By Mohammed Mirza
The perfect isolated spot for star gazers.
We’ve heard so many stories about Moon Valley from our friends who’ve visited the place before so we finally decided to see it for ourselves. We set off from Jeddah after Asr, but our 115-kilometer journey took quite long, as we went with a big group and faced the regular problems when you go with one; those being the frequent stops, missing out on directions and slow drivers. On top of that, our navigation app took us through a longer route, prolonging our journey.
Moon Valley is known for its unique rock formations, some of which look like they’ve been crafted by humans, but when you look closely there are no signs of chisels or pastels being used on these rocks. They have naturally formed over millions of years in such mind-boggling shapes.
I expected it to be an actual valley considering its name. I found it to be a plain desert with unique rock formations protruding out and mountains bordering the stretch of desert.
There is a narrow road that runs through it. After hovering on this road from one end to the other we found a spot that still had the last few remains of a bonfire still burning. Those glowing embers in the dark night were such a beautiful sight to see.
It wouldn’t have been more than 10 minutes since the person who lit the bonfire left. We rushed to it and got branches from desert shrubs to keep the bonfire burning. Lighting the bonfire, which was the tough part, was already done. So we just had to regularly feed the glowing ember with planks of wood and whatever we could find that burns.
When I looked up at the sky, there was a dazzling mass of stars, a truly unforgettable spectacle. I’d never seen anything like it on my travels around Saudi Arabia. It was the kind of place where one could almost see a 360° panorama of the sky.
What was even more surprising was that despite being located so close to Jeddah, the sky here was so clear, whereas in Jeddah we’d consider it a lucky day if we could count around 10 of them in the night sky.
There was hardly any light pollution whatsoever. It was completely dark. Perhaps that is what makes this area so extraordinary.
The night was moon-less, making it even darker. Everyone started sharing whatever little knowledge they had of astronomy. From spotting the Sirius to Mars – well at least thought we saw them; and our group seemed to go berserk by the findings. We even managed to spot a few constellations, including Orion’s Belt.
At a distance we were able to spot some other campers at Moon Valley, but other than them it was just us and the silence that surrounded us in the darkness. There is something about silence that we all loved. Even in the city when we think we’ve found silence, in reality we don’t – the sounds of the ticking clock, the air conditioner buzzing, the car passing down the streets are such distractions that don’t allow us to connect with the quiet. This was a totally different experience for us, so silent that we could hear the soft whisperings of the wind in our ears.
Our way back was much easier. We didn’t follow the navigation app this time around -just relied on the locals, those being the ones sitting in petrol pumps on deserted streets.
Moon Valley is a place that is a must for stargazers; a place where you can lie on the ground and just gaze at the stars for hours whilst getting lost in the beauty and silence of the desert night.NOTE: If you’re going there download a stargazing app on your phone, such as Star Chart, to have an even more fun time exploring the skies.