Wild landscapes and ancient history

Explore Soudah

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At 3,000 meters, perched on the side of Saudi Arabia’s highest mountain, the juniper-covered Soudah is the unofficial outdoor adventure capital of Saudi Arabia. Part of the vast Asir National Park, with its network of hiking routes, this is an area of cool mountain air, wild nature and mist-cloaked valleys. While hiking and guided camping trips are quintessential activities, this is also an area of ancient tribal culture — especially at the historic village of Rijal Almaa west of Soudah. Here, the annual Flowerman Festival showcases the culture of the indigenous Aseri tribe, including the men wearing flower wreaths as headdresses.

When in Soudah, go and explore

  • Blocky stone buildings against blue sky

    Rijal Almaa

    Clustered in the shadows of the mountains, the spectacular Rijal Almaa was historically an important stop for merchants and pilgrims travelling north to Makkah and Medina. The blocky stone buildings with brightly colored shutters are still mostly populated by members of the Aseri tribe, known for their vibrant outfits and floral crowns. A museum in one of the ancient forts tells the story of the village, which is in the process of being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

  • Sun shining over valley of national park

    Asir National Park

    Consisting of 4,500-sq km stretching all the way to the Red Sea coast, this was Saudi Arabia’s first national park when it opened in 1980. The area around Soudah is all about hiking trails over misty, sweeping valleys pocked with little villages and stepped fields, with lots of campsites, picnic spots and lookouts. Look up for glimpses of the eagles and griffon vultures that cruise the air currents, or to spot the migratory birds that regularly pass through.

  • Zip wire through mountain top mist

    Adventure trips

    Soudah is the home of endless outdoor activities. Just coming up on the cable car, high above the mountain slopes, feels like an adventure in itself. The most popular activity is to hike into the national park, ideally with a local guide, but the area also offers mountain biking tours, horse riding trips and tandem paragliding over the valleys. The night sky here is unobscured by light pollution and on a clear night, it’s an excellent place to camp and stargaze, with an array of constellations visible overhead.

Recommendations

  • Where to eat
    Roadside stalls and traditional local restaurants line the mountain road into Soudah. Dine the traditional way by picnicking in the hills, taking in the panoramic views.
  • Learn More
    Go Zahid’s tours of the Arabian Highlands include the slopes of Soudah, as well as the hanging village of Al Habala in nearby Abha.

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