Our Round-the-World adventure

tacototheworld

Well-known member
@tacototheworld

I am just now accidentally stumbling upon this thread while doing other research for something completely unrelated. It has taken a while, but I am reading through every page and every post. Thank you so much for posting up pictures and descriptions about your travels. I have only gotten so far into the thread where you guys just got finished in Albania, and it appears I have a lot more reading to do to catch up to where you are now. Much appreciation for this, you are doing exactly what I would love to do someday.

Please also keep in mind that there are likely many who read these type of posts without commenting themselves. That is typically also me, although this time I had to at least comment and say thank you. Your words are not falling on deaf ears, or being lost to the ether. Thank you for taking the time to post here.

Thank you for the super kind words. At times I wonder how large of an audience we're reaching out to. Some of what we do is just to remind ourselves where we have been, haha.
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
Amazing journal. Would you mind sharing average monthly or yearly cost on each continent? With so many different countries explored over such a long duration it would provide a good idea to people with similar aspirations.

Trip Costs

Sure thing! So far we are 3 1/2 years into our five year driving around the world adventure where we have put on 125,000 miles so far.

We spent our first year and a half on the road traveling the US and Baja, Mexico (our eventual goal is to visit every US national park, right now we are at about 45 out of 63) It started out as a way to kill time as the global pandemic had sidetracked our plans a little. Turns out the truck was the perfect isolation vehicle and visiting lesser known national parks was great fun. We also got to work out all the kinks of life on the road, getting our systems organized, in a country where we spoke the language and knew how to find things. As soon as the post COVID world opened up in 2021, we drove across the US and put the truck on a ship to Liverpool, England.

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Our 32,000 mile, 370 day route around Europe

We spent over a year traveling Europe. We decided to add in a month in Iceland which was not on our original route and we are so glad we did! it was a travel highlight for us). We had visited Italy Spain and Switzerland fairly recently so mostly skipped them this time round.

Daily costs for the two of us in Europe averaged $101 a day with gas being the highest expense at $46 per day followed by groceries at $19. We could save by buying cheaper groceries but at this point in our lives we do like our luxuries (beer, wine, chocolate, meat) so we eat well. The next biggest budget items were restaurants at $9 a day average (which really meant one meal out every few days or visiting a bakery, our favorite European treat) and hotels at $4 a day - which really means a big city hotel a couple times a month. This line item is also supplemented by using the points from our Chase Sapphire Visa card to book hotels at no cost.

Other costs:
Camping - 5
Other - 9

Please realize this is for two people driving in a Toyota Tacoma that averages 14 or 15 miles per gallon and we travel about 100-150 miles a day. We tend to drive a lot, our restlessness combined with a constant eagerness to see the next thing means we usually move on daily (although we try to drive less than 2-3 hours a day).
We also mostly cook our own meals.

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Our final Africa route 31,000 miles in 377 days

In December 2022, we ferried from Spain to Morocco and began our year in Africa. The main change in our planned-to Africa route was due to the war in Sudan. Knowing that we could not travel north through Sudan as planned, we decided to ship from Kenya to Oman. Unfortunately this meant we would not be driving through Ethiopia and Egypt, two countries we had really been looking forward to. But they are also two countries that are extremely difficult to bring your own vehicle into so we saved ourselves significant bureaucratic hassles and expense by avoiding them. It also allowed us to add in the Arabian Peninsula which we were excited to explore.

In Africa the average cost for the two of us was $117 a day. Once again, gas was the biggest line item although the cost was much less than Europe, at $26 per day. The biggest surprise for us was the second largest budget item - an average of $22 a day for travel documents for 30 different countries. This includes visas for the two of us, and vehicle permitting (we don’t use a Carnet de Passage).

Other costs:
Groceries - $16
Hotels - 10
Camping - 10
Restaurant - 6
Other - 5


Hopefully this is informative
 
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tacototheworld

Well-known member

Qatar​


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Al Zubara fort, Qatar

Qatar and Bahrain are similar in that they are both two small Arabian Gulf countries with economies based on oil and gas. For both of them, their main connection to the rest of Arabia is through Saudi Arabia. Qatar is a small peninsula land locked by Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is an archipelago of islands off the coast with the main island connected by a bridge to Saudi Arabia. But despite their similarities they still each have unique personalities.

