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Early this year I tagged along to a group of travelers to see the Al Wahbah Crater in Taif. Despite the long travel (5 hours from Yanbu), I thought it was an opportunity to see a new place in the kingdom that I probably won't ever see again.

Update: In March 2019, I was deployed near the area and, together with my friends from work, went down to the crater!

    There's more to Saudi than sand dunes and rocky mountains

    But as you get to explore more of Saudi Arabia, you'll learn that it's not just sandy and rocky desert, canyons, awesome rock formations, or rocky mountains.

    I myself was surprised to learn that there are parts of the Arabian Peninsula that hold traces of ancient volcanoes, evident by craters and lava fields.

    Apparently, there are many craters and volcanic lava fields in the kingdom particularly on the western side of the peninsula.

    These lava fields appear as darker patches on satellite imagery, in contrast to the light to dark brown desert and mountains.

    For quite a while I used to imagine (since it isn't that far from Yanbu where I lived for some time) what it would be like to be there and to actually stand on a lava field. But it's probably not a good idea and probably not open to the common people.

    The Al Wa'abah Crater (Makla Tamyah)

    Finding it was not hard since desert highways in Saudi Arabia can be quite simple to navigate. You just need to know the location on the map and you'll get there. 

    Al Wahbah Crater is located in the Makkah Region and is about 500 kilometers from Yanbu where we came from.

    Al Waba (Makla Tamyah)

    The Crater

    We had a short stop over after about three (3) hours straight drive, gassed up, had coffee and bread, and then took off, ready for 2 more hours of road trip.

    As seen in the satellite imagery below (pinch to zoom), the Al Wahbah Crater is on the edge of another lava field called the Harrat Kishb (Kashab).

    The height, rather, the depth of the crater is 250 meters! It was initially thought to be a meteor site.

    The crater has a diameter of about 2 kilometers and is 250-meter deep!

    Sodium Phosphate Crystals

    The most noticeable feature of this crater is the white deposit at the bottom which accordingly is sodium phosphate crystals.

    Another (unwanted) feature of the crater (at that time) were the huge writings on the salt deposit.

    Run, Beethoven, run!!!

    I brought this rock back to Yanbu but wasn't able to bring with me when we moved back to Khobar. I thought it resembled a dragonglass... except it isn't shiny. (Just google "dragonglass game of thrones"... okay you don't care.)

    Also found a Nikon eyecup. Brought it back with me, too... ended up throwing it anyway.

    Made in the Philippines!

    Around the Crater

    A stone wall, seemed to be quite new when we visited in April 2017, are built on the rim of the crater.

    There are new structures in the area including a mosque and some shaded viewing areas.

    We had about one hour to look around and take photos. I was looking to walk around the rim (along the wall) at least to see it from a different angle but it was time for lunch.

    Scattered some hundreds of meters from the craters are the older (picnic) shelters.

    There are a few of them (only around 10) and they are spaced quite far from each other (probably for privacy).

    They've been neglected and vandalized, but are still usable for picnics.

    Picnic Time

    It's good to bring plenty of mats as the shelters don't have concrete seats or tables (which is typical to any picnic shelters in the kingdom).

    I did not bring/contribute any food (as the trip was sudden), but I volunteered to take their group photos. That's the least that I could do and also to thank them in this post. Thank you for allowing me to join the group. The perks of having a friend who is friends with travel junkies.

    After eating, we packed up and left the place. It wasn't an ideal time anyway to linger because of the heat. Like in most cases, winter is the best time to visit the place, from November to February.

    Another item checked off a non-existent bucket list.

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