This page will cover what you’d want to know about going to AlSalmi to stargaze. Either you’re tagging along, or you’re going solo.
Departing to the desert:
If you’re tagging along with me, read along. Otherwise, skip to the “Drive” part.
We’ll depart from the parking lot in Saleh AlShehab High School next to Mishref CO-OP shown in the map above, it’d take us around an hour to reach our spot. The road is safe, we’ll be driving with legal speed limits (I’m an old man when it comes to driving). If you can’t make it, its alright, you can contact me and we’ll send you a link on Glympse to follow my path.
We will be in Mishref Co-op before the departure for a while, stocking up on things and having coffee.
NOTE: YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN RIDE. THERE’S NO BUS OR CARPOOLING. I mean, if you’d take a stranger with you through the trip and you agree on departure time, that’ll be terrific! But don’t bet on that please. If you can’t make it, seduce a friend with coffee and chocolate. It always works on me, so maybe it’ll work on someone.
We’ll be taking Sixth Ring Road (Or Jassem Al-Kharafi road, I can’t keep track of new street names), all exit to the 70th towards Saudi Arabia, drive all the until we see a sign that says “Saudi Arabia in 60KM”, then we’ll take the next exit to the right.
This road will be dark. But don’t worry, it’s not a problem, we’ll keep on driving for a while until we find a good spot, then we drive inside the desert for few minutes and stop.
Don’t worry about what car is capable of driving. I used to drive my junky Mitsubishi Lancer all the time, so any car could do.
Leaving the desert back to Civilization:
We usually leave by 01:00~ 02:00 (1:00am ~ 2:00am). But if you’re in a hurry, you can leave whenever you like. The road is clear and you’d probably know how to get back easily.
What to expect:
Nothing. We’re escaping the city and its light pollution so we’d go somewhere quiet and dark to enjoy the escape. There isn’t too much light pollution, so the stars would be much brighter than in the city, which means better chances to see shooting stars (I mean, THE only chance to see shooting stars).
It will be too quiet. Sometimes, too quiet for your own taste, so don’t get disoriented because of that, you’ll get used to it in a moment.
There are no animals or whatever. So don’t worry about snakes, insects, scorpions, dinosaurs, aliens, or whatever. You might hear dogs yapping in the distance, but they’re too far and they’re stray dogs, they won’t be a threat (They’d be too scared to come close. And if they did, they’d be easily fended off).
The weather there is colder than the city. And since the weather is cooling down now, it will get cold. So bring some jackets and stuff, because I personally underestimate how cold it is and I’d start shivering.
What to do and what not to do:
- Please don’t play music too loud. We’re here to enjoy the silence. If music is your thing, please use a headset or keep the volume minimal
- Please don’t practice anything illegal. Don’t do drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke weed (Or other unspeakable illegal activities). Thankfully, nothing like this happened before, and we’d love to keep it as clean so we could do it more often without any trouble.
- Minimize your need for lights. Turning on the light for few seconds would take eyes few minutes to get used to the darkness again to have a better look at shooting stars. That, and we have cameras clicking photos away, don’t ruin it for them.
- No littering please. We’re genuinely happy that we haven’t littered in any of previous trips. So let’s keep it like that.
What to bring:
- Consumables. Food, drinks, and munchies. Whatever you’d like to bring to enjoy few hours of silence in the desert
- Mats (Or carpets), chairs, an maybe a pillow to lay down and see things
- Trash bags
- Grill or coal, if you’re thinking of cooking. I personally bring coal and either grill some burgers\hotdogs, or make some tea\coffee. Or, y’know, both!
- Clothes. It’ll be cold in Winter, we all underestimate how cold it’d be. In summer, however, it’d be hot. A bit less hotter than the City, but still hot. Maybe you’d want to bring a long-sleeve shirt just in case it got a tad uncomfortable.
If you’re going to take pictures, here’s a list of what to bring:
- A camera, with shutter speed control, shooting mode control (Continuous mode), and a remote (Cabled, or wireless). If you don’t have a cable, bring a bunch of rubber bands and few papers
- Tripod. Preferably a sturdy and heavy one to defeat some winds
- Memory sticks. If you’re just taking photos, 8GB should be fine. But if you’re taking a timelapse for startrailing or something, get at least 16GB. And memory sticks just in case you forgot one.
- Charged battery. Charge it. Make sure you bring it. I always have trouble remembering this
- Lens cap. It might not sound too useful, but you’ll use it to have a black frame to register noise so you’d do some photoshop kung fu to subtract it from actual pictures’ noise.
We will be walking around helping people with their camera settings and what to do and what not to do. So don’t worry if you’re clueless, We’ll be there to help.
You can always reach me if you have any question and I’ll try to answer to my best:
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