Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

The birthplace and spiritual home of Islam, Saudi Arabia is rich in attractions and stirring symbolism.

Journey Overview

The birthplace and spiritual home of Islam, Saudi Arabia is a mysterious desert kingdom that has been closed to much of the outside world until recently. On this journey you’ll discover the hidden delights of this uncharted territory on an exclusive glimpse at a realm veiled in secrecy. Discover the carved temples of Madain Saleh, known as the second Petra, and stand in awe of the sophisticated rock art of Jubbah, some of the kingdom’s greatest pre-Islamic treasures. Explore fascinating Riyadh, a showpiece for modern Saudi Arabia, while Jeddah’s World Heritage coral architecture whisks you back to the history of this bustling pilgrim port and the pristine, azure waters of the Red Sea await. From the capital’s bustling centre to the mud-brick village of Al Ula, rock art galleries and modern museums, Saudi Arabia reveals a host of architectural marvels and ancient icons.

Journey Highlights 

  • Visit ancient monuments and heritage listed wonders, including Jeddah’s ‘Floating Mosque’
  • Explore the mysterious mountain and desert landscapes of Al Ula, and the surrounding breathtaking sites including Madain Saleh, Al Ragasat and Elephant Rock
  • Attend a special guest lecture on treasured antiquities
  • Be immersed in the local language with a Thamudic script demonstration 
  • Savour Saudi hospitality during lunch at a local farm 
  • Witness a captivating demonstration of traditional dance alongside a flavourful farewell dinner 
  • Typically features a small group size of 10–12 guests
Itinerary

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

An Arrive in Saudi Arabia’s buzzing capital Riyadh to a warm A&K welcome and transfer to your luxurious hotel. 

Freshen up before a tour briefing with your Resident Tour Director and fellow travellers, followed by a delicious welcome dinner. 

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Once a walled, mud-brick way station along desert trading routes, it is now a modern metropolis that is changing at a rapid rate.
Intercontinental Riyadh | Meals: D

Day 2: Riyadh | Ancient Monuments & Historic Artefacts

Start your day by visiting heritage listed Diriyyah, an historic site on the outskirts of Riyadh, which is said to be the birthplace of the first Saudi state and is today the current home of the royal family. The mud-brick walls once fortified a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce. In 1745, the city was named the country’s capital, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia. 

Take a walk through the old town to admire its many ancient ruins including the once-splendid palace, houses and marketplace. Continue to Musmak Fort, in Riyadh’s old quarter, built during the reign of Abdullah bin Rashid in 1895 A.D. Afterwards, explore the Dirah Souq, a market famed for colourful textiles from silk to luxurious pashminas, before stopping for lunch. 

This afternoon, be guided through the National Museum, a national treasure and World Heritage Site, composed of eight galleries that tell the complete story of Arabian history - from the creation of the universe to the modern era. 

Continue to Murabba Palace, built by King Abdul Aziz in 1937. A family dwelling, it was constructed from local materials and is composed of several smaller palaces, service buildings, and the Royal Diwan. Afterwards, discover Saudi fashion on a visit to the Kingdom Tower shopping mall. Female travellers will be fascinated by Ladies Kingdom, a women-only shopping mall, where there are opportunities to meet local women who will share their stories and insight into life in the kingdom. This evening, meet a special guest from within the antiquities, finance or creative sectors, learning about their projects, their impact and how work has changed over recent years.
Intercontinental Riyadh | Meals: BL

Day 3: Qassim Hail | Ancient Rock Art

This morning transfer to the airport for your flight northwest to Hail, located in the northern Arabian Peninsula. Transfer by road to heritage listed Jubbah, where magnificent rock carvings and petroglyphs adorn the surrounding sandstone outcrops depicting thousand-year-old illustrations of camels, lions, and other wildlife that called the region home.

A historic crossroads of trade, especially during the hajj season when camel caravans passed through, Hail has played an intriguing role in the history of modern Saudi Arabia, and it is home to a buzzing souq and one of the last remaining proper flea markets in the country.

Be treated to some Saudi hospitality and learn about the importance of camels in Saudi culture as you sit down to a lunch of traditional fare at a local farm. Return to Hail, and pay a visit to Qeshla Palace, admiring the monumental structure from the outside before exploring the ancient A’arif Fort built on top of a rocky outcrop with outstanding views over the city.

Following your explorations, meet with Fraih Al Shummari, a local guide, and his family, who will immerse you in the local language with a written demonstration of the Thamudic script, an elegant northern variant of the typical South Arabian script.

Afterwards, travel by road to your hotel for dinner with your group. 
Millennium Hotel Hail | Meals: BLD

Day 4: Al Ula | Towering Ancient Monuments

This morning, visit the intriguing Hail Local Heritage Museum, the private museum of local resident Khalid Bin Hamoud Al Matrod, set in a traditional Najd house. Peruse the eclectic collection which comprises domestic items from kitchen paraphernalia to antique radio and get a glimpse of a bygone era. 

After your explorations, drive to Al Ula (approx. 5hrs) and enjoy lunch with your fellow travellers. 

Nestled in a large, spectacular valley, where palm groves run down the centre of a wadi and foreboding red-sandstone cliffs rise up on either side, Al Ula was historically located on the Incense route and was an important trading hub for the ancient Lihyanites. It has a delightfully mysterious air about it and is the gateway to Saudi Arabia's very own 'Petra', Madain Saleh. 