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Our route through Qatar and Bahrain, accessing each through Saudi Arabia

Qatar​

Qatar’s capital city and cultural and financial hub is Doha, home to 80% of the nation’s 2.7 million people. The city was great to explore. Similar to other Arabian Peninsula cities it was clean, well laid out, easy to navigate by car yet also very walkable.

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Traditional boats (now used more for tourist sightseeing than fishing) in front of the modern Doha skyline

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Waterfront sculpture of a oyster with a pearl

The oil and gas boom of the 1960’s led to economic prosperity for the Qataris. The Qatari citizens make up only about 11% of the total population while the remaining 2.3 million people are immigrants living on work visas.
The tiny gas rich emirate has focused on economic independence and investment in infrastructure. Tourists are welcomed and appreciated. Alcohol is not illegal as it is in nearby Saudi Arabia, but is only available at licensed restaurants and bars for a premium price. (Beers run $6-$8, a cheap brand glass of wine $8-$10, we opted to go dry while we were there.) The country is run by a monarchy and the current Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the 8th Emir to rule from the same royal family. The country’s leadership has taken a strong role in peace keeping between the Middle East and the West and the largest US military base in the Middle East is in Qatar. The country felt friendly, safe and prosperous.

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View of the skyline of Doha, Qatar

We were still adjusting to the absolute safety we were experiencing on the Arabian Peninsula. We were able to let go of the idea that the truck had to be in “secure” parking if we left it. Walking after dark was not only safe but the cultural norm - children and families were out walking way into the night. The trade off to the strong authoritarian governments which removed some personal freedom was a strict adherence to rules, and crime was almost non existent. There were no pick pockets and no people asking for money. We were switching currencies frequently and shop keepers would politely correct us when we accidentally tried to overpay. The vast majority of the country’s people are working immigrants who need their jobs and know that any transgression would result in being sent home so they obey the rules. We did have some heightened awareness of the possibility of terrorist attacks, especially as US citizens, but we never felt threatened. Everywhere we went people seemed glad that we were visiting. There was a police and military presence throughout the peninsula, but check points were very brief and not frequent.

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Museum of Islamic Art on the waterfront in Qatar

In addition to the massive rebuild of the modern city of Doha, Qatar has invested in cultural infrastructure and art.
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Large golden thumb sculpture in Souq Waqif, representing a national soccer victory in 2019

Despite a modern architectural feel, the country retains its traditional Muslim roots with Islam as the primary religion. Most of the Qataris are traditionally dressed and the call to prayer sounds five times a day. Souq Waqif in the downtown area blends elements of the traditional souq with contemporary cafes and restaurants and is a pleasant place to walk and people watch.

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Visiting the falcon souq - where birds are trained for the traditional art of hunting in addition to being bought and sold and cared for in a dedicated hospital

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Our favorite shop in Souq Waqif - amazing baclava

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Pedestrian traffic in the souq

Wild camping was a little more difficult in Qatar, it did not have the same huge empty landscapes as its neighboring countries. Much of the sandy peninsula was fenced off for the oil and gas industry. We spent one challenging night camped in a beach parking lot, not realizing how close we were to the minaret speakers for the nearby mosque. The 4:30am call to prayer vibrating the canvas sides of our pop up camper was a bit of a shock.

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Beach camping spot close to a mosque

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We appreciated the regional focus and re-shaping of this old family favorite

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Visit to Al Zubara fort

Al Zubara fort, Qatar’s Unesco site was a beautifully restored shell. But our favorite part of the visit was learning about the pearl diving industry and seeing the ruins of the nearby ancient village. Exhibits and the on site tour guide brought to life the reality of the divers jumping into the water with heavy weights to plummet them to the bottom, baskets around their necks, retrieving thousands of oysters a day with likely only one pearl to be found per 5,000. It was a difficult life but the mainstay of the local economy until the 1960’s when gas was found.

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Spiral stair case inside the fort

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Remains of ancient fishing village, slowly being restored

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Maintenance time - Andy changing the oil

And then our last night in Qater, we found a remote desert spot by the coast - our favorite.

