You cannot top Haya’s weekends, ever.
“Be fearless; you’ll never know if you never go!” – Haya Al Samari
Petroleum system analyst in Saudi Aramco by weekday and surfer, hiker and fearless expedition guide by weekend, Haya Al Samari is an outdoor adrenaline junkie extraordinaire.
“I’m also a certified advanced diver and part of a running team called Jude,” reminds us Al Samari.
The fun began when she started taking trips with Hussak, a group that offer exploration trips to hike the outskirts of Oman, Alaska, Mongolia and many more exciting locales. The first time she went on a trip with the group, it was a life changing experience. “The whole time, I felt like I was in a movie. I was staggered by the amount of scenery in Oman and I wondered why I haven’t been there before.”
Bewitched by the magic of her previous trip, went a second time with the group on a surprise trip where they didn’t know where they were headed. During that trip, she met the founder, Ali Husain, for the first time.
“I was actively helping fellow travelers and Ali noticed how passionate I was, so he challenged me to hike in very risky locations and I beat him every time.” From that moment, Al Samari became a part of the Hussak team. “When Ali asked me to join the team, at first I was very reluctant. I felt like I was putting myself ‘out there’ and I was worried about my family’s and my manager’s reaction. Still, in the end I made it work!”
Being in nature is Al Samari’s main motivation and driver with each trip. “I feel strange if a week passes without me going hiking in Oman. Being in nature makes you addicted to it and it makes you appreciate everything you have.”
As we listened to Al Samari talk about her experiences, we were enchanted and drawn by her energy. She told us how small in the world she felt every Saturday, when she got back home and laid in her bed staring at the ceiling, instead of lying in a sleeping bag in the mountains staring at endless starry skies.
“Every weekend in Oman, I meet people from diverse cultures where they’re all just being their bare selves because we all came for the same reason. It takes someone special to go to these trips.”
Being a guide taught Al Samari how to disentangle from everything shallow in life. It allowed her to gain the power of changing people’s lives in a short period of time. The change she sees in the travelers when they first experience these trips makes her heart flutter every time. While camping, their team might run out of food, “but when we share a meal, it tastes even better!”
One of her most remarkable trips was when she went to Mongolia during the winter with the World Wildlife Fund. Hussak was volunteering money to collect tracking collars for snow leopards with the help of the organization. An endangered species, the initiative aimed to study the lives of these animals by tracking them.
“Mongolia is a culture of people who consciously choose not to expose themselves to modernity,” said Al Samari. “It’s also got the best scenery you will ever witness!”
Along with experts from the organization, Husain, Al Samari and three other members of Hussak spent that trip going out to the wild every morning and coming back at night looking for snow leopards. Enduring many challenges, including temperatures reaching -40 degrees, Haya says it was all worth it whenever they saw a snow leopard in its natural habitat.
A particular highlight of the trip was when they stayed with a Mongolian family to learn about hunting with horses and eagles. “For a week or so, we were living in a very raw environment. We ate and drank in bowls, and had a cow peeking at us in the toilet!”
You’d think Al Samari would be exhausted and tired each week, coming back from such intensive weekends of adventuring and trekking. “When I go to work every Sunday, the tired me will just browse the photos of my weekend on my phone and regain all my energy. Every moment is worth it.”