Last weekend we visited one of my favorite spots in the desert just outside of Riyadh, a beautiful place I have coined the “Secret Lake”. Secret, because not so many people seem to know of the existence of such a hidden gem so close to Riyadh, which I think is actually for the better. Unfortunately many of the most popular, picturesque picnic and camping areas have been ruined by litter! One such example is another desert lake, Lake Kharrarah at the Red Sand dunes, which on the weekends hosts half of Riyadh for a picnic!
But not the Secret lake..not many people know about its location, which I think is good for protecting the nature of the area. Many places in Riyadh sadly have been destroyed because of influx of too much traffic, people visiting and littering the places. To keep the location generally “secret“, I won’t post the coordinates and map publicly. I would not want the destruction of Secret Lake on my shoulders.
UPDATE 2018 April: Someone has burned the forest at the Secret Lake and all the trees have been destroyed. There has not been enough rain this year and the lake is dry as of April 2018.
Back to the story about our visit to the Secret Lake in November 2012. During our previous trip to this amazing desert oasis in May 2012, the lake still had deep water in it. Surprisingly there was so much water that sea weed and even fish were living in it. I was amazed by this tranquil and green place midst the harsh dry landscape. The area seems like the last place you would ever find water in! The first time I visited Secret Lake was back in 2009 and it still looks pretty much the same, untouched by mass loads of picnic goers and trash.
However, when we visited the lake in November 2012, most of the water had dried up and in the lake’s place was a beautiful green meadow full of flowers. At the end of the lake there’s large green willows growing very tall reeds. A cacophony of birds and frogs can be heard there but mostly not seen.
These kinds of temporary desert lakes form after heavy rainfalls, normally occurring during the winter months. Because the surrounding area is so arid, all the rainwater flushes down the dry hills into the valleys, from where it travels to the lowest grounds forming seasonal lakes such as this one.
The wind blows softly through the reeds, swishing them back and forth. It looks like waves in the ocean.The sound is so peaceful, so calming.
I could stare at it for hours and not get bored!
Delicate like little snowflakes.
My friend Mandi who writes the blog Under the Abaya came with us and I’m so glad she enjoyed the trip despite the lack of water! After our little picnic we decided to climb up the hill to catch a better view of the lake.
My husband watched the babies next to the area we found water at, while Mandi and I made our way up the hill like nimble mountain gazelles (not).
A small sign of life peaking through from the rocks.
The sun was setting behind the hills and the light started to color the valley first a golden hew and then a beautiful pink color.
The view from the top is beautiful!
This area is rich in fossils because it used to be the bottom of the ocean some 50 million years ago. I found this rock which I call the “caterpillar fossil”.
UPDATE: Available now the ebook guide to the Secret Lake with GPS- coordinates, maps, directions and more!
UPDATE: January 24th, 2016. Lake is full of deep, clear water!
UPDATE February 19th 2016 Lake is still full of deep blue crystal clear water.
UPDATE 2018 April: There has not been enough rain this year to fill up the lake and it’s currently completely dried out. There’s also been a fire at the forest part and sadly all the trees have been burned down.
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!