Sunday, June 09, 2013

Camping in Musandam

The other day I remarked to Jeremy that to really enjoy a travel outing in this region, you have to do it twice: the first time to figure out all the pitfalls and idiosyncrasies and special needs of the route/destination, and the second time to actually enjoy the trip to the fullest extent. We have been very lucky with some of our first-time-through trips to camp in the wilderness here, but more often than not, the stress/confusion vs. enjoyment ratio is slightly off-balance until the second time around.

The occasion for this remark was our recent camping venture into the mountains in Musandam, (Little) Oman, near Khassab. It was a fun trip, but it would have been more fun if we had done it all before and therefore avoided many, many wrong turns. Travel by car in this region is confusing even on city streets due to poor/confusing signage and non-intuitive road patterns. When you get out into the wilds and find yourself making, at best, an educated guess about which dirt track to take up the mountain, it's even more frustrating.

Fortunately, we still had ourselves a great time, especially since we had another family with us to share the experience. We drove up to the almost-top of Jebel al-Harim (the highest point in Musandam) to camp in the relative cool (80ish degrees at night) of 1600 meters elevation. We set up camp in the ruins of an old stone house.

Nearby were some graves. The people who used to live in the house, maybe?

First thing in the morning, the girls and I and the mom of the other family went on a hike to try to reach a viewpoint over the other side of the mountain. However, we ended up turning around before we got there because it was getting very hot and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to make it back. We'll have to go again during the cooler months in order to see what we can see.

What had been a stressful, seemingly never-ending drive up the mountain in the near-dark the night before, was a very pleasant descent through the mountains in the warm sun of the morning.

We passed through the village of Al See, which is perched on a plateau in the middle of the mountain range.

One of the highlights of this trip for the kids were the goats. So many goats. Everywhere. it got to the point where we were all joking that the goats ran this country and we were their guests.

Since it was too hot to pretty much even exit the car at sea level, we made for a nearby beach that is the only beach in the fjords that is accessible by car (Khawr al-Najd). Check it out:

Gorgeous, right? Well, only from a distance, it turns out. We got our overheated selves down there and found a reeking, filthy mud beach infested by GOATS. It was just too much, even for our somewhat relaxed beach standards for this region. We headed back up and over to a beach just beyond Khassab - clear, cool water, clean sand, and plenty of seashells for the finding.

When it was even a little too hot to be swimming, we packed up and headed home. Now we are armed with lots of information for next time - which roads to take, the location of a nice acacia grove to camp in when it's cooler, a hike to look forward to, and the knowledge that Khawr al-Najd is great for the view, not so much for the swimming. I'd call this trip a success. 


Suzanne Bubnash said...

What a great trip, even w/ the learning curve.

Crys said...

I love that you live someplace that gets "too hot to be swimming." :)

Liz Johnson said...

I went camping this weekend. It was much colder for us, and my eldest child puked all over the inside of the tent. Your trip sounds way more fun.


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