Taif and the mountains

When you approach Taif from the East, you don’t see any mountains coming, you don’t notice any rise, but if you watch the height, you are getting higher up and up until you are at 1,700 metres in Taif. The height is what makes this town so popular. We saw many holiday parks, uncountable playgrounds for children with picknick areas, often next to busy roads with 4 lanes, and fairgrounds.

But there is also an old palace, which is or is not a museum nowadays. When we came there it was closed, not sure if it opens at another time. But the building was beautiful, so we took a picture.

Shubra Palace

Shubra Palace was built in 1905 and used by King Abdul Aziz and King Faisal as a residence when visiting Ta’if. In 1995, it was converted into a museum.

The area of Taif is famous for its roses. We didn’t see any rose farms, but we visited a producer of rose oil. At the Al Kamal Rose Factory, we met the owner, who showed us around. Even as the rose crop is nearly finished, they were still distilling some of the expensive rose oil, which is used in perfumes. A by-product is Rose Water, used to flavour food, as a component in cosmetics and medical preparations, and for religious purposes.

They are producing rose oil in the 7th generation now. At the centre of the complex stands the old distillery their ancestors used since 1877. The method was the same, just that they used wood instead of gas to heat.

He invited us for tea, flavoured with rose water, and traditional sweets. We liked the taste of the tea and now own 2 bottles of rose water so that we can prepare our own tea like that in the future.

Enjoying tea with rose water and sweets

20 km south-west of Taif is one of the highest mountains of Saudi Arabia, Jabal Daka with 2,585 metres, next to it lies the village of Ash Shafa, where we went to enjoy the view from the mountains. We found a sunset spot, popular with the locals. You can have your picknick there, ride a pony or camel and enjoy many food stalls on the weekend. (We came there during the week, and they were closed.) But the main attraction is of course the view and the Hamadryas Baboons! Especially the males with their silver-white mane were impressive.

Arabian Wheatear
Eurasian Hoopoe – it was calling for us in the morning

We spent a quiet night at that spot and enjoyed the view again in the morning. The temperate was much cooler than before, in the morning we had only 15 degrees.

Some rock slide on the way down from the mountains

From Ash Shafa we took the direct route down the mountains and past Makkah to Jeddah at the coast. The drive down the mountains was impressive, and the road was very good with almost no traffic.

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