Yiti (Oman), 05.01.2015
This holiday season’s short trip around Oman is coming to an end, here are more impressions:
– This trip’s vehicle, a rented Mitsubishi Pajero, is boring, reliable and comfortably cruising. No action guaranteed, but also no bad surprises probably. It takes in a whopping 73l of super gasoline, that around here cost 7,900 Rial, or approx. €16!! No wonder there are so many gas guzzlers on the streets around here. A nightmare for a European electro-scooter driver. After the Range Rover experience in 2013 I was thinking a lot about the pros and cons of this car.
– The Shangri La Al Husn is, together with the Imperial Hotel in Delhi, probably the most beautiful hotel I’ve stayed in so far. Perfect until almost the very last level of detail, a beacon of tranquility and civilisation in the middle of a desert landscape. Unfortunately it looked like a lot of mountain got bulldozed away for constructing it. After all the days camping and staying in Omani hotels the Shangri La was very different.
– There are still places with no people. During Eurasia2013 I found that in pretty much every place I crossed there were always people around, even in the most remote areas. In Oman it seemed like this finding would be confirmed when during a night camping on a lonely beach in full moonlight suddenly voices were heard outside. Sneaking out of the tent I saw men on boats departing from the beach next to the tent. It was too dark to identify them. After 1h of listening and watching out the fear of a possible night-time visit went away. Then the next day, on a lonely white sand beach, with the tent on top of the dunes, I slept like a baby for 10h in a row with nobody around during the entire stay. In the morning the sun rose right over the sea, with the first rays of sunshine warming the tent. Unforgettable.
Overall the trip to Oman has been an amazing time. While cities and cuisine should not be the reasons to visit, the nature in both beauty and diversity is wonderful. The Jebel Shams with its mountains, palm oasis, dry wadis and canyons is great for off-road driving and a natural spectacle. The 1.000km ride through the desert down to Salalah was a great long haul driving experience. The wadis along the southern coast, ending in many beautiful deserted beaches were different then those in the north. Camel herding is popular there. Driving back north along the coast the beaches get wider, whiter. The few hundred kms of mountains north of Salalah are fascinating, with different types of mountain ranges, the last one looking like an oversize noisette and merengue cake landscape. The road led through stretches of desert plateau, flat land as far as the eye can see, with deep canyons in it. After that come hundreds of kms of flat desert along a marvellous coast. The Indian Ocean changes color from deep blue to turquoise all the time, with some occasional dhows cruising along the shore, while the desert includes the Wahiba Sands, a huge dune desert of fine ocre sand ending right in the ocean. The Wadi Shab was another highlight, right at the end of the trip, when the fear of tourist hordes already made me give up all hope to find something interesting to see. The walk through this green wadi was different from the dry ones seen before. The presence of pools to swim in, or even jump into from 10m rocks, was refreshing and fun. But swimming up until the very last pool, through turquoise waters, until the 30cm wide slot that leads into the final cave was an experience I’ll never forget. Of course a massage under the natural water fountain and a jump into the cave’s pool from the rock above it were part of the action.