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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Taking a Day Trip to Wadi Al-Disah

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Have you ever gone completely out of your way to do something just because the photos looked so amazing? That’s exactly what we did when we went to Wadi Al-Disah! When we saw photos of this canyon, we knew we HAD to go. 'Al-Disah' means 'Valley of the Palms' and let's just say, it describes this picturesque valley well! This spot is definitely off the beaten path and mostly visited by domestic Saudi tourists. This wadi (river valley in Arabic) is located in Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve which is 143 km south of Tabuk. The only problem was that we decided not to spend any nights in Tabuk. Therefore, we decided to make it a day trip to Wadi Al-Disah during our stay in Al Ula, which was just a 6-hour drive there & back in ONE day instead!

Canyon & Palms in the canyon river valley at Wadi Al-Disah Saudi Arabia
Wadi Al-Disah - Literally known as 'Valley of the Palms' in Arabic.
Getting To Wadi Al-Disah

There are actually two ways to access Wadi Al-Disah. The more popular way is to leave from Tabuk and enter the wadi from the northern part or drive down to the southern entrance. Coming from Al Ula, the south entrance is just past the town of Disah, so that’s how we decided to enter. (Supposedly if you come from the north you can only get so far before you can't get further past.) We knew we were off the tourist path when all the signs were in Arabic. Once passing by Disah and heading to the Wadi Al-Disah entrance via Google maps, it was pretty straightforward. However, just be forewarned there is not a lot of shops, restaurants, or really anything in Disah. They have a couple of small shops and a couple of gas stations but that’s about it, so make sure you aren’t planning to eat there, unless you just need a few snacks!

The road with the red canyons lining the road way in Saudi Arabia.
The road just past the town of Disah that leads to Wadi Al-Disah south entrance.

There wasn’t a lot of English information on the Internet about Wadi Al-Disah. However, we did find one person who had visited a couple of years ago and said it took him about 2 hours to hike in & back, so the plan was to do the hike through the canyon.

Hike or 4x4 Wadi Al-Disah??

However, when we arrived and parked, which is literally parking on the side of the road, there were some 4x4s at the entrance for hire. One approached us and said he would take us out for 7 km and back for 300 SAR ($80 USD). We decided to just continue to hike and then he quickly came down to 200 SAR. We started to head to the canyon, but Alex figured he might be able to negotiate lower (plus he really wanted to try a 4x4), so he headed back as the kids & I proceeded. A short while later, Alex and the driver of our topless Toyota Land Cruiser stopped by to pick us up – he had negotiated down to 150 SAR or almost $40 USD or $50 CDN.

Mom & daughter in back seat of 4x4 vehicle at entrance of Wadi Al-Disah.
Loaded up on our 4x4 ready to begin our drive through Wadi Al-Disah.

In all honesty, getting the 4x4 was the best option! Most of the other Saudis who were visiting the area had their own 4x4 vehicles. Many would 4x4 through the canyon, have a picnic or even stop to camp. We honestly wouldn't have made it much past the first 200 meters without a 4x4, as there was a huge area of water that we had to pass through. It ended up being the most amazing hour of 4x4ing. We drove through sand, an area full of reeds, lots more water and even watched the 4x4 vehicles navigate 2-way traffic in the single lane pathway!

Family on the open top 4x4 heading into Wadi Al-Disah in Saudi Arabia.
Heading in to the Wadi Al-Disah on our 4x4.

We went in and stopped shortly for a bit of a break before heading back, but as we approached the break area, a herd of camels came out of the trees! There were so many of them and even a couple of babies!!! It was just the best surprise!

The 4x4 ride lasted about 1 hour total. However, all four of us were having a complete blast, so it felt much shorter! The kids absolutely loved it – Connor was trying to stand at the end & Clara enjoyed jamming out to his tunes as we navigated along!

Woman taking photos of the palms above as we drive through the valley in Saudi Arabia.
Spectacular palms and valley through Wadi Al-Disah.

Like mentioned before, this definitely isn’t a big tourist area for international tourists so our 4x4 driver didn’t speak a ton of English, but he knew the basics to get by!

Post 4x4 Coffee & Tea

After the 4x4 ride, Alex tried to pay but the driver didn’t have any change, so they headed to a nearby gas station. Meanwhile, the kids & I stayed back to go find a place to eat our lunch. As we were walking back towards the canyon, a local Saudi offered to drive us through the water area. We hopped in and he took us into the canyon area where some of his friends were camping & about to eat lunch. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if it was just genuine hospitality or if they were trying to sell us drinks, so I said we’d wait for Alex to come back & then we’d come back over.

When Alex did arrive back, we headed over to their blanket for some true Saudi hospitality. They warmed up some of the food they had been eating & offered us some, as well as gave the kids dates & cookies and a cup of tea! Later they brewed some coffee – grinding the coffee grounds right there – as well as a cup of the date coffee they prepared.

Mom & two children sit on colorful carpet under the palms enjoying Saudi hospitality.
Getting treated to Saudi hospitality after our 4x4 ride in the camping area.

It turned out that they were a group of young men who were here camping on their work holiday from Jeddah. We chatted with them, learned a little more about how things work in Saudi and overall, just really enjoyed their kindness and hospitality. It was definitely an experience to remember!

Two children climbing on the top of the curved palm tree at Wadi Al-Disah in Saudi Arabia.
Playing on the interesting palms in the valley of Wadi Al-Disah.

While it was a big day of driving to get there and back to Wadi Al-Disah, it was one of the top highlights from our time in the Al Ula area. We would do the trip again in a heartbeat, so if you have the ability and endurance to sit in a vehicle for that long – don’t miss the spectacular spot of Wadi Al-Disah.

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