Cruisin' in Oman
One of my recent favourite songs is telling: I'm treading all roads, and there's stories to be told, I tell you it's a beautiful life. And it is. Every day is something special and being away from home is sometimes painful, but on the other side challenging and full with joy, colors and new friends.
Recently I came back from 1 month in Oman. I've been there several times already, and I must say, that this gulf country has a part of my heart, despite being hot and humid. New friends, among the old ones, culture and history, implemented in the modern style with sense, great outdoors of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams, vast sand of the Wahiba desert and I even had an experience of the Al Khaluf Sugar Dunes, which are quite tricky to drive to, but amazing to stay there overnight.
Enough talking, there is a story in images to be told.
Oman is a desert country. And big part of the desert is area called "Al Rub al Khali" on the south. The dunes and the light in the early morning was very moody. Magenta touch was not added in the post-processing, it was a bit enchanced. Rub al Khali is the second biggest sand "erg" in the world and covers majority of the Oman's Empty Quarter, the part, which separate Omani people of the other Arabic tribes on Arabic Peninsula. Close to it, there is a place called Ubar, for which they say it was a an Arabic Atlantida, wealthy city, known about it's trade of frankinscence, which got struck by Gods hand for being everything that human society rejects.
In someways, you feel you are standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon in the states. The geomorphology of the southern part of Oman is absolutely amazing. Wadi Shuwaymiyah is impressive from the viewpoint. No vegetation for miles is the reason why all the rocks get washed away and the erosion is so strong, you can find a whole world of imaginative creatures everywhere you look.
Tricky sand is a part of the country. Advantage of being born there is that you have desert driving put in your cradle. But the sticky sand of the Al Khaluf Sugar dunes can be a tough one even if you drive a powerful Landcruiser. Being in rush does not help at all. Soon, your wheels start to sink and more you try, lower it gets. Reducing air pressure from the tyre is one of techniques that you start with, if your low 4x4 and diff locks don't help anymore. If that doesn't help, it is handy to have 4 other cars that can pull you out. But the morning in the sugar dunes is worth it.
40% of people in Oman is not Omani. They come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. And they are extremely friendly and part of the culture for more than 2 centuries, while the Oman Imamate was an important empire in the Indian ocean, having their lands from Zanzibar, Mozambique, Tanzania and up north through the African horn and Yemen all the way to the gulf and Pakistan shores. People from all over, came to Oman for better life. Majority of them found it. And Omani respect them as well. Still majority of them are or become muslims. Such as the Bangladesh holy man I had an opportunity to portrait in one of the near the road mosques on the way.
Wahiba is a special sand land for everyone. Staying there overnight is an amazing experience even for those, who dont like camping. The camps offer enough luxury for small money. Not five star, but million star hotel, no matter how cliche can it sound.
If you are crazy enough, you can even go for the sandboarding in the morning.
Tiny villages on the way to the mountains tell you the story of the history and how hard it was, to make the desert land green. With the help of Falaj, the irrigation systems, they brought the water from the Jebel Akhdar - the green mountain, which has at least a bit of rain through the year and planted palm trees. Date palms, to be correct. And area around Nizwa is known about the dates and it's products. Some villages still live from the date production, some of them were abandoned and are a memorial of rich and turbulent times.
Anyway, the mountains of Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar are total wilderness. The views of Wadi Ghul are something you can memorize till the end of your life. Balcony trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the Middle East, which takes you to an abandoned village right under the top of the Jebel Shams. Breathtaking views, not for those, who are afraid of the heights.
Offroad is a part of their life there. Not every road is paved. But some offroads are better then the others. If I have to, I would pick the Wadi Bani Awf road. It takes you from Al Hamra through the mountains and on the other side on the panoramic, narrow road with amazing views. In the middle of the mountains, palms, falajs and falling rocks, near the village of Bilad Sayt, you see proper mirage. In the middle of nothing, there is a football field with artificial english grass. I was told, Audi built this for the community, while presenting the Q7 on this road. I hope the car made it.
Snake canyon is a canyoning mecca. Even though you need a proper equipment and possibly a guide to go through, you can still enter at the beginning and find some nice pools and rocks to wander around. In the morning it is charming.
And you finish in Muscat, the pearl of the Oman. The most developed city and the metropola of the country. The city of Sultan Qaboos. And his mosque. One of the biggest in the area. And the world.
And everything was made possible with the friends. Younis, Aamar, Ahmad, Qasem, Khalid, Hilal, Mohammed, Khalid Almeer and Ahmed. And not to forget my dearest friend Shahab al Ramadani.
In October 2020, we are planning to organize the workshop in the Jebel Akhdar and Shams mountains, Muscat, Nizwa and Wahiba sands. There will be limited space on the tour, two Land cruisers which means minimum 3 and maximum 7 participants on the workshop. No pre-knowledge needed. We will stay in nice hotels, close to the best spots for photographs. If interested, call us up, or stay tuned.