Al Wahbah Crater: Things to do and see while exploring the crater




The Al Wahbah (Al Waba) crater in the Taif Region is one of the most amazing natural wonders in Saudi Arabia. Also known as Makla Tamyah, this is a crater with a distinct white floor which is actually composed of sodium phosphate crystals.

How does these crystals look up close? There's only one way to find out! This is a two-part series, starting from the mouth of the crater, and the descent and the floor. (Memories and details are just too much to be in one post.) 





    A second visit

    Back in 2017, whilst still assigned and living in Yanbu, I tagged along my colleague and friend's friends to visit the Al Wahbah Crater. It was a very quick visit and I took very few photos.

    Read here about my first time in Al Wahbah Crater: 
    Al Wahbah Crater (Makla Tamyah), Harrat Kishb, Taif, Saudi Arabia

    With the project in Yanbu over, I thought I would have no chance to be in the western part of the Kingdom anymore, let alone anywhere close to the crater, to know how it feels like to be inside the crater.

    But 2 years after, I found myself really grateful to be assigned in the Madinah Region for a new project. For a short time, I stayed in a the very small town of Mahad al Dhahab which is just an hour away from the crater site!

    In short, I got to visit the crater once again, and this time, went down into the actual crater!

    It so happened that colleague-friend Jelmar, who I was with during the 2017 trip (and who's also into exploring places), was assigned in Mahad as well. Obviously, I didn't need to beg him to make this trip happen.


    Going all the way

    So with very little planning, we decided we'd travel the coming weekend. I had with me my old Canon 60d camera and I was expecting to take tons of pictures this time.

    And so we traveled, three of us, me, Kuya Ading and Jelmar, with not much thought of what exactly to do once we were there (the idea of descending was there but we were not 100% sure). 

    But, how often can one have, in his lifetime, a memory of setting foot on a volcanic crater? 


    What to bring

    Our outfits weren't exactly for hiking, but we just couldn't let this opportunity pass. Kuya Ading was wearing crocs looking shoes, and Jelmar was in his work safety shoes! 

    Jelmar and I both had backpacks stuffed with cameras and paraphernalia.

    Kuya Ading had a plastic bag with drinks and snacks. He literally looked like he came from the market and went straight into a hike.

    This was early in March and the weather was still favorable. Wearing a sweater or jacket was good if you're only exploring around the crater but you'll get warm and hot once you started going down.

    Pack lightly with proper bags, wear light clothes and appropriate shoes. A long-sleeved shirt is a good idea to protect your arms from the sun, and a visor or hat for your face. As always, I didn't care about my arms nor my face and would rather get burned than soak in sweat.


    What to do when in the Al Wahbah Crater

    We first explored the area closest to the main parking and met fellow visitors who asked for some portraits (pictures below). Unlike the first trip, it was only the three of us: no mothers, no fathers, no kids, and really, we just enjoyed and took our time. So much so that they had plenty of time to play with rocks.

    Picnic

    There are picnic 'houses' scattered in the area but were not well-maintained during our visits. 

    Sightseeing

    The first reason you're there is to look at the crater. There are viewing decks built around the rim of the crater but visitors are allowed to walk past the1-meter stone wall surrounding the whole crater. Just be sure to proceed with caution as there is no fencing beyond that.

    Going down into the crater

    This is of course must be done with extreme caution and not advisable for kids or if you have fear of heights.

    Other optional activities include but 'not limited' to 'unlimited' photo opportunity, rock stacking, and flora hunting. Yes, there's such a thing as rock stacking and I invented flora hunting. Feel free to hunt for whatever you want.


    Photos from the Al Wahbah Crater

    I took a lot of photographs from that day, as expected, and choosing which ones to include in this post took me hours. 

    But here they come.

    The group of Arabs who I spotted (and saw me, too), posed for the camera. One of them asked for some solo shots. I believe I transferred the photos thru Instagram:











    Now our turn:






    The vista:












    Rock stacking:








    And nature observing for me:














    Flowering plants were abundant at that time and I might have taken too much. "In my defense", with nothing else but rocks, you have to find some foreground to balance your photos or you'll end up with flat and boring images.

    Anyway, the real exciting thing is yet to come! We're now going down to the floor of the crater and see what these white crystals look like up close!

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