Odyssey : a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
I don’t know what Bahrain looked like 100 yrs ago, but I’m sure the phrases “shitty desert wasteland” were muttered by some people. In fact, once you leave the environs of the ridiculously overbuilt Manama City, you’ll see a lot of wasteland, arid desert and sparse foliage … which makes sense in the desert. In the vast wasteland, I can only imagine how much of a wonder that the “Tree of Life” looked like.
Trinis aren’t really impressed by trees … because in case you didn’t know … we have a lot of trees and flora in the islands. All that abundant rainfall and soil kinda helps. You might also know that deserts aren’t the place you think of for lush verdant foliage. When driving out of Manama City, you’re going to see a lot of this …
This is why the tree stands out so much. In all that wasteland, I can imagine seeing this tree and thinking what a wonder it was to see such a large tree just growing out there in the wilderness. To the Trinidadian eye, the mystery status of the Tree of Life in Bahrain is somewhat exaggerated – but this tree does look magnificent against the harsh desert. It stands alone, on top of a 25-foot-high sandy hill, at the highest point in Bahrain, miles away from another natural tree and with no apparent source of water. It’s known as the “Tree of Life” due to the very fact that the tree stands amidst a hot and dry desert with no known water source feeding, which truly represents the magic of life and the power of nature.
Here is some quasi-official information about the tree
- The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat) in Bahrain is approximately 400 year-old, 9.75 m (32 ft) high Prosopis cineraria
- The tree stands on top of a 7.6 m (25 ft) high sandy tell that formed around a 500-year-old fortress.
- The tree is a local tourist attraction, as it is the only major tree growing in the area.
- The tree is visited by approximately 50,000 tourists every year and the tree often is damaged by graffiti carvings.
Here is another fact …
There is little @%@%#@%#% information or directions on how to get to the tree yourself … which is why it was an Odyssey. It took my mileage running friend Paul and I, almost two hours to find the tree. There are very few directions to anything in Bahrain, except the Bahrain International Circuit. You cannot miss the BIC, but anything else will be a crap shoot to find. I would suggest that you rent a 4X4 for your day trip in Bahrain … we were driving around through sand dunes and if you get stuck out there, it’s going to be a seriously crappy day for you.
How to Get there:
“To reach the tree, take the Zallaq Highway heading east, which becomes the Al-Muaskar Highway. You will eventually see a sign for the Tree of Life indicating a right turn. (Although the sign seems to point you to turn onto a dirt road which actually goes nowhere, do not do so, instead wait until the next intersection which is several metres ahead). There are no signs as you travel down this road, but pay attention to a scrap metal yard on your right. Before you reach a hill which warns you of a steep 10% incline, take a right. As you continue straight down this road (including roundabouts), you will begin to see Tree of Life signs again. The signs will lead you down a road which will then be devoid of these signs, but you will eventually see the tree in the distance on the right (it is large and wide, not to be mistaken for other smaller trees along the way). You turn onto a dirt path at Gas Well #371. You can drive up to just outside of the tree, but make sure you stay on the vehicle-worn path, as turning off of it is likely to get your car stuck in the softer sand.”
If you’re wondering … we saw two signs on the entire island pointing the way … There are none showing the way directly from Manama. Be warned!