SAUDI ARABIA: BEHIND THE VEIL
Cultural tour of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, known by the acronym KSA, has for many years been “behind the veil”. With the exception of Muslim pilgrims, the people have had limited contacts to the nonMuslim world. This then is a historical journey that very few have done. We experience the fascinating history and sites of the Kingdom as you explore the largest nation in the Middle East and yet seldom visited by outsiders. On this eight-day tour we explore the historic architecture of Jeddah, a visit to hidden treasure Mada'in Salah, the sister city of Petra, a camel market and camel riding experience in Riyadh and much more. Above all, we will be exposed to a culture that is very different.

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Tour Information
Tour Duration : 08 days
Min. Tour Size : 12 persons
Max. Tour Size : 20 persons
Includes international air
Tour Price (from) : US$
Day 01: Arrive Jeddah
(D)
Day 02: Jeddah
(B, D)
Day 03: Jeddah/Medina (Flight)/Al Ula (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 04: Al Ula
(B, L, D)
Day 05: Al Ula/Hail (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 06: Hail/Riyadh (Flight)
(B, D)
Day 07: Riyadh
(B, D)
Day 08: Depart Riyadh
(B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: Arrive Jeddah

Our unique journey begins as we arrive at the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia. We are warmly received and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs. Balance of the day is free. Evening we will join our guide for dinner and get to know more about the country and its people with the first taste to the Saudi cuisine.
Overnight: Red Sea Palace Hotel, Jeddah (2 nights) (D)

Day 02: Jeddah

Our KSA experience starts with a tour of the old city of Jeddah*, famous for its ornate wooden windows and colorful market. We visit El Beit Nassif (Prince Nassif House), one of the finest traditional houses Jeddah, which now serves as a museum and cultural centre. Next we visit the well-stocked Abdul Rauf Khalil Art Museum. (B, D)

Day 03: Jeddah/Medina (Flight)/Al Ula (Drive)

Early morning transfer for our flight to Medina (Madinah). This city got it’s name from the famous refuge that Prophet Muhammad undertook when his own people started acting against him as he started preaching the message of Islam. From the airport we drive north via Khaybar (Khyber), having lunch en route. It was at Khaybar that Charles Doughty, the famous author of "Travels in Arabia Deserta", spent four months in captivity. His comb, books and compass were all investigated. We will also explore the Acropolis, which is situated atop a rocky prominent overlooking the oasis of date palms and the old town of Khaybar. Visits to Khaybar are subject to permits. As we travel north, we parallel the Hijaz region where Ottoman Turks built the Hijaz railway line. Originally a railway line existed only between Constantinople and Damascus. To continue to Makkah, pilgrims had to travel by camel caravan, which took two months. Once the line from Damascus to Medina was completed in 1908 the journey time was reduced to three days. Financial assistance for this railway line came from all over the Arab and Islamic world and it took 7,000 men to lay the sleepers and rail tracks. This track not only helped pilgrims, but also followed the path of the historical Frankincense trails from Wadi Hadhramaut in Yemen. Caravans traveling this route carried spices from the Indies, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, gold from the Kingdom of Saba, and frankincense and myrrh bound for the churches of Rome and the Pharaohs of Egypt. The cameleers transporting these goods were guided from well to well by the Nabataeans, who took 25 percent of the value of their goods in exchange for safe passage.
Overnight: Arac Hotel, Al Ula (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 04: Al Ula

