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Published: September 8th 2015
We awoke early the next day ready to head south on our Oman road trip. Leaving Muscat we drove south on the highway through the extensive Hajar Mountain range before arriving at the Bimmah Sinkhole. It's essentially a huge hole in the ground created by the collapse of the limestone surface and filled with inviting turquoise water. Trunks on, I wandered in watching little fish dart around not knowing that as soon as I stopped moving they'd start nibbling away! Kind of like what those fish pedicure things are like I suppose, it was ticklish but a little unnerving! So the sinkhole essentially has a waist high plateau before plunging down to who knows how deep. You can't see the bottom, just an endless blue down into the depths. No-one has been able to measure how deep the sinkhole goes, which makes swimming over it pretty scary! I half expected some kind of unknown sea creature to lurch up and pull me down, but no, all I had to content with was the nibbling fish.
Moving on our next stop along the way was Wadi Shab. Wadi is an Arabic term usually referring to a river cut valley, typically holding
water at times of heavy rain and flood. This particular wadi was accessible for tourists and locals to wander up and enjoy as far as possible, it had a natural stream at the source so there are pockets of water to enjoy. We took a little boat over the wide part of the river by the sea before beginning our walk. To begin with the wadi was wide, with date palm plantations and little houses hugging the valley sides but very quickly it narrowed and deepened so that the valley sides provided plenty of shade from the hot sun. Not before long we came across out first water pool, and as inviting as it was it involved a 30ft leap off a cliff edge so we waited for the next pool. Onwards we trekked as the valley winded up, it narrowed and widened and we clambered over boulder fields and walked with irrigations channels. Finally we reached the end (or the beginning!) and a beautiful natural pool was awaiting us. About neck high, the pool refreshed the bones after the 2 hour walk in near 40 degree temperatures. We swam a while and watched as others arrived, a handful of
tourists like us but mostly locals - families, groups of teenagers and couples all arrived with picnics and almost all got in the refreshing pool as the remote place took on a quiet party atmosphere! An hour passed before we begrudgingly headed back down the wadi to our car. We drove onto Sur and arrived just in time to see the sun set over the lagoon behind out hotel. It was a picturesque end to an incredible day.
The next day we awoke and had a quick little look around Sur - going past Dhow workshops, upto restored forts overlooking the city and through a local market. We drove further south to Raas Al Hadd where we checked into our next hotel. This one was a cracker, situated with a private beach on a sheltered lagoon we were taken to our private beachside hut. The water was beckoning again and so we put on our snorkels to watch the coral and fish swim by. That night after dinner, we drove onto our reason for being here for the night - Raas Al Jinz Turtle Reserve. A globally important nesting sites for turtles, I'd read that this was
one of the most reliable places to see turtles in the world. After a quick briefing (no cameras!) we headed down to the beach. Lit only by the moon and stars and with only the sound of the waves waited for our first sighting. It wasn't long before our guide said a female had been spotted and over we went. When we arrived, it was apparent that she's been there a while as there was already a big hole into which she was laying eggs! What an amazing sight, to see this huge 5ft turtle laying her eggs, which where suitably massive as well. No one wanted to leave but our guide said there was another female close by that was heading back to sea. As we wandered over the beach the sand around us started moving... baby turtles! Baby turtles where hatching and emerging from the sand right around us, how incredibly lucky. I kept my feet glued to the ground scared I might tread on a little guy as our guide scooped them all up (because they where now confused by the torch light) and we headed to the waters edge to let them go free. As we
did, crabs poked up from the sand and tried to get close, but no one on the group would let them. Sorry crabs, but these babies where not going to be your dinner. That excitement over we headed over to watch another massive turtle labour over the beach back to the sea. She seemed to take an eternity before finally a wave caught her and swept her away. And then our time was up, and we drove back to the hotel not being able to believe how lucky we were!
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