Spend your afternoon exploring the wonders of World Heritage listed Madain Saleh. Southernmost settlement of the Nabatean kingdom, the city was known as ‘Al Hijr’ during ancient times and was once a stopover on the very prosperous trade route. The site spreads over 2000 square metres, with an abundance of relics and rock-cut tombs. Discover the Nabatean Well, Qasr Al Bint, Diwan Tomb, and Al Farid Palace as well as the preserved railway station. 

As sunset approaches, return to your tented camp for dinner.
Sahary Al Ula Camp | Meals: BLD

Day 5: Al Ula | Imposing Mountains & Legendary Landscapes

Start the day with a desert adventure to Al Ragasat and its towering carved rose-coloured sandstone mountains, known as ‘The Dancers’. After your mountain explorations, drive back to Al Ula for a traditional lunch. 

After refuelling it’s off to the iconic ‘Elephant Rock’ and nearby mudbrick village, before driving onward to Harrat Uairedh, the town’s highest point with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Drink in the sunset from this spectacular vantage point over a cup of Arabic coffee, or tea, with dates. 

This evening you may like to admire the area from above on an exhilarating helicopter ride over the surrounding landscape taking in breathtaking aerial views of Al Ula (additional cost). Return to camp for dinner.
Sahary Al Ula Resort | Meals: BLD

Day 6: Jeddah | Captivating Port City

This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital and the main gateway to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. Your first stop in this cosmopolitan city is the open-air museum on the Corniche where you can admire an extraordindary array of modern sculpture ranging from traditional Arabic designs to the abstract and monumental. Afterwards, gaze upon the ‘floating mosque’ which appears to drift on the water’s surface shimmering in the sun light.  Pause to take in the spectacular views over the Red Sea. 

Next, discover King Fahd’s Fountain, also known as Jeddah Fountain, which is the tallest of its type in the world, shooting saltwater from the Red Sea 300 metres up into the air, at speeds over 300 kilometres per hour. 

The historic crossroads of pilgrims and traders, Jeddah is the most fascinating of Saudi Arabia's major cities, with a cosmopolitan and liberal air not present anywhere else in the country. Admire the city's World Heritage Red Sea architecture, explore the bustling souq and laid-back coastline that's home to fantastic dive sites, and its diverse, world-class cuisine. The evening is yours to explore this captivating city.
Intercontinental Jeddah | Meals: B

Day 7: Jeddah | Ancient City Explorations & Design Your Day

This morning, be led on a tour of Jeddah’s traditional architecture. Visit some of the old Ottoman houses, constructed from coral and reinforced with wooden beams, including Nasif House, one of the most beautiful which was built in the 1850's by the distinguished Nasif Family, one of the most influential trading families in the history of Jeddah. It was here that King Abdul Aziz spent his first night in Jeddah as the guest of Mohammed Nasif after leading his victorious army into the capital of the Western Province.

This afternoon plot your own course selecting one of these Design Your Day activities: 

  • Admire spectacular art and architecture at Abdul Raouf Khalil 
    Explore Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum which showcases the nearly 2,500-year old history of the Jeddah area with exhibitions spanning pre-Islamic history, to pre-modern civilisations and the rich Islamic cultural heritage of the city. The complex also contains a mosque and the facade of an old castle.
  • Gaze at geological wonders while exploring majestic Moon Valley 
    Admire the geological wonders of majestic Moon Valley on a day hike. The area is known for its unique rock formations that have naturally formed over millions of years into different shapes. Hone your photographic skills as you clamber across the terrain keeping an eye out for a variety of endemic wildlife.
  • Private beach experience
    Take time out to enjoy some private beach time. Jeddah boasts some of Saudi Arabia’s best beaches so take your pick and escape the city to relax in the sun or explore the underwater tropical forest on a snorkelling adventure.

Return to the hotel for your farewell dinner, accompanied by a mesmerising traditional dance performance. 
Intercontinental Jeddah | Meals: BD

Day 8: Depart Jeddah

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Riyadh–Al-Ula/Al Ula–Jeddah
Maximum Group Size: 18
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tour Inclusions

  • All accommodation as detailed with private facilities
  • Meals as specified in itinerary, including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Internal flights as mentioned in itinerary
  • Services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director - Airport welcome
  • Porterage
  • Group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Bottled water during transfers and touring
  • All entrance fees
  • Planning, handling, operational and communication charges
  • All tipping

Tour Exclusions

  • International flights to the tour start point and from the tour end point
  • Visas and other border fees
  • Insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip
  • Items of a purely personal nature such as drinks (unless specified), laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax or phone charges
  • Transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary
  • Excess baggage charges

Tailor Made Travel with A&K
If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, talk to your A&K travel specialist or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke journey for your, or a small group.

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Accommodation/Partners

Accommodation/Partners

Intercontinental Riyadh

Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Set amidst 100 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the InterContinental Riyadh combines peaceful surroundings with urban luxury. Man ... Read more

Millennium Hotel Hail

Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Centrally located Millennium Hail Hotel Saudi Arabia offers luxury accommodation in its 166 luxurious rooms and 17 suites, each spacious, ... Read more

Sahary Al Ula Camp

Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Sahary Al Ula Camp offers comfortable tented accommodations amid incredible landscapes. Savour delicious local fare at the onsite restaur ... Read more

Intercontinental Jeddah

Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Slender palms and the turquoise waters of the outdoor pool combine to create this cool haven on the edge of the Red Sea. Stroll through t ... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Oct 15, 2021 - Oct 22, 2021
Price AU$12,550pp Single Supplement AU$1,660 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book
Nov 19, 2021 - Nov 26, 2021
Price AU$12,550pp Single Supplement AU$1,660 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book
Feb 18, 2022 - Feb 25, 2022
Price AU$12,550pp Single Supplement AU$1,660 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book