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The sun goes down on our time in Qatar
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Trip Costs

Sure thing! So far we are 3 1/2 years into our five year driving around the world adventure where we have put on 125,000 miles so far.

We spent our first year and a half on the road traveling the US and Baja, Mexico (our eventual goal is to visit every US national park, right now we are at about 45 out of 63) It started out as a way to kill time as the global pandemic had sidetracked our plans a little. Turns out the truck was the perfect isolation vehicle and visiting lesser known national parks was great fun. We also got to work out all the kinks of life on the road, getting our systems organized, in a country where we spoke the language and knew how to find things. As soon as the post COVID world opened up in 2021, we drove across the US and put the truck on a ship to Liverpool, England.

Europe+route+3.png

Our 32,000 mile, 370 day route around Europe

We spent over a year traveling Europe. We decided to add in a month in Iceland which was not on our original route and we are so glad we did! it was a travel highlight for us). We had visited Italy Spain and Switzerland fairly recently so mostly skipped them this time round.

Daily costs for the two of us in Europe averaged $101 a day with gas being the highest expense at $46 per day followed by groceries at $19. We could save by buying cheaper groceries but at this point in our lives we do like our luxuries (beer, wine, chocolate, meat) so we eat well. The next biggest budget items were restaurants at $9 a day average (which really meant one meal out every few days or visiting a bakery, our favorite European treat) and hotels at $4 a day - which really means a big city hotel a couple times a month. This line item is also supplemented by using the points from our Chase Sapphire Visa card to book hotels at no cost.

Other costs:
Camping - 5
Other - 9

Please realize this is for two people driving in a Toyota Tacoma that averages 14 or 15 miles per gallon and we travel about 100-150 miles a day. We tend to drive a lot, our restlessness combined with a constant eagerness to see the next thing means we usually move on daily (although we try to drive less than 2-3 hours a day).
We also mostly cook our own meals.

Africa+route.png

Our final Africa route 31,000 miles in 377 days

In December 2022, we ferried from Spain to Morocco and began our year in Africa. The main change in our planned-to Africa route was due to the war in Sudan. Knowing that we could not travel north through Sudan as planned, we decided to ship from Kenya to Oman. Unfortunately this meant we would not be driving through Ethiopia and Egypt, two countries we had really been looking forward to. But they are also two countries that are extremely difficult to bring your own vehicle into so we saved ourselves significant bureaucratic hassles and expense by avoiding them. It also allowed us to add in the Arabian Peninsula which we were excited to explore.

In Africa the average cost for the two of us was $117 a day. Once again, gas was the biggest line item although the cost was much less than Europe, at $26 per day. The biggest surprise for us was the second largest budget item - an average of $22 a day for travel documents for 30 different countries. This includes visas for the two of us, and vehicle permitting (we don’t use a Carnet de Passage).

Other costs:
Groceries - $16
Hotels - 10
Camping - 10
Restaurant - 6
Other - 5


Hopefully this is informative

Very informative. A bit cheaper than I would have thought. I also would have guessed Africa to be cheaper than Europe. I guess the bureaucratic policies are very costly.

thanks for sharing
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
Very informative. A bit cheaper than I would have thought. I also would have guessed Africa to be cheaper than Europe. I guess the bureaucratic policies are very costly.

thanks for sharing
We also thought Africa was going to be cheaper. But what was interesting is West Africa and East/Southern Africa were roughly the same cost. West Africa had much higher visa costs whle South/E. Africa had much higher national park/camping fees. Visiting almost any African national park is very expensive. National park campgrounds are typically $50 a day and daily entry fees can be even higher.
 

jaywo

Member
Trip Costs

Sure thing! So far we are 3 1/2 years into our five year driving around the world adventure where we have put on 125,000 miles so far.

We spent our first year and a half on the road traveling the US and Baja, Mexico (our eventual goal is to visit every US national park, right now we are at about 45 out of 63) It started out as a way to kill time as the global pandemic had sidetracked our plans a little. Turns out the truck was the perfect isolation vehicle and visiting lesser known national parks was great fun. We also got to work out all the kinks of life on the road, getting our systems organized, in a country where we spoke the language and knew how to find things. As soon as the post COVID world opened up in 2021, we drove across the US and put the truck on a ship to Liverpool, England.

