An Interview with Adventure Extraordinaire Mashael Alsolai.
Saudi Arabia is filled with natural wonders. Truly, the amount of geological and biological diversity is astounding—perhaps even overwhelming. With so many options, who better to provide the best advice than one of the Kingdom’s top adventurers: Mashael Alsolai, founder of Shamal Adventures. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to ask her all the questions you need the answers to:
How did you get into adventuring?
Since I was young, I have always had a passion for outdoor activities and adventures. As I grew up, I started joining a few family trips on a casual basis. With time, I realized that it really interests me and I started seeking these activities during my free time.
What was your most memorable adventure, and with who?
Once, my husband and I were in the Tabuk region and had a flight to catch. Pressed for time, we had two options: take the normal road, which would take 2.5 hours, or take a shortcut through a rough sandy desert. Though it is advised to take at least two vehicles to cross areas like this (since phone signals are unavailable), we embarked with only one car. We had to follow a compass and the road was around 50km of cross-country desert. It was an extreme adventure with few obstacles throughout, yet we eventually made it on time.
What is your most striking camping experience?
Honestly, many adventures are memorable. However, one that strikes my attention was my trip to Al Gharameel in AlUla where I witnessed the clearest sky and stars i have ever seen.
What is your favorite destination you have traveled to?
The future city, NEOM.
It is very rich in its natural resources where it combines both sea and desert, which are both beautiful. The landscapes and valleys are breathtaking. It is a neverending natural treasure.
What is the first place you ever camped and with who?
In Saudi, it was Harrat Alshaggah, near Umluj in Tabuk with a couple of my friends.
If you could camp anywhere, where would it be?
That would be on a sandy island named Um Al Malik, near Umluj, Red Sea.
What favorite camp site would you recommend to anyone?
Al Sultaniya, Haql.
What’s the most unique local camping experience?
Abha, in between the valleys and waterfalls.
What about the best hike?
Wadi Al Disah, Tabuk
Best adventure overall?
Rappelling, diving, and paragliding, all in Saudi Arabia.
Favorite camping activity?
Cooking, stargazing, and watching the moon.
What’s your next adventure?
As a Shamal Adventures founder, adventures are part of my daily job and routine. So I’m going wherever Shamal takes me! #LetsGoPlaces
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 2030, I see myself and Shamal Adventures celebrating our successes in the tourism sector along with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
What is a camping product you can’t live without, and why?
Fire, to cook, stay warm, maintain light, and offer protection.
What differentiates camping here from other places?
Nature here is virgin and untouched which makes it a priceless experience.
What’s the best local camping snack?
The local fruits of the area.
How easy is it to approach random people/fellow campers/locals while camping?
Very easy, you’ll feel the connection and synergy straightaway.
What advice do you have for any inexperienced campers?
Always choose your camping spot before sunset and be aware of your surroundings. Also, make sure you leave the place as it was—or better.
What’s the one thing that anyone camping in Saudi should know?
Ensure you get the right permit before you camp from the nearest center or Coast Guard office around you.
Favorite sleeping bag?
The North Face
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid Goretex