Oct 18, 2022
For many people, the desert is nothing but hot sand and tons of it. A desert trip in Riyadh is all it takes to see this fascinating landscape in a whole new light, as you’ll discover craggy cliffs, panoramic views, vibrant heritage villages, incredible wildlife, and much more. Use our guide to Riyadh desert tours to plan and prepare for the ultimate Saudi Arabian holiday experience. Find out more about:
You’ll find an exciting variety of desert trips in Riyadh. Some are early morning safaris that are all about watching the sun rise from a majestic location, while others focus on sites of natural beauty. You’ll also find desert safaris in Riyadh that offer a closer look at local wildlife or culture and heritage experiences, such as belly dancing or traditional meals in historic villages. Some of the sites you could see or stops you could enjoy include:
Al Qasab Salt Flats: Located 150km north of Riyadh, the ancient city of Al Qasab is where you’ll find salt flats that look as though the desert has been covered with a blanket of snow. It’s très instagrammable!
Red Sands in the Hidden Valley: Located 80km from the Saudi capital, the Red Sands dunes in the Hidden Valley at the Tuwaiq Mountains is one of the best spots for quad bike Riyadh desert tours. The adrenaline rush that comes with scaling these dunes will satisfy even the most ardent thrill-seekers. Tours usually leave Riyadh around 5am, but it's well worth the early start!
Nofa Wildlife Park: Located 98km from Riyadh, Nofa Wildlife Park is ideal for animal-lovers. The spacious plains are home to a variety of fauna, such as elephants, giraffes, impala, pygmy hippopotamus, and Grévy’s zebras. There’s also a wildlife centre with a stunning collection of native and exotic birds and reptiles. Nofa Wildlife Park desert trips in Riyadh usually leave the city between 8am and 1pm.
Heet Cave: Located just over 50km from Riyadh, Heet Cave in Mount Al Jubayl doesn’t look like much from the outside. However, once you’ve carefully made your way down into the cave, you’ll be rewarded with the incredible sight of a crystal-clear lake that’s approximately 150m long – and, yes, you can swim, snorkel, or even scuba dive in its refreshing water. Tours usually depart from Riyadh at 8am.
The Edge of the World: Located 90km from Riyadh, the Edge of the World (AKA Jebel Fihrayn) is the edge of towering cliffs that seem to suddenly rise out of the desert. The uninterrupted views that stretch to the horizon in the far distance must be seen to be believed. Tours usually leave Riyadh around 2.30pm.
Ushaiger Heritage Village: Located 197km from Riyadh, the Ushaiger Heritage Village seems to have been bypassed by modern life. The locals who live there are the direct descendants of the Bedouin who settled in the area 1,500 years ago. Riyadh desert tours to the village usually depart from the city at 8am.
Activity stops: Some Riyadh desert tours include stops for you to enjoy various activities. Among them are dune bashing (a form of off-roading in a 4x4 on sand dunes), sandboarding, coffee at sunset or under the stars, and traditional belly dancing (except during the fasting month of Ramadan).
Saudi Arabia is home to a surprising number of animals, some of which you might see on a desert safari in Riyadh. Among those animals are:
Sand cat: The only species of cat that lives only in the desert. They have thick fur on their paws to protect them from heat and cold, and to stop them from leaving tracks or sinking into sand when they pounce on their prey.
Arabian oryx: One of the largest mammals in Saudi Arabia, the Arabian oryx was almost hunted to extinction. Successful conservation efforts have boosted the population, and these magnificent creatures have been reintroduced into the wild in some parts of the country.
Caracal: These fierce wild cats have distinctive long black tufts of fur on their ears. Caracals are found in the western part of the country.
Arabian wolf: Preferring to hunt alone or in pairs, Arabian wolves are found in the desert mountain regions of Najd and Tabuk.
Arabian leopard: Critically endangered, fierce Arabian leopards can still be seen in the Asir Mountains in the southwest of the country.
Dromedary camel: Also known as the Arabian camel, dromedary camels are one of the country’s largest mammals. They have a single hump, unlike Bactrian camels, which have two humps.
Other animals: A few other animals you might see on Riyadh desert tours include Indian saw-scaled vipers, Arabian fat-tailed scorpions, eagles, ostriches, quails, and hamadryas baboons.
Autumn, especially the months of October and November, undoubtedly is one of the best times of year to visit Saudi Arabia for desert trips in Riyadh. In October, the average maximum temperature is a hot 34.5 °C/94 °F, while the average minimum is a more comfortable 19 °C/66 °F. November is even better, with an average maximum temperature of 27 °C/81 °F, and an average minimum temperature of 14 °C/57 °F. Of course, you can expect plenty of sunshine.
Men should pack loose, lightweight shirts and flowing trousers made of cotton or linen. Short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts are fine for everyday informal wear, although loose, long sleeves are the better option. If it’s not too hot, consider packing a pair of loose-fit jeans for when you go quad biking. Women should pack loose outfits or dresses that cover the shoulders, chest, and legs. Women can wear jeans, although only if they have a top that’s long enough to cover their bottoms. Consider wearing a lightweight abaya when in public.
Hats are a must for men and women, as are sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. When selecting clothing for your trip, choose lighter colours rather than bright ones that could attract negative, unwelcome attention. Clothing also should not have any images or slogans that might cause offence in this highly conservative country. When it comes to footwear, choose sandals and trainers, and formal shoes if you’re planning on dining at good restaurants. Remember to pack a light jacket or cardigan, as it can get chilly at night.
It's important to be culturally sensitive when visiting Riyadh and when you stay at Fraser Suites Riyadh, our team members will be more than happy to help you with settling in.
There are numerous things you shouldn’t bring or do on a tour in Saudi Arabia. Don’t bring:
When in Saudi Arabia, avoid:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has much to offer the traveller who’s looking for a holiday experience unlike any other, whether you’re travelling with your family or looking for an extended stay. Desert trips in Riyadh are a wonderful way to see the natural beauty and incredible wildlife of this unique country.
Make sure you have a comfortable base to call your home from home while in the kingdom. Choose Fraser Suites Riyadh. Our hotel offers spacious serviced apartments with well-appointed living, dining, and sleeping areas, fully equipped kitchenettes, and tea and coffee facilities. Our hotel also has a restaurant on the 6th floor terrace, a fully equipped gym (men and women), a swimming pool, steam room, and sauna facilities (men only), and a Treat Suite that offers massages. There’s also a laundrette on every floor of the hotel. Fraser Suites Riyadh is the perfect place to stay in the Saudi capital.