Day 3 – 16th April
It was a perfect start as usual. I was the first to hear the waves breaking on the shore, it was almost like a melody in the ear. The sun was already up and shining on the crystal clear water. By the time I came back from my short walk, the others were getting out of their tents. Channa had the drone out – already filming the surroundings. Bazil was making the morning coffee. The remaining Arabic bread was served with cheese and a special Sri Lankan chutney for breakfast. A quick start for the day is essential to cover as much as possible. I couldn’t resist the clean water — a quick wash much needed. Channa accidentally spilled the hot coffee on my foot with the powerful winds from the drone. Packing up was done and we were on our way out of beach we spotted a soft patch of mud. Bazil is the usual culprit to try mud but today the star was Channa.
Two tires were in soft mud and other two tires were out on an elevation on hard ground. This makes it even difficult. As we were speaking, two wheels were sinking. We assessed all possible options and decided that we will use both our vehicles to pull Channa’s car. By this time some locals also have gathered to help us. They were very kind and we gave them some chocolate to share with their families. They were a happy bunch. Finally the car was out and we were covered in mud. It was all good fun but we were behind our schedule.
On the way to Wadi Bani Khalid, our first stop was Wadi Shab. Just glance over the water and back on the road. Not much of activities other than covering the distance and pretty decent to our lunch stop was Turtle Beach Resort. We made it a point to drive there as it marks the easternmost point of Oman. Afterwards we proceeded to Wadi Bani Khalid. On the way, we saw a few off-roaders getting ready for their afternoon drive. Waves were exchanged. We could swear that we saw the Wahabi sands in the distance towards to our left hand side while driving on Highway 23. Without further delays, we drove up to the famous spot where regular wadi visitors park their vehicles and walk up to the water. The drone got a chance to capture the waterways before the sun set in. We followed a gravel road going to a village on the top of the mountain. It was dark and was difficult to find a suitable camping spot because of the rocky terrain. However with the help of some locals we found a flat spot in the backyard of a villager’s house and never knew what the spot will offer us till next day morning! More chocolate for the kids and more smiles. Again a full meal was served for dinner amidst guitar tunes and it was a treat before we said goodbye to the stars.
Also check out the hidden falls of Oman
Day 4 – 17th April
The surprise was that we were right next to the three main ponds and add to that on a high ground, we had a perfect aerial view of the water. Breakfast was courtesy of Bazil – red rice with, bean curry, potato curry and fried salmon — a perfect Sri Lankan meal. Soon after the meal we walked further up on the wadi looking for a suitable spot for a dip. Words may not be enough to explain the excitement to see crystal clear fresh water gushing through the rocks and a lovely pool ideal for the four of us. We didn’t even realize that we have spent more than two hours playing in the water. Running water is utter luxury when you are overlanding.
Packing up after a well-set camp is not easy as setting up the camp. This was a learning experience for all of us as how to arrange the vehicles with camping equipments. We were ready to go in another hour and the plan was to drive up to the Jebel Shams passing Al Hoota Cave. Later on our way we took the new highway; I think the route was longer than what we thought and we missed the shorter route. Somehow we reached Nizwa by the late afternoon. Since we skipped lunch with on-the-go snacks, we thought we will have an early dinner and settle for the short drive to Jebel Shams from Nizwa. The road constructions delayed our planes it was already dark when we left Nizwa. We drove towards to Al Hoota Cave in dark, narrow roads. Change of plans again, we reached the turn off to Al Hoota Resthouse and started driving up the hill. This road leads to Wadi Shethan and was lucky to find a nice, safe spot by the road for setting up tents right at the top of the mountain. We started feeling the winter weather at this point. As we have had a bellyful, we immediately retired to sleep.
Day 5 – 18th April
Wow… all were shocked with the weather condition and the view of the mountain range. We could have seen Jebel Shams from one side. We assumed that what we saw on the other side was Jebel Akhdar. Cheese, mushrooms, eggs and sausages were presented in a five star manner, one of the best meals served during the trip. We all knew that this is the final day and we were already planning the next trip. Next time it’s going to be longer trip. Wadi Shethan was the last leg of the trip and this leg we did more off-road than entire trip. It is an all-gravel track all the way down with mind blowing scenery. We came across few campers driving up in the morning. We passed a few small settlements: Al Hajir and Bilad Sayt. Bazil’s Cherokee suffered a flat tire and repaired it with the tools we carried along with us and after four hours of wadi driving we came out to the tarmac to Rustaq-Miskin Road. Instead of driving to Al Ain, we headed towards Hatta with hopes that we will be able to collect our Walkie Talkies but instead our vehicles were checked and we were told to come later to collect the Walkie Talkies.
It was indeed a memorable trip. It helped us to bond well. It was great opportunity to test the practicalities of the equipments we have and what we needed for the future trips were carefully discussed and noted down to improve in the future. We encourage such trips as it definitely is a different experience than checking into a hotel room and taking a dip in a chlorine-infested swimming pool. We also have to be thankful for the safety in this region that such trips can be planned without any fear. Our hearts were full with sadness that we have to be a part of a rat race from next day. We do believe that this is not the last time we will bid goodbye to Emirates Road. All in all, we encourage all to plan such long trips so you will be able to cover more and also stay safe on road, abide the local laws and regulations. Make sure you don’t litter the places you travel. Remember “All go in, must come out”
Words By: Eranga Yasas
Photos By: Channa Munasinghe