11 May 2011
It has been long time we plan to explore another natural wonder of Saudi Arabia…Wahba Crater. Actual spell in Arabic was Al-Wa’bah (الوعبهِ). Since the distance to Wahba is more than 600 km from Riyadh, we decided that we should performed umrah first, then explore the wonder.
After Isha’ prayer at around 8.20 pm, we move out from home with Mr. Amin and family heading for Makkah. Our plan for this trip is to perform umrah, rest back in Taif for the night and head for Wahba Crater on our way back to Riyadh the next day.
The trip was normal as usual…the kids were excited travelling at the first or two hours, then suddenly the air is quiet as one by one falling asleep. Co-pilot has to do the job of keeping company the pilot awake. At around 12 am, we stopped by at a petrol station to fill in our tank as well as having supper since Kak Ana, Amin’s wife had prepared some meals. There we go, in one part of a petrol station, on a mat, between two car with a VP having a nice picnic in a middle of a ‘happening’ area. One rare thing that will never happened if we are back home…a moment that will always be remembered.
Picnic in the middle of the road, at midnight!
At around 4 am, we reached Miqat and target to leave at 6 am. 2 hours for rest and preparation for ihram. Exactly at 6 am, we start heading towards Makkah. Once there, we tried to find the previous car park we’ve been before not far from Masjidil Haram. However, the price has increase from SR15/hour to SR25/hour. Therefore, we made another round since we saw another one just about 10 minutes extra walk from the previous parking lot which is at SR15/hour. Alhamdulillah, we are grateful that Allah s.w.t still gave us he chance to become His visitor to this holy place. May we’ll be given the chances to become His visitor again and get an mabrur umrah .
Last but not least, having a Malay meal at D’ Saji is a must once in Makkah. Roti canai was great to fill in back our energy. On the way out from the parking lot, sadly our car got scratch when trying to turn at a very small lane with another car parking in front when making a corner out. One thing we hate most when parking car in certain Saudi parking lots. Small parking lot and lane with big cars driven by people here and people who don’t care whether their car not correctly park that may hinder other’s way. Well, what to do… things had happened and we still need to cheer up ourselves as we more things ahead to be enjoyed.
Now is time for us to head for Taif for our rest and relax.
We always like the journey back to Riyadh from Makkah through Taif Al-Hada Ring road, and this was our fifth time on this road. The highway and the view along it was just magnificent. You can’t imagine how they build this winding road up and down the mountains…so deep down where you get a twitch in your stomach when you look down imagining things you should not imagine. On the way up , you can see the cable cars running except that this time our journey was during Dzuhr prayer, so the cable car operation stop for a while. Then, half way up we’ll see people stopping by the road to get close watch of the baboons. This time around we’ll not be feeding the baboons since we want to get our rest from the tiring travelling time.
We first went to the Safari Hotel that we used to stay when we had our visit to Taif with our parents last year but cancelled it since they had increased the price and the room were not in good condition. Therefore, we drove around to find another hotel and we were bond to stay in Taif Tulip Inn. Nice and comfortable room at SR250 per night without breakfast for two double bed.
At 4 pm, we went out to explore Taif. First, we went to a playground cum park near Taif square. The kids as usual were so excited when seeing a playground. We gave them a 15-20 minutes time to run, sliding & jumping around. Next, we headed to the fruit stalls at the end of the Al-Hada Ring road highway. A long line of fruit stalls of about 500 meters selling variety of fruits according to the season. This time around the attractions were mangoes and watermelons. We bought some mangoes which was said from Yemen and oranges from Morocco. Both were delicious…sweet & juicy!
As Amin just bought a brand new high-end camera, he wanted to stop by at the peak on the highway to get some pictures. We continue driving on the road until we reach the view area. Subhanallah, for us, this is another magical wonders of Saudi Arabia. The view of the mountains with the winding roads were unbelievable. Your eyes are just not enough to savour the beauty. As we were hungry, we decided to head back to Taif and find something to eat for dinner. The U-turn was challenging as well which we think should be improve significantly. We missed two spot of U-turn where the sign-board telling it was only 100 metres away while the cars were flowing fast non-stop.
After successfully making a u-turn which was half way down already it was already getting dark. Taking positive side of the u-turn experience, we got the chance to feast the beauty of Taif highway going up with the lights glowing, revealing the beauty of the mountains and the road in a different perspective . Once we reach Taif town, we saw a Bukhari Mat’am on the left side. Again, we make a u-turn to get the rice and another u-turn to get to a picnic area that we saw when we were making u-turn to get the Bukhari rice. Wow…so many long u-turn for today! Makes you smile when recalling the moment :-).
