ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Al Wahba Crater, Saudi Arabia's "Lake of Salt"

Updated on March 5, 2019
Millionaire I am profile image

Marjun is a Microbiologist by training and loves to travel, write, read and speak. He has been in Saudi Arabia for 24 years.

Al Wahba with Camera360 gives you the feel that you're from a different world.
Al Wahba with Camera360 gives you the feel that you're from a different world. | Source
The fairy has come alive at the Al Wahba crater
The fairy has come alive at the Al Wahba crater | Source

How was it formed?

Once upon a time, there lived two mountains who loved each other passionately that one was willing to have itself uprooted to unite with the other. The intense love affair left a deep circular chasm in its place that has come to be known as Maqla Tamia or Al Wahba Crater.

That is according to Saudi folklore. Interesting, isn’t it?

Long believed to have been caused by a meteorite as it resembles the Barringer Crater in the United States, geologists acknowledge that the massive caldera is actually a maar crater. According to Wikipedia, maar crater is formed by a volcanic activity in the form of an underground phreatic eruption – a massive steam explosion generated by molten basaltic magma coming into contact with subterranean water.

Where it is located?

Al-Wahba Caldera is located at the Western edge of Harrat Kishb basalt plateau, 250 kilometers away from the city of Taif. It is about a 4-hour drive from the port city of Jeddah, in Makkah Province.

The long and winding descent down the Al Wahba crater.
The long and winding descent down the Al Wahba crater. | Source

Facts about the crater

The spectacular crater, the largest of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula, is 250 meters (820 ft) deep and 2 kilometers (1.2mi) in diameter.

The colossal walls of the Al Wahba Caldera is lava-filled and is very steep around its entire circumference. It is heaven for rock climbers but definitely not for unprepared hikers.

The bottom of the beautiful crater is wonderfully overlaid with white crystals of sodium phosphate, a feature that is uniquely different from the known craters in the world. At first glance, one would think it is a skating rink in the middle of a gigantic open-air stadium, or a lake, miraculously frozen in the vast, parched land. I actually call it a “Lake of Salt.” Mineral-rich, perennial but substantial rain water from the vast basaltic plateau finds its way down the crater and evaporates during the long summer months leaving a salt residue. Its pearly white hue visibly shimmers even under a starry, starry night, like a glistening jewel in the dark, as we have seen upon arrival. The magnificent abyss glowed even more at daytime. It felt like we were in another planet.

Our camping site at Al Wahba Crater
Our camping site at Al Wahba Crater | Source
Camping at the Al Wahba Crater is simply amazing.
Camping at the Al Wahba Crater is simply amazing. | Source

The trip

We arrived shortly before midnight and camped beside a newly-constructed gazebo, one of the six gazebos that were recently erected in the promising tourist spot. It is a priority project of the government in an attempt to improve tourist facilities, attract more visitors and, consequently, generate income.

The night was cold and crisp and what better way to keep warm then to lit a bonfire! Strumming his guitar, one of my friends led a medley of songs thanking and worshiping the Creator. I lied on a mat and enjoyed star-gazing - a moment I have been longing for in many years. Like a child that I was, I would shout every time I see a shooting star. Funny at my age of 47 but definitely one of the most unforgettable travel experiences I’ve had. The tranquility of the cold, starry night was disrupted by the occasional rhythmic barking of the wild dogs that is not uncommon in the area. (Do not be afraid, though. They are harmless, so long as you won’t provoke them.)

The toilet facilities were closed so we had to be “innovative” during the so-called “call of nature.” It added to the thrill, though. Hahaha. In the early morning, we had a chat with the facility care-taker and generously allowed us to use his toilet. A great relief!

We had the time of our life at the camp site, praising God in the silence of the night. Truly unforgettable.
We had the time of our life at the camp site, praising God in the silence of the night. Truly unforgettable. | Source

The joyful descent

We descended to the bottom of the crater late in the morning, which was not a good idea. Early morning must be better. We followed the trail but it wasn’t easy. At some point the trail was slippery due to tiny crushed rocks on the trail itself. Decent shoes is recommended. Everyone was in high spirits, enthusiastic on the goal ahead – to stand in the middle of the beautiful, one-of-a kind crater and, of course, taking instagrammable photos! I was the second to the last to reach the bottom of the crater as I immersed myself with the wonderful flora growing on the basaltic rock. It was springtime, a timely visit to see the wild flowers in bloom. As a biologist, it is always a joy to see different species of plants. It took us about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the bottom, as most bloggers and vloggers testify.

We wondered and wandered in the immense Lake of Salt. I, myself, touched it and tasted it as I desired to do, long before the visit. Like everyone else, I took photos and recorded videos of this dazzling natural masterpiece. It was awesome.

The footprints in the salt!
The footprints in the salt! | Source
Touching, tasting the salt at Al Wahba Crater
Touching, tasting the salt at Al Wahba Crater | Source
Jumpshot at Al Wahba crater is a must!
Jumpshot at Al Wahba crater is a must! | Source

The sorrowful ascent

After all the narcissistic selfies, wacky groufies and exhilarating jump-shots, we needed to leave. It was already a quarter past 11am. It was hot but the breeze was cool. Like those who have hiked before us, climbing up was truly challenging. I strongly advise to never attempt to go down the crater if you did not pre-condition your body. You must have enough stamina and endurance, especially for not-so-young folks like me. I nearly passed out during our ascent due to sudden feebleness and blurry vision. Worst, my legs cramped halfway through the trek. I was blessed to have my buddies, Rix and Rodel, assisting me. Likewise, Bernard, a Kenyan colleague of mine, who quickly climbed up way ahead of everybody in an incredible speed and agility, descended again to where I was, bringing a banana, a chocolate bar and a canned juice for me to recharge.

The awful scaling took us more than two hours to reach the top of the plateau.

I thank God, I survived.

Other-worldy shot with Camera360 at the Al Wahba crater.
Other-worldy shot with Camera360 at the Al Wahba crater. | Source

What to bring

Water, even plenty of water, is not enough. You must bring sugared beverages and foods like biscuits and chocolates to keep you going and to combat hypoglycemia, just in case. I also recommend to bring first-aid kit. Also, wear a suitable clothing, a head gear and a backpack to free your hands while trekking the crater.

All's well that ends well

Seeing this wondrous, “other-worldly” creation was fulfilling, in spite of my not-so-good experience hiking up. We returned to Jeddah enriched with priceless memories, including munching on a hot, luscious Kabsa, Saudi Arabia’s national food, in a remote restaurant along the way, to boost our much-need energy.

Follow me on millionaireiam@hubpages.com

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      15 months ago

      Thank you. It's good to know the information is all current.

    • Millionaire I am profile imageAUTHOR

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      15 months ago from Saudi Arabia

      You are absolutely right, Robert. We visited the place last February 1-2, 2019. December to April are the best months to visit the place because the weather is good; otherwise, no way you can bear the heat in summer months.

      Thanks, though.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      15 months ago

      Nice pictures. Most likely even this great picture of the crater from the high ground doesn't do justice to seeing it in person, yes? When did you last visit Marjun Angolluan Canceran?

    • Millionaire I am profile imageAUTHOR

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      15 months ago from Saudi Arabia

      Thank you, Liz.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      15 months ago from UK

      This is a fascinating account of your trip with great illustrations.

    • Millionaire I am profile imageAUTHOR

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      15 months ago from Saudi Arabia

      Thank you, Eman, Please come and visit. I have been to Egypt twice and because I touched the Nile, I shall return :)

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      15 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you for this interesting and detailed article. The lake of salt is really very interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)