Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oman 2012.2: The old

This most recent trip to Oman was our fourth one, not counting inconsequential hops across the border to Buraimi. We just keep going back...and we just keep going to the same places. There's a reason these places are our favorites! This time, we had the added bonus of two other families traveling with us, for a grand total of six adults and nine children (ages 10 months to 12 years) in three vehicles.

Wadi Shab
Not counting the border crossing, this place is a cool six-hour drive from Sharjah. Yes, you have to put up with Oman's annoying road infrastructure that consists of either a) 120kph highways segmented into 10km stretches, delineated by roundabouts; or b) poorly signed megafreeways that are awesome, if only you could find them. But once you get past Muscat it's a nice drive through mountains that open up onto a stellar view of the coastline and the tiny villages that run up and down its length.

At Wadi Shab, we hiked all the way up to the cave waterfall, which is farther than we've ever gone before. Having a bigger group with us helped get everyone to the beautiful pool near the high point of the wadi. Then we took turns watching the kids there so the adults could swim farther on through a few more pools, then through an underwater tunnel (with room to keep your head up for air, thank goodness) into a cave with a waterfall in it. It's just as well I don't have any pictures because they wouldn't do it justice.

The good/bad news is that the trailhead of Wadi Shab now has a bathroom. Good because: bathroom. Bad because: admit it - sometimes it's more of an adventure when you have to pee in the bushes and/or find a way to change into your swimsuit in the car.

Camping on the beach at Al-Fins
We spent so long enjoying Wadi Shab that by the time we headed out to find a camping spot, it was dark. Somehow, unaided by GPS (since these specific coordinates were lost with the death of Nigel), Jeremy and I found the exact off-road site where we camped in January.

It's the perfect spot....

...and it even has its own private pebble beach in a protected cove.

Church in Muscat
Hooray for Mormons in far-flung international branches! With fifteen visitors just in our party alone, and with us not even being the only visitors, the tiny Muscat branch was probably a little overwhelmed. However, they accepted us with style and we even scored lunch at their Linger Longer.

And hoo boy, was it ever a Linger LONGER. Seriously epic. The kids played in the Nursery for hours.

Jebel Akhdar
I love this place so much, even though our lovely camping site from January now has a wall blocking access, courtesy of the Ministry of Defense. It's just as well, since we found another campsite (thanks to some helpful locals who dropped what they were doing to help us) that was better for the kids, in that it did not border huge drop-offs on three sides.

The kids had the kind of fun that you can only get in the great, untamed outdoors beyond the reach of toilets and baths and dinner tables. It was glorious to behold. They had so much fun, in fact, that two of the kids (Magdalena was one) ripped right through the bum of their pants.

We had another great hike through the terraced villages. Some of us got to see shuwa being made, complete with big fiery pit in the ground.

Camping that night was cold, at about 2300m elevation (about 7500 feet). It felt good to be active and out of doors without being drenched in sweat.

That's all of the old. Next post: the new stuff we did...and will do again, for sure!


Suzanne Bubnash said...

I expect you to pick this exact itinerary again next time I come!

Kathy Haynie said...

Wow, wow, wow. I love your camping style. Looking forward to your next post!

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

It looks like a blast! I bet you could run a travel program for Mormon families who want an authentic Middle East camping experience! I would certainly sign up!

Cait said...

That is SO cool. I love how adventurous you are with your kids. We are edging our way to this path... but babies cramp your camping style for sure. Also, I'm excited for another international adventure this summer (Morocco, it looks like...)


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