Thursday, October 05, 2006

Camel trails:

The central region of Arabia is blessed with beautiful land features that are yet to be appreciated by Saudis. One such feature is the famous Tuwaiq mountain range to the west of the capital Riyadh. It extends hundreds of kilometers from north to south.

I heard stories about ancient camel trails cutting up through the escarpment but didn’t know where to start till I discovered Ionis Thompson book “desert treks from Riyadh” few years ago. In here book, she talked about different camel trails that follow natural watercourses with man-made retaining walls made of slabs of rocks.

The escarpment is about 40km west from downtown Riyadh and is easy to reach. The whole area is populated with many caches but there are at least four caches hidden in four different trails that have been identified and frequently visited by geocachers.

First camel trail (see pic above and to the side) is located left of the main (Makkah) road as you go west down the escarpment (Giddiyyah) and is the best preserved one. The lining of the trail with slabs of rocks and steps carved in stones signify a period of flourishing trade that took place in ancient Arabia.

Caravans of travellers from places as far as Yemen in south Arabia and pilgrims coming west from Makkah on the Red Sea moved up with camels full of loads on their backs.

All caches hidden in these trails are multicache with the first part stashed at the very top of the escarpment and the final part, as expected, smartly placed at the bottom. The four multicaches have been hidden by one of the very first geocachers in Arabia, our dear friend yet to meet, M&M.

I wrote an article on these caches which was published in the Fall 2005 issue of Today's Cacher magazine.