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  • Writer's pictureHilary McCormack

The Pyramidal Star Dunes of Ad Dahna

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

November 2022: The season is just right to load up the car and head back out into the beautiful wind-manicured desert of the Saudi hinterland. I was slow to get organized this year as I implemented a new approach for my 2022/23 amateur touring season.

  1. Local Driver's license - Check.

  2. A new set of wheels - meet Jonty! Check.

  3. Refresh my memory of desert driving - Check.

This year I gave up my comfortable place in the passenger seat and got behind the wheel myself. Adding one more lady driver to the roads of Saudi Arabia. Having driven for years in both UAE and Bahrain, I do have some gripping driving tales up my sleeve, but these days I am more weathered and careful, inshallah! As the saying goes, nothing beats experience like experience, so I was primed for some new Saudi Arabian adventures.

This weekend trip was a two-day group driving trail to the Star Dunes of Al Dahna, a beautiful isolated location four hours from Riyadh. That's two hours north of Riyadh on the bumpy bitumen of Road 550 and a further almost two hours inland across winding tracks to the dunes where we made our campsite.

The Star Dunes are a collection of impressive dunes that dot the Ad Dahna area. The dunes rise up from the sparse plains and are arranged by the wind in a balanced way around the dune's center point, with varying degrees of sheer slopes on several sides.

Great fun to climb and, in some cases, a good workout for your driving skills also. But the most rewarding task is taking a photo of these towering giants as the sun and moon rises and falls behind them.

Birthday celebrations for one of our campers

Once our tents were up and night fell, adults, kids, and pets settled around the campfire to have dinner and watch the night's performance of shooting stars in the clear dark sky above our heads. If you want to have fun exploring the night sky, check out the app Stellarium+, which shows a realistic night sky in 3D...

Star gazing at night.. the milky way was clearly visible above our heads!

In the vastness of the Saudi desert, you can really feel a part of something ancient because there is no better place to discover the magic of the active galaxy and solar system that adorn the night sky, which is 4.5 billion years old and 25,000 light years away and pretty tricky to take a photo of!

Sun Rise

Our group of enthusiasts

*If you are visiting these pristine desert locations, please leave them as you find them, clean and completely rubbish-free.

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