Wa’abah Crater

A grandiose testimony of the volcanic activity of the Hejaz

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Makkah Province is also an active volcanic area where ancient and recent eruptions have poured lavas over wide areas called harra. On the north of the province the Harrat Rihat is the southern tip of a series of harras that spread over 300 kilometers until the city of Madinah.

200 kilometers flying distance to the city of Makkah is the Harrat Kishb where recent dark lava flows, volcanic cones, and craters including Wa'abah are clearly visible on satellite images.

Harrat Kishb and Wa'abah (photo: Google Earth)

Harrat Kishb and Wa'abah (photo: Google Earth)

The crater is located north of the the Riyadh-Makkah highway and is reachable after a 100 kilometer drive from the exit Umm Al-Dum. The tarmac goes until few hundreds meters to the crater and is continued by a good track that runs until the edge.

Once there one can admire the grandiose beauty of this wonderful natural feature that was created by a cataclysmic event.

Wa'abah crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Wa'abah crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Indeed in this area where magma regularly rises for millions of years until the surface where it creates volcanoes and lava fields, at the location of Wa'abah the scenario was quite different as magma met some underground water on its way.

Greenery on the edge of Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Greenery on the edge of Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

The magma brought the water till the point of boiling as the pressure resulting from the water boiling under the ground was a gigantic explosion that created the nearly two kilometers diameter large crater of Wa'abah.

If the temperature has cooled down and the lava has solidified long ago, the palm trees growing on the edge of the crater attests of the presence till today of underground water.

Greenery on the edge of Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Greenery on the edge of Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Although the downhill path is a bit steep it is possible to walk down the crater sides until the bottom located 200 meters lower.

The center of the crater is covered with salty sediments whose whitish color sharply contrasts with the dark shades of the basaltic ground.

Sharp contrast between the salty sediments and the basaltic ground (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Sharp contrast between the salty sediments and the basaltic ground (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

But the stunning view from the top that reveals the huge dimensions of the crater already deserves a trip to admire Wa'abah.

Saudi couple admiring the Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

Saudi couple admiring the Wa'abah Crater (photo: Martin Beuvelot)

How to visit Wa'abah crater

The location of Wa'abah crater is available on Google Maps and there is a road that leads until the edge of the crater ​where facilities were built for visitors. Wa'abah crater is about 200 kilometers from Ta'if and 700 kilometers from Riyadh.


A grandiose testimony of the volcanic activity of the Hejaz (author: Florent Egal)

About the Author

My name is Florent Egal, I am a French national living in Riyadh since January 2010. After six years of exploration of Saudi Arabia I have decided to show with this website that KSA has much more to offer than the stereotype landscape of empty extends of sand dunes. I hope that after reading through these pages people will feel the same willingness and amazement than I have to discover this fascinating country

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Morihiro - March 30, 2017 Reply

We are planning to hold 4×4 car event(desart Race) in Saudiarabia. So, could you please let us know the exciting course or tour? Your kind understanding would be highly appreciated.
Best regards,

    Andy Conder - March 31, 2017 Reply

    Hi there, thanks for your message.
    The desert areas around Hail and Jeddah are where the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation hold their annual rallies. Please note that for any desert race, safety should be the primary consideration, including plans for medical emergencies. Perhaps you could contact the SAMF directly to see what advice they give. They will also be able to provide information regarding the possibility of you entering teams into the rallies. Their phone number is 011/2885855 ت:22/31
    Good luck!

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