The Secret Lake

secret-lake-desert-riyadh ccLast 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.


 green desert lake riyadh

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.

 It was very quiet and we were now the only people there.

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!

Mandi making her way down. Be careful of the loose rocks especially when coming down.

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”.

The dried up river bed. We were in a hurry to leave the site shortly after sunset because it becomes very difficult to drive here in the dark. We had such a lovely time despite the lake being dried up! When we visited in November the winter rains had not come in yet and it had been a really hot summer, so that might explain the drying up of such a huge amount of water.
P.S You’d definitely need a SUV to reach the location because the roads are in terrible condition. With a normal car you’d be looking at a 1-2 km walk to the lake from where you must leave the car, which is not at all bad when the weather is nice!
PLEASE take all trash away with you! Please protect the Secret Lake and leave nothing else behind than your footprints.

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: December 2016: There is water in the lake following November rains.


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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  • NikkianaDecember 17, 2012 - 1:04 am

    Wow! That place looks really beautiful. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Umm AbudiDecember 17, 2012 - 5:44 am

    Jazakillah khair! This is a beautiful place! My family is always on the lookout for new picnic places…we’ll try to go here this weekend, inshaAllah. (Don’t worry, we won’t leave any litter behind :) )ReplyCancel

    • LaylahDecember 22, 2012 - 11:00 pm

      Umm Abudi- enjoy it and leave only footprints :)ReplyCancel

  • JennyDecember 17, 2012 - 4:32 am

    What an incredible place! I loved the pictures of the different plants and how they changed through the dried up lake bed. The desert is amazing.ReplyCancel

  • JennyDecember 17, 2012 - 4:34 am

    What an incredible place! I loved the pictures of the different plants that thrived in this unique setting.ReplyCancel

  • flawlessvelvetDecember 21, 2012 - 1:46 am

    How long does it take to get there?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahDecember 22, 2012 - 10:59 pm

      About 30 minutes from DQReplyCancel

  • NoorDecember 24, 2012 - 4:38 pm

    Wow its so pretty I want to go there so bad.ReplyCancel

  • NoorDecember 24, 2012 - 4:38 pm

    You go girl lova ya!ReplyCancel

  • bigstickDecember 27, 2012 - 7:54 pm


    Great pictures.

    Have a happy Winter Solstice and New Year. :)


  • The Secret Eye of L.A.Y.L.A.H. |September 5, 2013 - 1:21 pm

    […] Blue Abaya: The Secret Lake […]ReplyCancel

  • Mohannad zidaneSeptember 8, 2013 - 10:19 am

    That’s really beautiful place. Could you tell us where is it exactly?ReplyCancel

  • TusharJanuary 24, 2014 - 9:59 pm

    Dear Layla, Thanks to your excellent directions we found the secret lake. Its really amazing. It was full of water as it rained a lot this year. We recommend going there before it becomes too hot and the lake dries. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJanuary 25, 2014 - 10:21 am

      Wonderful!! Thank you for the feedback and letting us know there’s water in it :)ReplyCancel

  • Mohammad AmmarJanuary 25, 2014 - 9:45 pm

    Please share the GPS coordinates

  • TusharJanuary 27, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Dear Layla,
    I have got some real good pictures of the lake full with water. How can I share it with your blog? We also want to tell you that we left no litter there and also request others visiting there to do the same. Pl carry back your litter and preserve the beauty of the lake.:)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJanuary 27, 2014 - 10:20 pm

      if you want you could email them to me, or I can post them on the Facebook page too :)ReplyCancel

      • jhunexSeptember 28, 2015 - 12:50 am

        Dear Layla,

        We would to go to this secret lake.. how can we find the location? please help us. thank u.

        please email me the location.ReplyCancel

    • FaizMay 4, 2015 - 9:50 am

      Can u please provide the GPS Co-ordinates for this lake….ReplyCancel

  • Nur Qyyum NgApril 5, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    Visited this place today…. I can only say “MASYAALLAH … BEAUTIFUL!!”…. we finally found the place after almost 2 hours search….
    we followed your direction… The 3 forks road before reaching the lake has become 2 forks…. :)
    that was where we kind of got “lost” but never giving up…. Alhamdullilah, we found it….
    thank you Layla…ReplyCancel

  • Wael HJanuary 8, 2015 - 9:59 am

    Can you please post the GPS in Google map the please.

    Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • Ten Beautiful Places to Discover in the Desert » Blue AbayaJanuary 26, 2015 - 12:36 am

    […] and sometimes even a small waterfall can be spotted there. There is a lesser known location, a Secret Lake, which has very deep water and even fish in it, located also just outside of the city. The lake […]ReplyCancel

  • FebNovember 2, 2015 - 11:23 am

    Hi, Can i get the GPS coordinates please ?ReplyCancel

  • tyamustaphaNovember 24, 2015 - 9:18 pm

    Hi im new here in riyadh working as a nurse in kamc. Where should i start my travelling around ksa? I always wanted to go out but i dont know many places round here. . ??ReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaNovember 25, 2015 - 1:58 pm

      Start by doing the closer stuff around Riyadh, for example Ushaiger Heritage village :)ReplyCancel

  • sufyanDecember 18, 2015 - 1:21 am

    Please share co-ordinates for this location , i am pretty confusedReplyCancel

  • Arabian LauraJanuary 16, 2016 - 3:12 pm

    Downloadable ebook coming soon where you will get all that info from, stay tuned!ReplyCancel

    • NanditaFebruary 3, 2016 - 11:46 am


      Plasee could you give us the location – would like a vist this weekend if possible. TksReplyCancel

  • Arabian LauraFebruary 7, 2016 - 11:44 pm

    Hi Sufyan!

    The Ebook guide I wrote about the Secret lake will give you clear directions, maps and gps coordinates, so you don’t have to be confused anymore :)ReplyCancel

  • […] known amazing place in Saudi Arabia is this Riyadh Hidden Gem: The Secret Lake For more amazing places to see in Saudi Arabia click here! Experienced and […]ReplyCancel

    • BertApril 25, 2016 - 1:44 pm

      Nice try Rakan but it is not the correct location. I’ve been there and it is one of beautiful hidden places to visit with crossover 2×4 car can do at the moment (my yaris car did it sometime ago before the flood). We found frogs & fishes when we went there but unfortunately I cant say or post the location cause it will never be a secret no more.ReplyCancel

      • Arabian LauraApril 27, 2016 - 10:54 pm

        Thank you Bert for the comment, and you’re right. Posting the location publicly is a sure fire way to ruin the experience for everyone.
        That’s why I have protected the location for 4 years now since I wrote about it.

  • William HurleyJanuary 13, 2018 - 11:16 am

    We followed the detailed directions in the guidebook to the Secret Lake yesterday. Thank you so much for developing them. I wanted to provide an update.
    The lake was DRY on 12 January 2018, but our group & children had great fun hiking & picnicking in the dry lake bed.
    The road to the lake has become a dumping ground for construction waste alongside the road, but the area around the lake remains relatively clean & private.
    Thank you again for your wonderful blog & guidebook.ReplyCancel

    • LauraJanuary 15, 2018 - 12:21 am

      Thank you so much William, for purchasing the Secret Lake ebook and providing us with this detailed update! Yes this year has been a very dry year unfortunately it has not formed a lake but the place is beautiful as you mentioned. Let’s hope for more rains soon and you could visit again to see it with water too :)

      Best regards


  • RiaNovember 13, 2018 - 12:02 pm


    I hope you are doing great. I and my husband both are fan of your blog. Love reading it before planning any trip :).

    We really want to go and visit this place and couldn’t find ebook guide. Page not found. Can you please share the location of this secret lake? I would really appreciate it. Thank youReplyCancel

    • LauraNovember 13, 2018 - 12:06 pm

      I’ve taken the guidebook offline because the place got destroyed by too many people visiting, hiking groups started going there and trash was everywhere. when I was there last March someone even burned down the forest. So I don’t want to encourage anyone to go there the place needs to recover.ReplyCancel

      • OliviaDecember 9, 2020 - 2:17 pm

        Hi! I’ve been looking for places to visit in Riyadh and I just came across your blog. Have you visited the lake recently? I would love to visit this place.ReplyCancel

        • LauraAugust 2, 2021 - 6:56 pm

          It was ruined with rubbish after too many people and hiking roups started going there. Also this year not enough rain.ReplyCancel

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