Landscapes in Middle East
Jabal Sawda was claimed to be 3,133 metres, making it the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, but a GPS survey measured it 2,999 m, a few meters lower than Jabal Ferwa, Saudi Arabia's highest peak. Nevertheless, the views from the various viewpoints are amazing. During the hot summer months, the cool breeze on the mountain ridge attracts families on picnics and dating couples. But during the cold winter, you can have the walking trails and benches to yourself.
The mountain roads between Abha and Al Bahah are spectacular. They twist and turn over the barren mountain sides and pass through dark tunnels. The rest stops offer one amazing view after another. Unfortunately the roads are there for a reason, so the traffic is mostly heavy trucks and impatient SUVs that try to overtake.
On the way to the Grand Canyon of Saudi Arabia, Al Shaq, stands this 5-meter tall mushroom rock. It's located a bit hidden in the wadi about 100 meters from where the canyon starts as a crack.
About 30 km outside Abha, at the top of the Sawda mountain range, the road to Rijal Alma suddenly starts to descend. From then on, it's hairpin turn after hairpin turn. The road is so steep and twisting that trucks are not permitted. Several signs instruct to use the low gear, to spare the brakes. Along the road - and particularly at the few viewpoints - baboons are on the lookout for anything eatable.
Some might expect Saudi Arabia to be covered in big sand dunes, but the Saudi landscape is surprisingly diverse with mountains, rocky outcrops and oases. Even the desert seems to be made up of mostly stones and rocks instead of sand. So where can you see some proper sand dunes? One place is the Nefud desert (Al Nefud Al Kebir), which the road from Hail to Jubbah (where the UNESCO enlisted petroglyphs are) pass through. Here the sand dunes roll all the way up to the road and you have splendid panoramic views from the car. On weekends there are several places, which hire ATVs out.