On the way up to Al-Hada. The cable car seen was from Ramada Hotel at Al-Hada down to a theme park on Makkah side.
We left Yanbu at 10 am and reached Taif around 2pm via Jeddah, taking the newly opened road from Makkah to Al-Hada, Taif. Actually it was nothing much we did in Taif as it was meant only for stopover before the long journey to Abha (~550 km from Taif to Abha). This is not the only road to Abha but this road from Taif to Abha will give the spectacular views of mountain ranges and western desert of Saudi Arabia.
Early in the morning, somewhere around 8 AM, we left Taif for Abha. It was never expected that the journey took us 11 hours with short few stops along the way. The views, the roads along the journey was so spectacular and beautiful. It was amazing to find out of so many towns and villages along the road. Maybe due to its climate which is relatively cool compared to the other parts of this country that attract people to settle down on top of this mountainous region.
A stop right after a town called Al-Bahar. Later we realized that we should have made the stopover in this town instead of Taif.
Finally at 7 PM we reached the hotel in Abha. We stayed at Al-Nuzhah Resort Hotel which is fronting a lake. It is not a five star resort but is very spacious and the rate was relatively cheaper than in Taif.
A part of As Sad lake view from our apartment; Al-Nuzhah Resort, Abha
The following day, early in the morning we went to Abha Visitor Center just to find out that it was still closed. So, we just headed to Mount Sodah, 2800 m from sea level and it is believed to be the highest peak in Saudi Arabia. It took us about 30 minutes to reach Al Sodah Resort where there is a cable car service to the village down the mountain.
At a Mt Sodah Cable Car Station. The climate was so cool even though it was still summer in Saudi
A view of the valley from top of Mr Sodah. So far, it was the steepest cable car ride for me at least. The ride took us about 15 minutes to reach the valley.
At the valley, we met Mr. Ali Ibraheem Moghawi, an author of "Rujal the Chief Urban Town" and supervisor at Rijal Alma Museum. It was interesting to listen to Mr. Ali about the history of the region and later he and his assistant drove us down to Rijal Alma (a town further down) which took us another 20 minutes drive.
In front of Aseeri House at Rijal Alma with Mr. Ali Ibraheem. These houses were the traditional house which is now a museum.
At night we went for dinner on top of Green Mountain. Having seen the clouds waving thru them made the kids so excited. The restaurant? Nice view but service and food still need a lot of improvement.
On the day back to Yanbu, we went to Open Souq @ Tuesday Market at the downtown of Abha. Most of the shops there basically were selling traditional items. I ended bought 2 traditional swords which are used in their traditional dance.
We took different road for back home. We made an exit to a town called Mukhail. The unique thing about this road was that it has 11 tunnels and it is very winding and dangereous. However, it was compensated with the magnificent view of the mountain range which the road cut through. It was really worthwhile! One advise though, never take this road at night.
One of the bridges connecting the cliff.
I guessed this one was the third of the many tunnels.
We safely reached home after 14 hours of journey. There are still a lot places that we didn't manage to visit such as 'Hanging Village" at Habalah, old palace at Al-Qura, 'Grand Canyon' at Khamis Mushayat and or course exploring many of its natural parks such as Aseer National Park, Al-Souda Park, Al-Jarrah and many others. InsyaAllah, its worth to plan coming again this region.
More photos can be seen at My Photo - Trip to Abha