tea. The best way to end a great day!

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