We spend another interesting day visiting Mada’in Salah*, which is a sister city to Petra and the ancient capital of the Nabataeans. In 1876 Charles Doughty in 1876 was granted permission by the Turks to travel with a camel caravan of pilgrims on route to Makkah. Unlike Petra, Doughty discovered Mada’in Salah and found that there were inscriptions over many of Mada’in Salah’s doorways.  Using wet blotting paper, he took imprints, which were sent to Paris. Later, these were discovered to be tomb deeds dating between 100BC and 75AD. We visit the various tombs, including the tomb of Qasr Al Farid, a spectacular structure carved from one piece of rock standing alone in the desert, and Al Diwan, the main site of worship. Mada'in Salah flourished between 100BC and 100AD and grew rich on the caravan trade that passed through from the incense-growing regions of southern Arabia. The Nabataeans were a Semitic people, formerly nomadic, who wrote in an early form of Arabic script. The tombs are on a monumental scale, similar to those at Petra but with more eastern influence in the design of their facades. There are lions, snakes and roses embossed on some tombs. In the Koran, Mada'in Salah is referred to by its Arabic name Al Hijr. The book tells of how it was destroyed because the people here worshiped false gods.
Next to the Mada’in Salah railway station is Qaal’at Al Hijr, a relatively new caravanserai. These were built for pilgrims who traveled on camel caravans to Mecca to rest for the night. Caravanserai is a Persian word literally meaning 'Inn'. It was usually built in an oasis with a courtyard in the center. Off the courtyard are arches that would lead through to the various quarters that housed camels and livestock for the night. Alongside would be blacksmiths, coppersmiths and bakers. On the second level were the sleeping quarters. The Mada’in Salah Railway station is the largest and most complete of all stations in Saudi Arabia. There are several buildings here, including the main workshop and a small fort to accommodate 25 men. Also part of the complex are underground stores for explosives, a water tower, a Rheinland locomotive and four Belgian-made carriages. The Hijaz Railway line became well known from the writings of T. E. Lawrence “of Arabia”, the archaeologist turned flamboyant desert warlord. During World War I, Turkey sided with the Germans and wanted control of the Suez Canal. The British, French and Arabs of the Hijaz, under the Hashemite King Sherief Hussein, prevented this by staging attacks on the line to stop the Turks from accessing the desert kingdom and the Red Sea. During this period, Saudi Arabia was still divided and was governed by princes in the different provinces. It was unified as late as in 1932 by King Abdulaziz the patriarch of the Saudi dynasty. (B, L, D)

Day 05: Al Ula/Hail (Drive)

Today we take a desert drive to Hail, which is in the heart of the Najd.  The Al Rashid family of Hail was once the ruling family in Saudi Arabia. Here we will have a lunch of traditional foods from the region in an old adobe style house. Next we start our tour of the old city of Hail by visiting the historic fort of I’raif, situated in a prominent position overlooking the city with a commanding view of the surrounding desert and mountains. From here we continue to view the Al Qashla Palace, an old two-story structure of adobe architecture.
Overnight: Golden Tulip Hotel, Hail (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 06: Hail/Riyadh (Flight)

Transfer to the airport for our flight to Riyadh, the capital of KSA and the most populated city in Saudi Arabia. Upon arrival, we are met and transferred to the hotel.  In the evening, we visit the largest camel market in Asia, not only seeing how the Cadillac’s of the desert are bought and sold, but also getting the opportunity to ride on one.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Meydan Hotel, Riyadh (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 07: Riyadh

We start our tour of Riyadh with a visit to the National Museum situated in the downtown area, close to the old city of Riyadh. The museum displays the various artifacts from the Kingdom's archaeological finds, its history, Islam and modern day Saudi Arabia. It gives us an excellent insight into the country and its people. After lunch, we visit the Muraba Palace. It was built in 1926 by King Abdulaziz when his old palace was no longer able to accommodate his growing household and administrative staff. At the time, the palace lay about one mile north of the old walled city of Riyadh. King Abdulaziz moved into the palace in 1938 and this was the beginning of Riyadh's expansion. On the first floor is the royal suite of receptions, or majlis. (B, D)

Day 08: Depart Riyadh

After an exciting journey covering the most well known kingdom but yet behind the veil, we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight home. Check out time is by 1100 hrs. Optional extension available. (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Departure Dates
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).

2018

Feb 05 & Mar 29

Tour Price

We accept payment in US $ (US Dollars), CA $ (Canadian Dollars) or equivalent EURO (for clients outside North America). Bestway Tours & Safaris offers conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received, and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here

Departure(s) Per Person on Twin Sharing Single Room Supplement
Feb 05 & Mar 29, 2018 US$ 3890 US$ 590


Notes

Due to changing local rules, tour itinerary is subject to change without notice.



Inclusions


Tour Price Includes
  • Accommodation as mentioned or similar, including hotel taxes
  • Domestic airfares: Jeddah/Madina – Hail/Riyadh (Currently priced at US$ 190)
  • 18 Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing and transfers by private transportation
  • Services of a local English speaking guide/tour escort
  • Entrance fees to museums and sites included in the itinerary
  • Bottled water during touring
Not Included
  • International airfares
  • Insurance/ KSA visa and permit fees
  • Tips/gratuities

Estimated International Airfare (International airfare is NOT included in this tour)

CANADA(West Coast)
US$ 1600

USA(West Coast)
US$ 1600

CANADA(East Coast)
US$ 1400

USA(East Coast)
US$ 1400

Participants

This tour operates on a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 participants

Customised Itinerary

If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.

Contact Info
You may e-mail us at bestway@bestway.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.