Taif: City of Natural Delights
While Taif is known as the City of Roses, flowers are not the only attraction the city has to offer: from mountain ranges to nature reserves and parks, Taif has an abundance of delights for nature lovers, and a tempting array of produce to sample. And in the summer months it has another not-so-secret charm – a temperate climate, milder than most of the rest of the Kingdom that allows you to get out and enjoy its exquisite natural beauty.
Experiencing nature is one of the key elements of the inaugural “Taif Season – a 30-day festival, held under the “Saudi Seasons” umbrella, designed to position Taif as the ‘Arab Summer Resort’ destination of choice for local and international visitors. Throughout August with a range of quality events and activities are taking place, putting the spotlight on Taif’s plentiful natural charms.
Unsurprisingly, roses are a key theme throughout the festival, reflecting their importance to the city. In the picking season, around 70,000 roses are gathered every day, and they are used to create a wide range of products, from perfume to rose water, soap, skin moisturizers and an array of therapeutic and relaxing products. Pure rose oil requires thousands of roses to produce a tiny bottle, and may sell for several thousand dollars an ounce.
Village of Roses
To highlight roses contribution to local culture – and to give visitors sensory delights – the Village of Roses is one of the main centres of Taif Season. Featuring eight sections, the Village of Roses is open throughout the festival, and will provide visitors with information about the history of Taif roses, their plantation and distillation and stages, and the products that can be made from them – all in in educational and entertaining format.
To enter the Village of Roses, you need to walk through the Rose Gate – a giant gate of beautiful roses, designed to prepare you for what’s to come. Inside the village itself, exhibitions and workshops give you more information about different aspects of rose growing and production, with a Garden of Crafts allowing visitors to experience how roses are turned into products such as candles, soap, perfume and more. The Village of Roses Market allows visitors to purchase a wide range of rose-themed goods, and take them home to enjoy. Shows such as the Rose Orchestra and the Rose Parade – both of which are performed six times a day – fuse music and roses to create a feast for the senses. And for those that want a literal feast, the Village of Roses also features a range of restaurants and coffee shops that offer delicious Taif rose-flavored delicacies, from ice cream to rose tea, and more.
In terms of produce, Taif is known for its wide variety of fruits, with berries, pomegranates, grapes, dates, peaches, watermelons and more all being available on fruit stalls in the local souks. A fruit market will be open throughout Taif Season, selling a selection of seasonal produce, including pomegranates, figs and grapes.
More intrepid nature-lovers of course want to experience nature first-hand, and this is where Taif’s famously cement summer weather is so beneficial. With temperatures considerably below other parts of Saudi Arabia in summer, Taif really is a year-round destination, with both the Al Shafa and Al Hada mountains being popular tourist destinations.
A popular destination in the region is the 10,000 sq-metre Daka Mountain Park. Located on the peak of Al-Shafa Mountain, the park provides some of the most stunning views of the local mountain range, with tourists able to participate in activities such as camel rides, or hiring 4WD sand buggies. There are barbecue and picnic facilities, and a selection of places to stay in.
Al-Hada Mountain is well-known for the baboons that live on the sides of its highways. Often fed by locals, the baboons are used to humans and relatively tame. Al-Hada Mountain is also famous for its cable car ride – the largest in the entire Middle East, which provides absolutely fantastic views of the scenery of Taif’s mountains.
Throughout Taif Season, a range of hiking excursions are available every day, allowing visitors to trek across the stunning local landscapes, with participation by top international adventurers. Intrepid hikers can choose one of three distinct experiences, over different types of terrain, including the stunning mountains.
Taif has something to offer nature-lovers of all types, from those that want to experience the serene beauty of the Taif roses, through gourmands, and explorers who want to immerse themselves in nature and feel the raw ground beneath their feet. Taif Season is showcasing the best that Taif has to offer – so come along and enjoy its wonderful beauty!