Europe+route+3.png

Our 32,000 mile, 370 day route around Europe

We spent over a year traveling Europe. We decided to add in a month in Iceland which was not on our original route and we are so glad we did! it was a travel highlight for us). We had visited Italy Spain and Switzerland fairly recently so mostly skipped them this time round.

Daily costs for the two of us in Europe averaged $101 a day with gas being the highest expense at $46 per day followed by groceries at $19. We could save by buying cheaper groceries but at this point in our lives we do like our luxuries (beer, wine, chocolate, meat) so we eat well. The next biggest budget items were restaurants at $9 a day average (which really meant one meal out every few days or visiting a bakery, our favorite European treat) and hotels at $4 a day - which really means a big city hotel a couple times a month. This line item is also supplemented by using the points from our Chase Sapphire Visa card to book hotels at no cost.

Other costs:
Camping - 5
Other - 9

Please realize this is for two people driving in a Toyota Tacoma that averages 14 or 15 miles per gallon and we travel about 100-150 miles a day. We tend to drive a lot, our restlessness combined with a constant eagerness to see the next thing means we usually move on daily (although we try to drive less than 2-3 hours a day).
We also mostly cook our own meals.

Africa+route.png

Our final Africa route 31,000 miles in 377 days

In December 2022, we ferried from Spain to Morocco and began our year in Africa. The main change in our planned-to Africa route was due to the war in Sudan. Knowing that we could not travel north through Sudan as planned, we decided to ship from Kenya to Oman. Unfortunately this meant we would not be driving through Ethiopia and Egypt, two countries we had really been looking forward to. But they are also two countries that are extremely difficult to bring your own vehicle into so we saved ourselves significant bureaucratic hassles and expense by avoiding them. It also allowed us to add in the Arabian Peninsula which we were excited to explore.

In Africa the average cost for the two of us was $117 a day. Once again, gas was the biggest line item although the cost was much less than Europe, at $26 per day. The biggest surprise for us was the second largest budget item - an average of $22 a day for travel documents for 30 different countries. This includes visas for the two of us, and vehicle permitting (we don’t use a Carnet de Passage).

Other costs:
Groceries - $16
Hotels - 10
Camping - 10
Restaurant - 6
Other - 5


Hopefully this is informative

Very informative, especially the Africa bit. Thank you
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
Bahrain

Bahrain is slightly less prosperous than Qatar and also more socially relaxed. It has half the population of Qatar with 50% of its residents living in the capital of Manama. Although not as shiny and new as Doha, Manama had a charm of its own. The country is really a collection of islands with those surrounding Manama connected by modern bridges.

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Visiting the National Museum of Bahrain

Like most of the cultural attractions in both Qatar and Bahrain, the National Museum was free to enter and interesting to wander around. The museum blended historical exhibits about the country with contemporary art shows featuring some of the most renowned artists. Dawn had fun with the art and Andy had fun with the history.

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“Father and Son” by artist Nader AlAbbasi

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“untitled” by Bahrain artist Balqees Fakhro

After a comprehensive morning at the museum food was in order so we made our way to local institution Haji’s Cafe and filled up on traditional machboos (savory chicken and rice), dining on the street.

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Lunch time at Haji’s

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And wandered the souq - more modern than many other we had been to, the souq in Manama was comprehensive - selling everything from luggage to clothing to food

We find traditional Islamic architecture to be beautiful and enjoyed wandering the street of Manama to see what we could find.

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Gorgeous mosaic work

We especially enjoyed exploring the old quarter on Muharraq Island. Splendid doors, intricately carved facades and quiet streets, it was a peaceful ramble.

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And random public art along the way

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We found this beautiful wood working studio highlighting the art of boat building

Our final stop outside of Manama was the old fort, Qal’at al-Bahrain. Originally the site of the capital of the ancient city of Dilmun, the Portuguese built a fort on the site which still contains layers of archeological remains from it’s first occupation in 2300 BC.

