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Published: October 27th 2013
After working for way too long without a vacation, I was in need of three things... Adventure, photography and exploration in a new country. When I heard of Oman, I was thinking... What in the world is there to do there? Camels treks, hiking, and Nomads in tents? There has to be more, and it sounds like an adventure waiting to happen, so I'm in, and a road trip it is, so even better! After taking a look at the map, with a friend that has been before that wants to guide, I was told about some nice rock climbing areas, and this amazing canyon with a "suprise at the end". Now who could say no to that? So we picked up two friends from Europe, packed and off we go!
Dubai is sensory overload, no way around it. Everything is over the top. Not that that is always bad, but it was nice to see the Burj Kalifa disapear in the rear view mirror, along with civilization. Just outside of town these great orange sand dunes apeared, and you can envision the camel caravans travelling. We did see a couple camels, but they eluded the camera. After
an hour or two we made it to the Oman boarder. The landscape changed to a craggy wasteland, and you could certainly film any movie trying to portray Mars for the next 100 miles. Our first stop is a small fortress and village about 15 minutes from the main road to Muscat. We pulled up to the touristy fortress and found it nearly empty and were free to roam. After seeing this "oasis" with palm trees and a small town we headed to the local river, which was a gathering place for locals. Being the only Westerners around, of course we were the main attraction, but after a few minutes of sitting next to the river everyone continued what they were doing and life went on as normal.
The river had little fish that bit your toes, there was a local band playing the drums and singing, kids playing in the river, a lady is herding her goat, and donkeys are walking about. Everyone is relaxed in this pool with waterfall at the base of a much larger gorge. We discuss the options for some canyoneering or climbing on a later trip, then it's time to hit
the road and motor along to Muscat.
After what seemed like 5 or 6 hours of driving we pull into Muscat and find our hotel for the evening, head out to town for dinner and find the mall and shopping centers are not all that much different from the UAE. We plan tomorrow's trip, a vehicle exploration of some back roads in the mountains, and a hike in the "mysterious canyon". After breakfast at the hotel, we are off on the road. We are looking at the map, and it looks like a 30 or so mile off road trip on questionable roads. As the mountains grew nearer, the terrain grew and we faced 1000 meter mountains with steep winding roads ahead. As we chug up the dirt road and switchbacks, we lose civilization again, and occasionally run into a mountain village of 5-10 mud houses and people seem to pay us no attention, with the exception of occasionally asking for rides. The road gets much steeper and more rocky and we reach a crux. A steep, loose, rocky passage that is questionable on a narrow section. After several attempts with both speed, finesse and brute thugishness,
we come to the conclusion that we have to back down, and we won't be making it to the top of the rim. It took quite a bit longer than expected to get to where we were anyway, so it wasn't all bad, and we headed back down and in search of the canyon hike with the rest of the day.
The parking area for the hike was at the mouth of a huge canyon, with a river dumping into the gulf of Oman. Inspiring really, palm trees, green water and who knows what awaiting us in the canyon. The first task is to ford the river so after sinking down in the oozing mud we begin the hike up the canyon. The wide mouth of the canyon narrows a bit and the muddy bottom leads to a narrow path moving around house sized boulders. The walls are massive, and the trail disapears into a large boulderfield with boulder hopping and no distinct trail. The path of least resistance is always a fun challenge to seek out, and after an hour or so of scrambling, we make it to a pristine pond. It's getting late in the
day now and the sun is an hour or so from setting, so we are getting short on time. The water was warm and inviting and we strip down for a swim. One pond leads to another, then another and 4 ponds later we swim to a rock wall. After closer inspection, the wall has a crack in it and it is baaaarely large enough to squeeze through. We break through and my mouth opens in awe...
A massive rock chamber, it reminds me of the dome of a cathedral with a waterfall inside and rays of light breaking through. I couldn't have ever imagined the suprise at the end of this canyon, and it is something I want to travel back to with a Gopro to document. The locals have attached a rope to the side of the waterfall so you can climb up, and slide down the waterfall into the natural waterpark. Its really getting late in the day now so we make our way back to the base of the pools just as the sun starts to set, and now we know we must hurry and make progress through the boulderfield before it is
too dark. Half way through we are caught... no light in a large boulderfield. Out come the phone lights and we trek on! After making it back to the car, then back to the hotel we were tired from the day, and hit the hay early.
The next day explored the town a bit, then the Qaboos Grand Mosque. Westerners aren't allowed in many mosques, but this one allowed tourists as long as you had all of your skin covered. It was well worth the trip, and it was truely amazing inside. After some more exploration we hit the road back towards Dubai, and stop off at a climbing area in the middle of nowhere near the UAE boarder. We kit up, and get some sport climbs in on supurb pocketed limestone. Fun routes, and we have the mountain to ourselves for a while before another climbing team comes to join us. After a few routes, we spot an amazing line that looks a little to difficult for our climbing ability, but decide to give it a go anyway. An overhang proves to be the technical crux, and after figuring it out in bad style, we make
it to a runout section of chimney climbing that proves to be the mental crux. I haven't climbing in about two years, and after looking at the 25ft cheese grater fall potentional, I decided to back down and try it another day. We are happy with the three day adventure, and stopped in those orange sand dunes on the way back for some 4-wheeling. A great trip, and it leaves Oman much higher on the list of countries to plan return adventures in... especially canyoneering!
Tot: 2.511s; Tpl: 0.067s; cc: 15; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0467s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb