A dip into the desert

Adventure trip to Wahba Crater aims to raise willpower of breast cancer victims


Saudi Gazette

THE Qimmam Club is a grouping of young Saudis who focus on promoting outdoor activities in Saudi Arabia. Recently, the club organized a trip to the famous Wahba Crater as part of programs to increase awareness on breast cancer in society.

The trip, one of the activities organized in association with cancer societies in Saudi Arabia in October to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, was meant to give afflicted women the strength and courage to beat the disease.

For many, the trip was a journey beyond imagination into the deep deserts of Saudi Arabia, surrounded by remarkable mountains, away from pollution and the rumblings of the city.

An astonishing destination for adventurers, Al-Wahba is one of the largest craters in the Middle East region.

Masarat Club, along with a group of Saudi women from Zahra Breast Cancer Association, participated in this adventure trip. All the participants gathered in Taif, from where they started moving toward the Al-Wahba mountains, north of the city.

The participants went all the way down into the bottom of the crater, living an unforgettable experience beneath the magnificent mountains and enjoying the marvelous sights that bore witness to the greatness of nature.

“Al-Wahba crater is a spectacular and wonderful sight of a sort that I have never thought would exist in Saudi Arabia. My thanks to Qimmam Club for bringing me to this magical place, which is beautiful and amazing. We should not go abroad regularly for sightseeing, because we have a lot to see here in the Kingdom. The community should invest more in these sights,” said Nesreen Khalifa, one of the participants in the trip.

Lena Alameel, another participant, took the initiative to preserve the environment by clearing the crater of garbage.

“I feel responsible toward nature. I am cleaning the place because I can’t just walk away from the garbage that I see even on the road. I think it is important for every human to build this sense of responsibility toward our planet,” Alameel said.

The main goal of the trip was to increase breast cancer awareness and give victims the strength to beat this disease. Also the trip aims at highlighting the role of sports in boosting the level of health and fitness throughout the community.

Hala Alshoail, founder of Zahra Ambassadors, which is a group of volunteers affiliated to Zahra Breast Cancer Association, said, “We are here today to inform the women around the Kingdom that breast cancer is not deadly, but early detection is important. The earlier it is detected, the better and the most likely it is cured. As we mustered the strength to come down and climb up Al-Wahba crater today, women affected by breast cancer should have the strength to hike up and beat the disease.”

Zahra is a nonprofit group that aims to increase awareness on breast cancer in the community and support and embrace victims.

Qimmam Club, which organized the trip, is a group of talented hikers and enthusiastic mountain climbers. It was initiated in 2014 as the first Saudi club to attract enthusiasts and professionals with the aim of promoting and developing adventures sports in the Kingdom. It also sought to bring together the lovers of adventure sports under an umbrella so that they can share individual experiences, prepare and train newcomers to the field and offer mutual assistance within the Kingdom and abroad.

Amr Khalifa, a founding member of Qimmam Club, told Saudi Gazette during the trip: “Our aim is to spread a culture of sporting adventures among the public. We want to create a community of enthusiasts who will add value to adventure sports in the Kingdom, in turn energizing adventure tourism, which is an essential part of any tourism program. We aim to spread the culture of sports within the community and we want to be the main reference for adventure sports in the Kingdom.”

Al-Wahba crater, known among locals as “Maqla Tamia”, is about 250 kilometers away from Taif city. With a diameter of two kilometers and a depth of 380 meters, the bottom of the crater is covered with crystals of white sodium phosphate salt.

Geologists thought a meteor that hit the area thousands of years ago led to the creation of the crater, but new studies indicate that it was formed by volcanic activity.

The crater is a unique and beautiful sight, which amazes the visitor. A great monument to nature’s calm, it offers a spectacular opportunity for hikers and mountain climbers. Visitors can experience the adventures of a nomad deep inside the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

One of the participants in the trip was a vice consul at the US Consulate in Jeddah. Khatijah Corey expressed her happiness in joining the team. “This trip was a really a good opportunity to see a different part of Saudi Arabia that I had never seen before,” she said, adding that the journey epitomized the work done by Saudi women volunteers to raise breast cancer awareness.

“I think group physical activity really helps keeping people together, especially when you encourage people to get back and keep going; it was really a wonderful trip. The Wahba crater looks so ancient and really cool,” Corey added.