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Ongoing excavations of the ancient capital of Dilmun

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Restored 16th century Portuguese fort

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Two more countries and cultures to explore! We know it was a surface level visit, but we still came away feeling like we learned something new. On our way to Saudi Arabia now, a much vaster place to explore. As always, thank you for reading and coming along with us
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
Saudi Arabia - part 1

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Wild camping at “Judah’s Thumb”

Saudi Arabia is enormous, with vast rocky and desert flat stretches. There were areas of exquisite beauty, and also a lot of empty space to cover. It was not our favorite Arabian Peninsula country. The culture felt less welcoming to us, and the main cities did not have the sparkling charm and cultural attractions that we found in UAE or Qatar.

The country is a stricter Muslim country than some of its neighbors, women and men seemed to live more separate lives. Cafes and wilderness spots are filled with groups of men enjoying camaraderie and social time but the women are more out of sight. Saudi Arabian women commonly wore both the abaya (floor length black robe) hijab (head covering) and the niqab (the veil which covers all of her face but the eyes). The men wore mostly white robes with an arafat artistically wrapped on their heads.

Saudi Arabia only officially opened to tourism in 2019, fairly recently. Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country is pursuing economic diversity which includes hopes for tourism revenue. Similar to the rest of the peninsula much of the population is foreign workers but in Saudi Arabia it is lower at 41% non-Saudis. The strict society meant that we always felt safe even as non-Muslims.

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Our 2400 mile route through Saudi Arabia

Our time in the country was probably colored by an uncomfortable situation the first night in the country. After crossing the border, we set up for the night in an empty public beach in the eastern town of Al Batha. Two off duty Naval Captains stopped by and all seemed friendly, they offered us fresh fish and we made them coffee. But over the course of a couple of hours it got weird, one of them cornered Dawn in the camper when Andy was outside and started asking inappropriate questions - all through Google translate in Arabic which adds another strange layer. He was asking “why aren’t you wearing shorts? do you have any pictures of yourself wearing shorts? “-as we were passing phones back and forth to translate he even started looking through her pictures. There was a lot more awkwardness and when she realized it was definitely crossing the line from friendly curiosity to inappropriate (he asked for a kiss) she called out to Andy outside and he backed off. She asked him to leave and he did.

The whole incident was an eye opener for us in terms of how we may appear to the local culture, how women are treated, and where we might be vulnerable. For Dawn, she felt somehow sullied, hard to describe but definitely disrespected. Very different from the automatic “hello mami” she experienced in Africa which always felt like a positive recognition of her as a woman and a mother figure.

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First night in Saudi Arabia, empty beach parking area

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Despite being mostly desert, free clean water was always easy to find in the Arabian Peninsula, we always ran it through our filter anyway just in case

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Another beach camping spot. It was typical for military or police patrols on duty to stop by in even remote beach locations, after that first night always very professional, asking to see our passports and saying it was fine to spend the night.
After a few days in to Saudi Arabia, Andy was feeling sick, Dawn had been sick a few days before in Bahrain. We headed into the desert for him to sleep us off. Thankfully, we had COVID test kits in our first aid bag and decided to test him. He was positive so we quarantined ourselves.

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Driving across the desert to Juda’s Thumb to stay away from people

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Andy’s position in the camper for a few days

Then once we were recovered and safe to be around people we headed to the capital, Riyadh.

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Masmak Fort, built 1865 as the main base to defend Riyadh

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And on the other end of the architectural spectrum, Skybridge, the modern landmark on the Riyadh skyline

We hit a few tourist highlights, but mostly spent our time in the city re-supplying after our desert quarantine. Riyadh was difficult to navigate and we were learning about the peculiarities of Saudi Arabian road design. We came to know the country as U-turn central. Roads were divided with concrete meridians and the most common way of changing direction was by making U-turns. On the one hand, opportunities for U-turns were frequent and sign posted. On the other hand, everyone had to make U-turns to get to their destination, from motorbikes to semi trucks so U-turn lanes backed up and impeded traffic flow. We have never seen so many U-Turn signs. Google and Open Street Maps had the worst navigation interfaces in Saudi Arabian cities of anywhere we had ever been.

