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Published: January 25th 2012
At last I have found a coffee shop which does wif fi - I am back in Dubai but here goes with the report on my last couple of days in Oman ... it's a bit long but you will see why....
After the visit to the fort I was off again – driving myself from Muscat through the mountains to the coast at Sur and then on to the turtle reserve at Ras al Jinz. This was a journey of about 250 km and well done Oman for such brilliant roads.
The geology of the country here is fantastic with a a huge range of different rock types and ages from ancient to relatively recent in geological terms. So what a lot of dynamite must have gone into blasting the way through these mountains to make the road (mostly dual carriageway). You pass through valleys, up over passes and feel like you are at the top of the world of a massive plateau with peaks all around you. Then it’s sweeping down to the coast and you drive with eroded cliffs and the bright turquoise blue ocean on one side and towering mountain chains on the other. Cutting
through the mountains are huge wide flat wadis – dry river beds- and sometimes steep sided wadis fringed with palms with the road passing over high bridges.
So as you can see this was an amazing drive and not too much traffic at all so easy to look around and take it all in.
Passing through a couple of towns and villages it was a great help to have the SatNav and of course at times I needed to have faith that it was steering me in the right direction as it took me down side streets on unpaved roads - as I watched out for goats and donkeys and the occasional camels.
So at last I reached the hotel at the Turtle Research Centre- this was built recently and is a rather strange building which blocks the entrance to the beach like a huge gateway. It was clean and modern if a bit of a strange design and the staff ready to please. The plan was to have dinner (only 3 people in the dining room!!) and then at 9.30pm the guide takes you down to the beach. By that time other folk had turned up
and about 30 of us trooped down to the beach in the dark of course at that time. Thank goodness I always have my trusty little torch with me, it waas about a 15 minute walk. The guide told us all about the turtles and what we had to do so that they don’t get stressed. This is an important site with about 30,000 turtles coming here annually to lay eggs. The females come in and lay about 1000 eggs in 3 batches about 2 weeks apart – the males don’t come on land they stay at sea. Out of that 1000 only about 3 baby turtles survive – there are foxes on the beach and crabs digging for their eggs , and when they hatch they are a likely feast for birds as they scramble to get to the sea… then once in the sea they get eaten too. So when you see the effort those mother turtles make to come out of the sea, dig holes and lay and bury their eggs and then make their way back to the sea you feel very privileged to be able to see part of that process of their circle
We had to remain silent and keep a distance , always being behind the turtle. So under a fabulously starry Arabian sky I saw two green back turtles – one laying eggs and the other had laid and was covering them methodically. It’s quite a thing to sit quietly, patiently and watch this process on the cool sand in the dark…and so the time passed and I had spent almost 2 hours there.
And that wasn’t the end of it – I was up at 4am ( yes I can get up early if I want to!!!) and this time there were only 3 of us went with the guide ( he took us in the jeep this time) and we firstly saw one more turtle as she finished covering and made her way to the sea. A second turtle was way at the end of the beach almost under the rocks she had dug her hole … it was like a cave then she spent ages covering and getting herself out as we watched her and it was getting light – our guide said we could stay and watch and he was going back to
the centre. There we were on the beach 3 women with this turtle making such a mammoth effort and we saw her all the way back to the sea and disappear into the waves. And the great thing was as it got lighter and the sun rose I could do a David Attenborough and took a 5 min video, but I am not sure whether can get a video posted on here. It was a pity I didn’t see any baby hatchlings but it is low season.
So I add that to my wildlife events and it’s up there with the killer whales in NZ, the otter in Canada, the cassowary in Oz and elephants in Sri Lanka. I consider myself so lucky to be able to have those experiences.
Now I am back in Dubai and it’s been chilly- I had to put my pashmina round me and people were wearing sweaters!!
Enjoy the pics. Lv xxx
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