Finally, with hungry stomach, we were able to feast our stomach with the delicious meal. The rice taste so good. Having hot rice on a cold night with an empty stomach was a bless. Alhamdulillah, a peaceful and fun night for the kids and the parents.
At around 10 pm, we head back to the hotel to get some rest as tomorrow, we still have a long day ahead.
WAHBA CRATER (Al-Wa’bah or Maqla’ Tomyah)
We had to leave early from the hotel as we target to reach home by 9 pm. It will take us around 2 hours to reach the exit to Wahba Crater. We moved from the hotel at 9.15 am. Along the way, we tried to find any restaurant or shops to pack our lunch over there. Since it was Friday and early in the morning, most shops were closed. We stopped by the last petrol station at about 20km before the exit junction to Wahba. Luckily we find the restaurant there was opened and about to finish cooking the meal for that day lunch. We bought ourselves two sets of mandis and beef soup after waiting for about 15 minutes.
We reached the exit to Wahba Crater at 11.20 am and took a left turn. There was a sign board telling us the destination was 93 km ahead. Once we turned in, we went up straight on an uneven 2-way road of about 30 km. We then passed through a small town before turning left for another 62 km according to a signboard. Along the way, we by-passed quite a several numbers of petrol stations which we were wondering why there are many of them considering the size of the town. The view along the way was calm as well with dry grasses and different sizes of dry acacia trees. About 30km later, the road is no longer in the GPS.
4km before reaching the site, we made a turn to right. We passed through 3 small bumps before hitting end of the road where they have planted poles…maybe eight of them. Once there, we can already see the magnificent view of Wahba Crater. All in all, it took us about one hour drive from the main highway. The local authorities has set up concrete huts, now covered by graffiti's, facilities for picnicking as well as camping. Camping is allowed in this area.
Lunch in the huts by the edge overlooking the 2++km in diameter crater, nice!
Though it was already summer and we were there at about 12.20 pm which the sun was straight above us, this doesn’t stop us from exploring the place. The beauty is just irresistible for anyone not to get a closer view. Diameter of the crater is about 2km across with 260 meter cliff faces down to the crater’s bottom. In the middle of the crater was a huge saltpan as much as 1 km wide. There are speculations that the crater was caused by meteorite and another theory says it is due to intense volcanic activity in the past. However, the stronger sources said the caused was due to volcanic. Geologists theorize that boiling magma from a rising volcano hit a body of groundwater, the result was a massive explosion which ended up with this big hole in the ground. On one side of the crater lies an ash cone which is all that is left of the volcano. As for us, looking at the physical surroundings of the crater, we are more inclined towards the meteorite theory.
There are 2 folklore stories among the locals regarding the place. The 1st one is about how the crater was originated. Long time ago, there was this mountain that fell in love to another mountain. Then, this mountain decided to move to India, therefore the crater was formed. The 2nd story was saying that previously the crater was filled up by waters. But for some reasons the water does not like the place, so it moved to Yemen. In both of the stories, there was not mentioning the reason why the mountain has chosen India and the water has chosen Yemen as a place to go to.
There was another theory about the crater. 800 years ago a meteor strucked the place followed by the volcanic activities. This combination theory is more logical for us by looking at the shape of the crater and the physical surroundings. At the other side of the 2.5km crater there is a lava area said to originate from the volcanic mountain some hundreds years ago. But, there was no apparent signs on the lava activities at our current side of the crater. If there was a big volcanic explosion, the lava trails and spilled must be able to be seen around the crater. But it wasn’t the case. The lava area was only can be visibly found on the other side of the crater.
Since we target to move out at 2 pm, we had to hinder ourselves from trying to climb down as we knew it will takes us a couple of hours to get down and back up. We also didn’t get to explore the northern side of the crater where there should be terrace of palm trees and green grasses as well as the lava area based on information we found on the net.
Well, this surely won’t be our last trip here. We must come back here for a whole day exploration to really satisfy our visit. We hope we can come here again early winter and able to camp. The kids also eager to climb down. May our dream comes true! May Allah gave us the way to continue our exploration of the beautiful wonders of His creation.
We then had to head back home at about 2.15 pm after driving about 1 km along the edge of the crater. Stopping twice for prayer and dinner, Alhamdulillah we reached home at around 10.30 pm. We reached home with a satisfaction albeit tired as this trip we were able to perform umrah, rest and relax in Taif and witness the beauty of Wahba Crater that we have longing for in such a long time. Another of our target exploration in Saudi has been achieved! –twð