I have been in Saudi Arabia for 6 years now. This has been my favorite winter.
This winter I drove down with my family to Al Baha. I’ve been wanting to visit this place for a few months now. Information about this place from people I knew was almost non existent. Not many people have been there. All I could find out about this place was from Google and Wikipedia.
What really piqued my curiosity was the thought of a hill station in the middle of the desert !
Saudi Arabia has been a revelation to me. Al Baha has only furthered that. Before Saudi, my concept of a desert was a huge barren land filled with sand and dunes. KSA showed me deserts can be rocky.
Anyway, Al Baha is a picturesque piece of land lying a little over 2000m above sea level. Temperatures during our visit peaked at 11 degrees Celsius in the morning and went as low as 4 degrees Celsius at night. The mornings were mired in fog and mist. It is around 420 kms from Jeddah by road via Taif. The roads are long, winding and with very little traffic once you pass Taif.
We found a lot of viewpoints along the way up hill, all of them deserted. It’s as if no one wanted to see this beautiful place.
Lying below the hills of Al Baha, is the Tihama plain, which is more like the desert we are familiar with. Here, close to the small town of Al Makhwa, is a 400 year old abandoned village, named Thi Ain ( use these exact letters to search for the place on the wonder that is google maps). The road from Al Baha to Thi Ain village, called Aqabat King Fahad is spectacular to view. The entire stretch serpents along the the mountain face with numerous tunnels and bridges.
Once u descend Aqabat King Fahad, a turn to the right will take you to Thi Ain. A well preserved ruin!
I hope more people find time and make their way towards Al Baha – A must visit place for the Saudi expat. The tranquil drive and the surrounding scenery and the cool climate alone is reason enough in this hot desert.