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  • Writer's pictureHilary McCormack

Al Zulfi Dunes, Saudi Arabia

Updated: Apr 1

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French Writer.

Happy Camels, its wet and green this winter in Al Zufli

In the spirit of adventure, I spent the 2024 Easter weekend exploring the Saudi desert instead of catching a flight out of Riyadh for elsewhere! 


The destination for this weekend of fun and desert thrill-seeking was Al Zulfi. Al Zulfi is located in the eastern part of Al-Qassim Province, and it is situated in the historical region of Najd. It is approximately 70 kilometers away from Buraydah, the province's capital, and more than 290 kilometers north of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. So it was a good two-and-a-half-hour drive from home to the group meeting point.

Saudi has some of the most amazing roundabout sculptures.

Al Zulfi is noted for its many wells and fertile soils and has thousands of acres of land under cultivation.

So, back to the group, we are a team of seven experienced off-road drivers with camping, navigation, and desert driving expertise. Here is a look at what we got up to; it was pretty epic.

Strategizing on the crest of a dune!

We had a team leader, a group sweeper, and five other cars. We did lots of dune work across oceans of stunning dunes. 

For those of us stretching ourselves a bit more than usual, we got wonderful support from the experts in the group. 

Some of us descended our first 45-degree angle dune, which was an exhilarating experience and much more technical than you think. 

At night, we huddled around the fire pit and had great fireside chats. 

Our weekend stats: Approximately 120 kilometers off-road, dune height differences of up to 80 meters, umpteen stucks, no breakdowns, a few bumper cracks, one tow rope fatigue; we drove across oceans of wild green desert-scapes, under dramatic dark skies, and overnight got some refreshing rain, which did make the desert terrain much more forgiving than usual. 

A majestic lone tree in the middle of no where! Perfect for a shady lunch spot.

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