al shifa mountains near taif

Exploring Taif & Al-Shafa Mountains

Taif is one of major tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia mainly due to its pleasant weather in summers and beautiful flora in spring season. It is said that members of royal family also shift from capital Riyadh to Taif during summers.

I would combine my two trips to Taif in this post. It was a hot summer weekend when me and my friends decided to visit Taif. This was my first trip to the place. Taif is around 200 km from Jeddah (almost 2.5 hrs drive) and one can easily manage one day trip. It was not a properly planned trip. Just a bunch of guys decided for an excursion, packed in cars and left for Taif.

The Way to Taif

There are two different roads to access Taif from Jeddah. One is through a place called Usfan. Although this road is a bit deserted and longer than the other but its pretty straight, no sharp bends and no steep heights. On the other hand, the second road is through Al-Hada. This road is a bit dangerous because of its curves and sharp inclination. We chose Usfan road.

One should be cautious when approaching Taif as there are no safety barriers along the road and camels move freely in the area. I have heard many car and camel accidents in Saudi Arabia. It sounds a bit odd and funny but it’s really life threatening potential hazard specially at night.

Camels along the road pose a high risk  of accident for fast-moving cars as they usually don’t get afraid by vehicles . Pic taken near Taif.

303927_10150363248861405_516071342_n

Al-Shafa Mountains and Shobra Palace (Museum) in Taif

We reached Taif at noon. Weather was pleasant even in summer. However city was just like any other metropolitan with busy roads, buildings, shops etc. Since this trip was not pre-planned, we all were scratching our heads now and thinking, what to do? Where to go now? None of us knew any picnic spot.

We parked our cars along the road and started ringing our other friends back in Jeddah to ask if they know any tourist spot in Taif or its surroundings.

Funny thing was, we were standing right in front of Shobra Palace (pic below) while asking our buddies for interesting places in Taif but we were unaware of this museum (No board on building as well). I just clicked this building as it seemed attractive to me. Later after going back to Jeddah, I came to know that it was Shobra Palace, one of main attractions of Taif. 🙂

04032011822

One of our friends told us about a tourist spot – Al Shafa, which was around 40 km further away from Taif city. Thanks to Nokia maps, we had no problem in reaching there. That was really a nice place with beautiful landscape.

A view of surroundings while climbing one of mountains.

189195_10150150419306405_6314917_n

Another view of Al Shafa mountains.

04032011888

After some hiking and exploring the area, we had lunch and then returned back to Jeddah.

Taif Water Park & Ramada Hotel

My second trip to Taif was a planned trip as we were going with our families. We heard of a family water park in Taif with separate pools for men and women. So on planned date, we headed straight towards Taif water park and spent some quality time taking water rides and swimming in pools.

Wave pool in Taif water park.

76350_499631796404_5040716_n

There was a hotel at top of hills. Can you locate small yellow rectangle (Ramada hotel) in below picture on right side of conical structure? A cable car was operating between Taif water park and Ramada hotel.

149531_499631706404_5337637_n

A view of water park.

149847_499632311404_8066955_n

We went to Ramada hotel via cable car and had a buffet dinner. There was an open balcony giving a bird eye view of the surroundings. We were feeling some cold at balcony due to wind but view was so spectacular that we spent an hour in gossips and enjoying the landscape.

A view of hills from hotel’s balcony.

76741_499634841404_3421622_n

Road going down the hill,  view from hotel’s balcony.

304012_10150363268591405_2066479195_n

Leaving the water park.

148184_499635871404_6477078_n

It was getting late now and we still had to drive for two hours to go back to Jeddah. So we left the hotel. While returning back to park, we saw decorated camels but we didn’t have time for a short camel ride. We postponed it for next time.

Can you spot camel face in below snapshot?

315036_10150363256516405_1284040429_n

Pic taken from cable car while returning to base.

DSC00126

Taif water park at night, pic taken from cable car.

DSC00179

Now we were tired. We didn’t waste any time in water park and left for Jeddah straightaway. The day was definitely well spent.

Location & Coordinates

Coordinates of Taif Water Park : 21.358030, 40.223022

Coordinates of Al-Shafa Mountains: 21.080918, 40.315478

Coordinates of Shobra Palace Museum : 21.286458, 40.414891

My Route

PS: The start and finish points of my route are indicative only.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s