Northern Musandam: Wadi Khasab

Days of rest are many here in the UAE.  June 6th is as of now (May 20th of this year) a national holiday here in the UAE called Al Isra’a Wal Miraj in Arabic, الإسراء والمعراج.  It is taught in the Quran to be the day that the Prophet Muhammed traveled to Jerusalem from Mecca in one night and ascended to heaven to speak with God.  So with yet another holiday suddenly upon us we quickly packed our camping gear together and headed for the mountains of Oman for our last possible chance to sleep comfortably under the stars.

Following the coastline.
Following the coastline.

We departed University City around 3:00pm, and arrived at the border crossing by about 4:30pm.  No trouble there and we were on the road.  The road past the border winds closely along the coast with the Arabian Gulf stretching out on one side, and steep mountain cliffs on the other.  With no clear road signs (or signs with familiar names) we missed the turn off to the Sayh Plateau and stopped instead at the Acacia Forest.

Acacia Forest near Sall Ala
Acacia Forest near Sall Ala

At 7:30, it was still +43C so we decided to pass up the temptation to set up camp here and head to the mountains where the temperature would likely drop to a more tolerable level.  We drove back along the road to a small village that was located where we had expected the turnoff to be.  Our trusty arab speaking ‘cousin’ made quick work of getting us on the right path after flagging over some local men and asking for directions.

IMG_0884
Sunset approach up Wadi Khasab

The road up the mountain was unpaved, and steep but not nearly as soft and sandy as the mountain road we attempted the last time we were in Oman.  The view was beautiful as we watched the sun disappear behind the mountains…I wish I could better portray in photographs the beauty we witnessed.  It took approximately 25-30 minutes to reach the camping site confirmed to us only by the presence of other tents visible in our headlights.  We searched among the rubble of an old settlement to find relatively flat ground free of rocks for pitching our tents.  James and Jeremy set to building a fire from the dead branch of a near by Acacia tree, while us ladies set out to assemble our shelters.  Dinner was quick and conversations short as we were all off to slumberland by 10:30.

My kids were focused on their devices most of the drive out, missing all the beautiful scenery, and when night fell that did not change.  They quickly ate their dinner and hurried off to watch movies and play games on the iPad in their tent.  Jaron must have been watching an action movie, as the sound of rattling guns and people yelling kept me awake late into the night.

I couldn’t have been happier with our chosen camping spot (unless I had gotten more sleep) when morning came and I had a perfect view of the sun rising up over Jebel as Sayh at 5:30 in the morning.  I quickly dressed and emerged from my tent to go about taking care of the morning business.  A few shots of the campsite in daylight, and then a trek up the trail to take in the view.

View of camp and Jabal as Sayh from the hiking path.
View of camp and Jabal as Sayh from the hiking path.

The temperature was perfect, and the hike was a little treacherous to be climbing in my flip-flops.  I was soon joined by our two little “cousins” Miriam and Megd, and we explored the area for cool rocks while we waited for their Mom to join us.  As we saw tents collapse we headed back down the mountain for a quick breakfast.  We were off by 8:00am, back down the mountainside to find our way to Khawr an Najd.

Mountain path to Khawr an Najd
Mountain path to Khawr an Najd

Khawr an Najd is the only beach bay accessible in the fjords by car.  To get there you must drive up a road cut into the side of the mountain, much like what we drove up Wadi Khasab to the camp site on Jebel as Sayh.  The view was spectacular, and  the beach…less impressive.  The amount of garbage on the beach and floating in the water was enough to convince us to start home and find a suitable beach along the coast.

Just past Khasab we pulled into a large gravel/sand lot next to a bluff named Bassa Beach.  By this time the outside temperature was back to +40, and the water was just cool enough to give relief.  We had pulled up on the beach near a group of young teenage boys who were jumping off the bluff into the ocean.

James and Jeremy jumped off the cliff with some Omani boys.
James and Jeremy jumped off the cliff with some Omani boys.

No surprise then when James and Jeremy disappeared to investigate did we see them a top the bluff with this group of boys.  One by one they flung themselves from the top.  Bridget guessed it was at least 40 feet to the water.  James claimed a ‘lost’ t-shirt he found lying on a rock near the bottom of the bluff, and both received injuries from grazing the sharp rocks on their way back to beach.  The younger kids were quite happy to just look for shells on the ocean floor in the clear blue water.  2 hours here and then we were ready to move on.

Crossing the border on the way back was as quick as one could expect, though the lineup for those traveling into Oman must have been quite a wait.  We made a good decision traveling the day before the holiday instead of on the holiday instead.

Enjoy some more photos from the trip.  I apologize for them seeming out of order.  The photos are from multiple cameras…

5 responses to “Northern Musandam: Wadi Khasab”

  1. What a fun trip with beautiful pictures! What kind of filter do you have on your camera? I’m glad it was still tolerable enough to be outdoors for your holiday!

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    1. The shots that look over processed were from my iPhone using filters from an app called Camera+. I usually just use a clarity filter from the Scene selection and then something special if the mood strikes. All other pictures had a post process contrast boost, and sharpness adjusted. There may be another camp and hike planned for the end of July but I don’t know if we’ll all go. Can’t wait to show you guys around this fall, bring your camping gear!

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  2. Good shots because these are the real picturesque of the Oman locations. This is known as the Norway of the Emirates.

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  3. Hi,
    My Family and I have planned to go camping to musandam in coming days. We are execting few friends as well whcih may sum up to 20 to 22 all together on a road trip to musandam.
    We want to camp somewhere around the beach with access to toilet ( for women ).
    Could you please let me know :
    a. which border did you get in through ?
    b. was it easy get visa on arrival or do we need to have prior confirmation ? ( which i have read on net on few threads )
    c. Any suggestions on beach side camping or which you recommend ?
    Many Thanks,
    Darwin

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    1. Musandam is beautiful and the drive there is fantastic…once you cross the border (pretty boring up until). I’m not sure the exact name of the border we crossed at but it was on the west side (RAK side) of the peak, just north of Al Qir. We did the Visa on arrival thing like you would at any other point entering Oman, so expect exit fees (35dhs/person) and entry fees (50dhs/person). The only time we needed prior confirmation was when we did one of those Yallabanana boat tours, in which case we needed the paperwork (printed tickets) to show that the Visa fees were included in our tour package. There are quite a few beach areas along the roadside. Bassa Beach, however, has a toilet and PLENTY of flat, open space to set up a large tent city. The toilets are located next to the entrance closest to some cliffs that go out into the ocean. That is where we set up when we were there last and there is some cool snorkelling and cliff jumping in that area. The rocks can be sharp though, so take caution. Nice area to collect shells as the beach is pretty much made of just that. Good luck.

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