Saudi Arabia Opens Its Doors To U.S. Tour Company
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosts millions of visitors each year, as the religious faithful make their pilgrimage to Mecca—but the country rarely opens its doors to Western tourists.

Mountain Travel Sobek has just announced a new guided tour to Saudi Arabia, one of the only ways to visit the country as a tourist. Saudi Arabia typically only issues visas for those on business trips or with family in the kingdom, although Mountain Travel Sobek has previously offered limited trips.

The tour will be lead by the company’s CEO Kevin Callaghan, as well as Saudi Arabia expert and guide, Brid Beeler, who will lead a small number of adventurers on a guided tour of the secret wonders that lie behind Saudi Arabia’s borders.

Destinations will include a tour of the largest sand desert in the world, the Rub' al Khali, a trip to a date palm oasis, and a visit to the archaeologically rich city of Al Ula, a 2,000-year old ghost town on the former Incense Road, an important channel of trade between India, Egypt, and the Arabian nations.

Visitors will also get a chance to see Mada’in Saleh, a World Heritage Site closely related to the Jordanian archaeological wonder, Petra. The ancient city dates back to 1 B.C., and stood at the Nabatean crossroads and its citizens controlled the trade as caravans carried frankincense, myrrh, salt, gold, spices, and silks along its roads. Elephant Rock, a giant rock that lives up to its name, stands guard nearby.

The tour will also include a chance to explore Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital and largest city, with visits to the Murabba Palace, the clay and mud brick Fort Masmak, the National Museum, and of course the city’s souks filled with handmade carpets, oud dealers, golden swords, and the merchants chattering away.

The tour is scheduled for Dec. 1-9, 2016. While the cost isn’t cheap at $11,195, it's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to an amazing destination. More information is available on Mountain Travel Sobek's website.