The mercury is steadily rising, as summer is around the corner. To escape the heat we decided to head towards one of the coldest places in Saudi Arabia, Ash Shafa Village. Situated high in the Sarawat Mountain Range over 2,200 meters above sea level, it is home to many of Taif’s agricultural products and boasts of breathtaking scenery. What makes a trip to Ash Shafa ideal is its proximity to Jeddah, located at just over 200 kilometers from the coastal city.
To reach the village we decided to take the shortest and safest route, which passes through Taif, which is 30 km away from the village. Once at Taif we were on Ash Shafa Road, which leads straight to the beautiful hilltop village of the same name. Driving on the long Ash Shafa Road is an incredible experience as it runs across precipitous ascents and descents while also provides a great view of the surrounding landscape. We saw herds of monkeys along the way sitting by the roadside for their free meals. As many tourists who go past the herds stop for a while, they offer the monkeys food ranging from chips to juices.
First we went to the highest point near Ash Shafa Village. Apparently, when it is foggy you can’t even see the person next to you. Luckily, when we went there it was neither misty nor foggy, so we managed to get a great view of the stunning valleys, spectacular mountains and the scenic village down below.
Then from the highest point, we headed back towards Ash Shafa and had tea at one of the local kiosks. Hot tea in cold weather along with a great view of the mountain range felt like it was the best tea experience we ever had.
Later in the day we went hiking across a flatter portion of the mountains. Hiking boots are a must, but unfortunately for us we were in our casual shoes and therefore had a difficult time hiking. Nevertheless, it was still a fascinating experience as we enjoyed the constant gentle zephyr as we strolled through hiking tracks.
While coming back from Ash Shafa we went for a horse ride. We rode around steep hilly portions of the mountains. It was specifically thrilling while coming downhill as we felt we might topple over the cliff.
There are many farms close to Ash Shafa growing grapes, pomegranates and loads of other varieties of fruits. Some of the farmers are nice enough to allow you to visit their farms. Unfortunately, we were running late so we did not have time to visit them.
Currently, there aren’t many options in terms of decent accommodation at Ash Shafa and in order to get a decent hotel we had to head to Taif.
Finally, do not forget to check out the stalls selling fresh fruits on your way back to Jeddah, as they sell some of the best homegrown fruits at inexpensive prices compared to the city.