En route to Madinah: Volcanoes, Camels and the lifesaver


The sand on either side disappeared, to be replaced by black rocks and hills.

Below, you will see some of the images on our way to Madinah. We flew from Riyadh to Jeddah, where we arrived at 6am. Then we drove to Madinah. However, before we arrived to Madinah, we took a little detour.


Just black hills on the left…

If you have travelled from Jeddah to Madinah by road, you will know that the views are the standard desert views. When we took this detour, the road turned from sun in the sky and sandy to grey clouds and black rocks everywhere. This was the first time I had ever experienced this landscape anywhere in the world. To be quite honest, I was petrified as there were no cars, people, buildings or animals for most of the 3 hours we drove this way. Add to that, we had no mobile phone reception or 3G on our iPads! Thankfully, we had a car full of petrol! There were only black rocks on either side, and what’s terrifying is that these tended to get bigger and bigger. At one point, they were bigger than our car!


…and black hills on the right.


Even the sun disappeared to be replaced by dark grey clouds.

Now what are these rocks and how did they get there? Well, this is a question that we pondered, only after we had left this landscape of course. At first we thought that maybe a company had brought this land, and was using it as storage for its building materials. However, it didn’t make sense. All this land as storage just seemed like a waste. After one of my friends, Abdullah, had woken up from his nap, he too was astonished to see black rock everywhere. After much talking, we discovered that this is actually basalt, a volcanic rock.


Look at the size of these boulders! They get bigger the further you drive in!

Volcanoes, you might ask? Your next response might be “There are no volcanoes in Saudi Arabia.” Oh, but there are volcanoes! Most people have very little geographic knowledge of their own country, so geography of a foreign country is out of the norm. People assume that Saudi Arabia just floats there, in between West Asia and Europe. We forget that the landmass that is Saudi Arabia was once part of the continent of Africa. As it split from Africa, the Red sea was created and there are thousands of volcanoes in western Saudi Arabia, including in the Madinah region.

Now, please don’t worry too much about these volcanoes erupting if you live in the western region. The last eruption was over 100 years ago, and most of these volcanoes are now dormant. I will write a more detailed post about volcanoes in Saudi Arabia later, if you’re interested.


Finally, a building! This was the first building we saw after 2.5 hours on the road. Unfortunately, there was no one around to ask for directions. (We were a little lost.)


We saw a herd of wild camels, just peacefully walking around and grazing on the desert shrubs. Unfortunately, they were no help as we were still lost lol.


Then we came across this man building a house, alone, and in the middle of nowhere again. He was lifesaver, as he gave us somewhat correct directions to our destination.


It’s odd to see grass in the desert in Riyadh, but it is even stranger to see grass over volcanic rock.


It looked like we were heading the right way….


The sky cleared, the green became brighter…looks like we’re nearly there.


At one point, even the road disappeared.Aside from this place, I have to say the roads in Saudi Arabia are amazing. Despite being hundreds of km away from the nearest main road, the roads were smooth, free of potholes and were not cracked. Roads in the US/UK were not half as good.


Ahhh looks like we’ve arrived safely. 🙂

I am amazed at how varied the landscapes in Saudi Arabia are. You expect Saudi to be just sand, but there is more to it than that. Also, I never realized how big Saudi Arabia is. We drove for over 3 hours to get to our next stop, but we didn’t even cover 1/6 of the landmass of Saudi Arabia.


4 responses to “En route to Madinah: Volcanoes, Camels and the lifesaver

    • Hello Hajar,

      This is exactly what my aunt told me. :))

      Everyday you discover something new and look at the world just a little differently. 🙂

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