100km from Riyadh: the African-style safari resort now open for overnight stays in Saudi Arabia

The Nofa Resort Riyadh overlooks a wildlife reserve

Giraffes, zebras and ostriches roam the golden plains as open-topped vehicles filled with travellers trundle over the sand. The tourists are on the lookout for wildlife, hoping to spot pygmy hippos, white oryx, wildebeest, impala and cheetahs.

This might sound like a scene straight from Africa, but it’s actually a little closer to home. This is what awaits anyone checking in at the Nofa Resort Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Hotel.

It is less than 100 kilometres from the Saudi capital, just off the Riyadh-Makkah Highway. The Radisson resort opened in 2018 but was previously only open to members of the hotel's loyalty programme. Now, the family-friendly hotel that overlooks Nofa Wildlife Park is open to the general public and overnight stays start from 1,710 Saudi riyals (Dh1,675).

The resort aims to give travellers the feeling of a holiday in Africa. As well as being home to several species, the wildlife park has a conservation arm – eight giraffes have been born through its breeding programme and several endangered species call the Saudi reserve home.

There are two resort pools

“We have received numerous requests from individual guests wanting to experience the beauty of this safari jewel in the Saudi desert, and we are excited that the hotel is now publicly bookable and accessible to everyone,” said Tim Cordon of Radisson Hotels.

Accommodation options at the resort include private villas or bungalows, all of which come with African-style thatched roofs and a private swimming pool and garden. There are also two resort pools, including a separate one for women. A Kids Club is on site, while adults can visit the health spa. When it comes to eating, Tswalu serves up all-day dining with an African twist and there's also an African tea room, shisha lounge and two other restaurants for guests to try.

With international travel restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic, the resort is welcoming domestic travellers from across Saudi Arabia. The kingdom announced a partial lifting of its suspension on international flights and the resort is ready to welcome guests from overseas when tourism to the country resumes.