10 August 2014

Wahba Crater or Makla Tamiah - near Taif

We visited the Wahba Crater in the late afternoon last March and it was a truly amazing sight. The Wahba Crater is situated about 250 kilometres away from Taif and is an enormous crater, two kilometres in diameter, eleven kilometres in circumference and roughly 250 metres deep and is located on the western edge of the Harrat Kishb basalt plateau and is the largest volcanic crater in the Middle East. There are two theories of how the crater was formed; one theory is that it was created by a meteorite impact as its appearance resembles that of other meteorite craters with a circular form and high sides. Most geologists, however, now agree that an underground volcanic explosion led to the formation of the crater, when steam was generated by molten magma coming into contact with groundwater. An ash cone lies to one side of the carter that is the only thing left from the original volcano that is in an area that was formally very active volcanically with the surrounding sandy plain made of volcanic ash. The crater is an amazing sight, not only due to its large size but also because of its pearly white bottom that was once a lake, but is now covered with a thick crust of sodium phosphate crystals. Local folklore says that originally the crater was a female mountain. She saw and fell in love with a male mountain from Hail and flew off to join her male companion in Hail leaving a large crater behind. Mansur AL Fahad commented that the most famous name for the place is Makla Tamiah with Makla in  meaning in Arabic the place where something was removed and Tamiah meaning in Arabic a mountain on the road to  Madinah to the west of Gassim. It is possible to descend the crater and it should not take more than thirty minutes to go to the bottom and although going down is not really difficult, the path is quite loose at certain places, so be careful and make sure to wear proper shoes.