David Colturi of the USA dives from a cliff at Wadi Lajab during a Red Bull Cliff Diving adventure in Saudi Arabia on February 29, 2024.

In the run-up to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2024, Catalin Preda from Romania and America’s David Colturi have become the first people to dive into the wadis of Saudi Arabia in a hike and dive experience through the rough and rugged natural landscape of Jazan province.

Set against the unique backdrop of the Wadis Lajab and Al-Rough in the kingdom’s Jazan province, the Romanian American duo explored the canyons, deep valleys, waterfalls and freshwater ponds deep enough to host fish and some incredible cliff dives.

In the short off-season between the rescheduled 2023 season finale at the end of January in New Zealand and the beginning of the new season at the end of May, Preda, a two-time World Series stop winner, was in awe of the Saudi Arabian cliff search experience.

β€œIt was beautiful to see the majesty and the special nature of these particular spots. Arriving at the locations was absolutely mind blowing, seeing what they actually look in real life, only having seen a couple of pictures. Having to really test the space out and check all the conditions and determine whether it was achievable, what we travelled here to do.”

At 2.15 million square kilometres in size, Saudi Arabia’s arid climate means it’s the world largest country devoid of rivers, lakes or areas of lush natural vegetation due to very little rainfall. The cliff divers had to embark on an expedition to discover hidden pools for their diving adventures.

In Jazan, the agricultural heartland of the country and an area that is noted for its high-quality production of fruits, they found what they were looking for in the form of two wadis that deliver fresh water as well as some dramatic viewpoints. For the cliff divers, this also meant interesting rock formations and unique take off spots.

β€œIn Wadi Al Rough, there’s a slanted cliff, and so you’ve got to work your way up and stand on a little bit of an angle, but decent footing. Then in Wadi Lajab, it’s a lot more contained. You’ve got the boulder rock, you’ve got the slanted wall with the 13-metre take offs, and then you’ve got the high perch around 20-metre, 34-year-old Colturi said, describing the dives themselves as the most difficult challenge.

β€œFrom the 15 years that I’ve been in cliff diving, it was such a unique and cool opportunity to do our art form in such a beautiful location.”

Five days in Saudi Arabia wrapped after climbing, hiking, bouldering, scrambling, diving, diving far, diving close, small landing spots, beautiful wadis, green vegetation, raw rugged desert with dry rocks and all kinds of flora and fauna. Not forgetting the monkeys, donkeys, camels, and bats flying over the wadi at night.

As they headed back to prepare for the 15th season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series this summer, Preda summed up their Arabian adventure: β€œA trip full of discoveries and trials from the very beginning. Some battle scars as well, but a truly memorable experience.”

Look out for the compelling documentary showcasing the little-explored nature of Saudi Arabia and access to places you’ve never seen before on Red Bull TV from 1 April 2024

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