Prepare to time travel to millions years ago and get reconnected with nature as you explore Mleiha, a spectacular archaeological and eco-tourism destination.
After living more than a decade in the Gulf region, one would think that camping in the desert would be an activity I had ticked off my list. Surprisingly, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to do so until now. The organized camp by the Mleiha Archeological Center, was definitely the best way for me to have a rustic and holistic natural experience of sleeping under the stars.
The history of Mleiha dates back to a time long ago to the Old Stone Age, 2.5 million years ago. A prominent archeological find at Mleiha that struck me was the trail of early humans from Africa, those who were believed to be passing through Arabia during their journey to Asia. A guided walk through Mleiha’s museum offered me insights into the beginning of the journey of humans on Earth, a topic that is less frequently spoken about.
The Fossil Hunting
The overnight camping activity, organized professionally by the Archeological Center, began with a short dune bashing journey to the fossil rock hill, the miniature one compared to its looming brother at a distance.
This is a destination that requires the eyes and the depth of knowledge of an expert guide. During our visit, we were fortunate to be accompanied by an expert fossil hunter who had converted his passion into his profession. The Mleiha area is a gold mine for archeologists, paleontologists and historians alike and his deep interest in the field oozed through to us, evoking a plethora of childlike wonder and curiosity.
Upon our insistence to explore the rock further in the day light, we returned the next morning with a mission. The possibility of discovering million-year-old fossils as we trekked, had the kids and the adults alike down on their knees and hands, overturning pieces of rock and stone.
Camping in the Desert
A short desert drive from the center after exploring the fossil rock, we were greeted by twinkling lights and dancing flames on sticks at the intimate camp site.
After consuming a scrumptious dinner as a group, seated around a traditional Arabian style table and cushions on carpet, we gathered around a robotic telescope set up on a dune. The stargazing session transported us from million years in the past to a million light years away, giving me a strained neck but no complaints here. After some chit chat while huddling around a warm camp fire, we retired to our comfortable tents set up in the desert for a restful night’s sleep.
The Next Morning
Hot tea/coffee welcomed us early morning, as we watched mesmerized at the sight in front of us. Dark shadows receding as the sun loomed beyond the mountains, shining against the grains of the desert sand.
With content hearts and refreshed minds, we made our drive back home from the Archaeological center.
For visitors with time constraints or other interests, Mleiha also offers other adventurous day activities, which are highly recommended by friends.
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