Your Ultimate Guide to visiting the Edge of the World outside Riyadh! Find out all you need to know about the amazing Edge of the World on your own with the help of this guide. Best times to visit, how to get there, opening times, where to hike, safety tips, driving directions and GPS co-ordinates are all listed in this guide.
One of the most popular desert treks from Riyadh is the Edge of the World along the Tuwaiq Escarpment. Definitely worth a visit and a perfect day trip because of the spectacular scenery and an unforgettable experience so close to Riyadh. The Tuwaiq escarpment that runs about 700km through central Saudi-Arabia is a scenic plateau with plenty of beautiful viewing spots. What makes Edge of the World special is this part of the escarpment has long edges that reach outward from the plateau and the view from them looks “endless”, in other words only a flat plain can be seen in the horizon as far as the eye can reach.
The location is about 90km outside of Riyadh and it takes about 1,5 hours to reach. The Edge of the World should not be attempted to reach by other than a 4×4 vehicle as the last length of the trip is very rocky and there’s loose gravel and some soft sand. Some people have managed to get there by regular cars without getting stuck but it’s a big risk to take. The safest bet is to go in a convoy of several cars and make sure all the cars have a full tank and a shovel, tow strap and spare tires and/or tire repair kits.
Never stop in the soft sand!
The best season for visiting would be the fall and winter months when skies are clear and the temperatures are warm or cool. Edge of the World can get extremely hot in the summer months because there is no shade there whatsoever. If you want the site all to yourself the best would be to visit on a weekday. During the years this site has become increasingly popular among expats and winter weekend afternoons might even have a small crowd on site.
When taking the trip, you should leave early enough to prepare a minimum of two hours for driving, to have at least two hours at the site and a good two hours for the way back during daylight hours. The desert track can be very tricky to drive in the dark and it’s easy to get lost. Eventually all tracks lead out of the acacia valley back to the gate. It should be noted that the rangers close this gate at 6 p.m so if you don’t make that time you are stuck in the acacia valley for the night.
Keep in mind the whole site is in natural state and there will be no fences or warning signs anywhere, so caution needs to be practiced anywhere near the cliff ledges as there might be loose rocks and danger of falling from rock slides.The danger of falling here is real, a respiratory therapist Laurie K. Roland (may her soul rest in peace) fell to her death at the Edge of The World. Bringing small children to this site is risky and parents should be extremely vigilant in watching them. Wear good hiking shoes or sneakers, no Crocs or sandals!
Even though just climbing up the cliff from the car park is sufficient enough to enjoy the breath-taking scenery, it’s worth walking all the way to the end of the cliff where one can really experience the feeling of being on “the edge of the world”. From the cliff continue walking right for a few hundred meters. Next there’s a steep climb down and then a narrow path that leads to the last rock cliff with the spectacular views. The walk will take about 15 minutes to half hour one way depending on your abilities.
Keep a look out for fossils too, the escarpment is rich in fossils because it used to be the bottom of the ocean some 50 million years ago! Looking down into the valley you will see dried up rivers twirling into the distance, after heavy rains they will become real rivers because the water rushes down from the escarpment into the plains. Some areas on the plains become very green in the spring time.
The climb down starts from the car park area, here you will see an opening like a window in the escarpment and by walking further there will be a small path on the right side which leads all the way down to the plain. This is a very strenuous walk and you need to take lots of water to make this trip. Here is the start of the path down to the valley:
From Riyadh take the road 535 (King Khaled Rd.) north heading towards Salbouk. After approximately 30 km you will reach an intersection and turn left to route 5766 heading towards Jubayla. Set the odometer at zero here. Continue straight passing through a few small towns. Eventually the road becomes route 5762 leading to Sadus. From this road you will turn off to the desert track on the left at location N24 57 21.2 E46 13 41.6, approximately 30 km from the intersection. There are no sign posts here, it’s just a dirt track that seems to go nowhere but this is where you start your off-road part. There is a blue sign in Arabic about 50 meters from the road.
Now continue on this dirt track straight and you will soon see a fence on the left, continue beside it now slightly the track turning to the right. This track leads you to a dam and a gate next to a small building where the rangers are posted. Pass the gate and turn right. Now you are in Acacia valley. From here you will drive along the wadi for a good 20kms and the terrain will eventually become more rocky in the end until you reach the edge of the world location. The track has some forks in it, try to keep to the right but don’t enter into the small valleys, they are dead ends.
GPS coordinates for the Edge of the World end location N24 56 41.4 E45 59 32.1
For more detailed guide to Edge of the World grab the free ebook! Download it here; Edge of the World Guide
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