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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…