You have not been to Riyadh if you haven’t visited the Red Sands.
The place was coined as Red Sands due to its reddish-orange hue of sand dunes. Located approximately 45 minutes from the city center, Red Sands can be reached by car. A 4×4 pickup truck or SUV is recommended if you happen to love extreme adventures.
It was the 13th of January when we visited Red Sands again. It’s my kids second time to be there. The first time we went there was when they were both months old. We didn’t get to ride ATVs or what other people call as quad bikes. This year was my first time going with my husband’s staff. They rented a van and an SUV and the rest rode with us. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The van was too small, the other car that’s supposed to come with us cancelled due to a lover’s quarrel, more staff was present and the boys who will be riding with us took the SUV. So we ended up filling our small car with four ladies at the back, two kids with me on the front seat plus the hubby driver. I do not personally recommend this type of set up and fortunately, we survived the 45-minute ride without being caught by the traffic police.
The road going to Red Sands is paved. You will pass by Dharat Laban and not far away from that is the majestic Wadi Laban Bridge which you can see from your left side. I’ve been dreaming to pass by that bridge due to its wonderful structure but after seven years in Saudi, fortunately, I haven’t been there. 😀 Here’s a photo by Edward Musiak.
When you are near the U-turn slot (seen on the map as Al Moqbel Palaces) you’ll realize how high Riyadh City Center is because of the ringing in your ears. You that feeling when you go to high places. You’ll pass by a valley with little green trees and desert shrubs along the way. Few camels of different colors on sight. You’ll see the usual mountains of sedimentary rocks on both sides and around 5 to 10 minutes after the U-turn slot, from afar the majestic Red Sands. You’ll see tents and array of quad bikes to your left side.
Red Sands has two main parts. The first one is a wider area for quad bikes but unfortunately, there are no trees for shade. There is a small place where Arabs will pray and for me, this is actually better if you want to ride with a 4×4 or ATVs due to a much larger space. Below the dunes are like smaller dunes (but not sand, it looks like something used for skateboarding), with different smaller wholes which is also good for ATV rides. The second one is at the back of first stop which is a little bit smaller but has numerous trees where you can park and will serve as a shade if you happen to have your lunch or breakfast there. Camels of different colors are also found at the far back side where you can take a picture if you want to. But for health reasons, you have to avoid camel exposure now due to the risk of having MERS-CoV.
Upon arrival, a flock of ATV owners came to where we parked our car and offered ATVs for rent. During this season, SR30 to SR40 for one hour is a good price. If you rent more or if you rent by the group, you can get SR 20 to SR 25 for one-hour quad bike ride. Choose ones with new wheels are they are more durable and easier to driver especially when getting up and down the dunes. In non-peak seasons it can go as high as SR 50 to SR 100. Friendly tip, do not go on summer season because of the heat and expensive prices. Go on spring, autumn or winter and go on weekends. I haven’t been there on weekdays but it’ll probably cost more because of fewer people on weekdays. We did not rent ours just yet. We hiked on top of the dune, let the kids play in the sand and took pictures. After around 15 minutes, my husband rented his ATV and rode with our Carlisam. My son, Johann is afraid of riding so we ended up playing in the sand and taking selfies together. When the ride was finished, I saw Carli’s face, she looks like she enjoyed and is very satisfied. Johann got jealous and suddenly he wanted to drive. So he and my husband went off driving again while we down and ate chips inside our car. There are no stores in the place. You can pack your lunch or breakfast and there. There is a mobile ice cream parlor where you can buy ice cream to beat the heat. We stayed inside the car and turned on the AC and music while waiting for the two. By the way, there are no restrooms.
After a few minutes, when everyone was done with their quad bike adventures we decided to eat out lunch in Hidden Valley. This place used to be beautiful with all the trees but now its just piles and piles of soil, rocks and sand with one or two shrubs. I think there is a quarry going on in that area. The road is now really rugged and it got bumpy due to the rocks but we reached safely. It’s a 5-minute ride from the Red Sands you just have to turn left after the next checkpoint. Do not turn left prior to the checkpoint (like we did and got lost).
We had pancit and lumpia for lunch. Someone baked puto flan for dessert. After lunch we rested for a while, some explored the Hidden Valley, took a photo, climb the mountain, etc. My Johann found anq empty bottle of mineral water and started collecting rocks. We got a fossilized shell (proof that this might have been part of the sea millions of years ago) and a few marbles. Carli did her favorite thing-sleep (which was good for me because I got to rest from running after toddlers for a few minutes.
We left Hidden Valley and reach the city around 2PM. It was a short trip but the kids enjoyed and that’s what’s important.
Next stop prior to Pilipinas vacation:
- King Abdullah Park at night
- Riyadh National Museum or any other museum
- Food trip
- Maybe another Edge of the World
Girl in Blue Scrubsuits