Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Feb. 2010

Here is another entry from one of our recent tour participants – thanks Iryna!!

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Feb. 2010.

First, a very big thank you to all at Caravan-Serai who made our journey around Saudi Arabia such a wonderful experience!!!!!

After many years living in different countries (Ukraine, Russia, USA, England, Switzerland, Dubai), I moved to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia about three months ago. My first priority in a new country is to learn about its history, culture, and most importantly try to socialize with local people. I searched the Internet for locally-arranged tours around Saudi without success until I found the Caravan-Serai website. I was really impressed with the wealth of information and positive reviews by travelers on previous trips including the countries of most interest to me, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran…

Our trip took 12 days starting in Riyadh where I met up with our group and tour guide, Hatem Jameel, who is a Saudi from Jeddah. After two days in Riyadh, we flew to Najran (south, 15 miles from Yemen), then by road to Abha (took a cable car to a mountain village), later to Al Ula, Madain Salih (second most important Nabatean kingdom with Petra-type structures), Hail, Sakaka, Jubbah (go there if you are into petroglyphs), and finally Jeddah (highest water jet in the world).

Photos are of Rajal Village, Abha; Petra-type structure at Madain Salih; and Petroglyph at Jubbah

It was a wonderful trip around most of the country, everywhere we were met with delicious Arabic coffee and dates for which Saudi is famous. All meals were fresh, tasty, multiple courses, and with a variety of delicious breads (stopped counting calories after Najran!).

The Saudis we met were – without exception – friendly and hospitable and we reluctantly turned down many invitations to visit their homes due to shortage of time.

The highlight of my trip was meeting many different people and being invited into their homes and having the opportunity to ask many questions about their lives and society.

Although we saw many awesome sites, Jameel is the star of Arabia! He has so much local knowledge which he proudly shared without hesitation, with infinite patience and humor, plus he added a color and depth which would have been impossible to get if travelling alone.

In Jeddah, we met Jameel’s family who are wonderful people and I really looking forward to keeping in touch with them.

This was my first trip with Caravan Serai but definitely will not be the last!

Iryna Jones
Jeddah, March 1, 2010

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