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Exploring “The Edge of the World” outside Riyadh

Our journey to “the Edge of the World” was one of our favorite experiences in Saudi Arabia- dramatic cliffs, panoramic views and the ability to camp wherever you were brave enough to.


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Also some great hiking!


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We enjoyed the setting, the sunset, the hiking and, initially our camp. But we made the rookie mistake of setting up too close to the cliff’s edge and by 10pm our camper was rocking in 30mph winds. We have learned that the short term pain of popping down and moving camp is usually the better option over the slow agony of a sleepless night. So we moved inland, tucked behind a dune and had blissful quiet. Sometimes we learn our lessons over time.

The next stop for us was the 15th century Unesco site At-Turaif, also outside of Riyadh. The capital of the first Saudi dynasty, we received a fantastic history lesson about the early rulers from the house of Saud and toured their palaces, mosques and ancient streets.

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Palace at At-Turaif

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Exploring the ruins of At-Turaif

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Typical Saudi Arabian male headwear, beautifully wrapped

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We left At-Turait filled with new knowledge and headed west to see what else we could find to explore.

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Wild camp in the rocky desert (hiding behind a hill to escape the wind)

Our next urban stop was Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. A port city on the Red Sea, it feels industrial and commercial but also has a charming old quarter. Jeddah is also a major gateway to pilgrims visiting Mecca (Makkah) and Medina. The holy city of Mecca, birthplace to Islam is not open to non-Muslims, there is even a separate highway skirting the city for non-Muslims.

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Wandering the cobbled streets of the old city in Jeddah

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We were fascinated by the beautiful “mashrabiya” or wooden screened boxes, designed for a way for women to be able to view activity on the street without being seen by outsiders.

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And we always love the old doors
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
You two are braver than me. That is definitely one country I would forego. Glad you didn't have anymore trouble.
I would not go out of my way to go back there again. However, it was interesting to see. We like to talk about our top 10% countries which include Iceland, Norway, Albania, Romania, Morocco, Benin, Tanzania and Oman but haven’t put together a list of our bottom 10%, but Saudi Arabia would probably qualify.
 

tacototheworld

Well-known member
Saudi Arabia - part 2
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More of the wooden screened boxes

And then we were on our way again - more beach and desert camping!


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We learned to keep an eye out for these guys - mostly they hid under rocks

Next we visited Al Ula, an ancient oasis city in the desert and the surrounding desert with its unique and gorgeous rock formations, canyons and panoramas. It was an area with a lot to explore and another one of our favorites.

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Ruins of ancient Al Ula

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View over the top of ancient Al Ula


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Renovated area of Al Ula with shops and cafes

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After roaming the town for a day, we headed into the desert to find a camping spot.

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Elephant Rock

We saw a ledge with a keyhole arch above Elephant Rock and found our way up there to a private camp with an extraordinary view.

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Camp in view of Elephant Rock

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Hiking around camp

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Our final stop in Saudi Arabia was Hegra (or Mada'in Saleh). Known as the “second Petra", Hegra was also built by the Nabataean kingdom and was a thriving international trading hub in its day. The 1st century BC tombs carved into the rock cliffs throughout the valley are an incredible sight. Well organized and informative tours with guides and buses take you through to key sites, self driving or walking is not allowed. We could have spent a lot more time there, but our 2 hour tour was still a highlight of our time in Saudi Arabia.

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2,000 year old tomb facades, intricately carved, stairs at the top replicate the stairway to heaven. (Maybe Robert Plant visited here in the past?)

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The largest facade at Hegra

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Dawn posing with “Face Rock”

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Our last few days in Saudi Arabia were a collage of more desert camping and exploring enjoying rock formations along the way. We were appreciating the temperate weather, open spaces and the occasional camel.


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Picnic lunch stop in the desert

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Our last Saudi Arabian wild camp, before crossing the border into Jordan.

As always we admit that our less favorable impressions of the country could be due to a series of unfortunate incidents - the creepy guys the first night, sickness, driving frustrations and constant u-turns . . . But in the end we are certainly glad to have had the experience and seen what we did. Thank you for reading and coming along with us!
 

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