Salalah: the long journey home (includes downloadable routes)

Having had the most wonderful but very busy week touring Salalah, we were almost reluctant to head home.  Neil was returning to work offshore in just two days time, and we had 1100 monotonous kms to drive.

 

We left on the first day of “big” rains, and took the opportunity to get the car cleaned for free, just by driving through a huge puddle.  Did you know it’s illegal to have a dirty car in Oman?

 
We stopped to refuel and replenish the coolbox at Thumrait, and an interesting looking gentleman finished off the car valeting for a few dirhams.

We wanted to see the last major attraction in the Frankincense Trail, so detoured to search for the Lost City of Ubar.  This road is part of highway 43, but they are repairing/improving it and bits of the temporary gatch are soft sand – so a 4×4 is a must if you go this way. 

A once thriving oasis dropped into a sinkhole, to be covered by sand and hidden for centuries, until it was discovered from satellite photos in 1992.  This is the least exciting archaelogical site we visited, although it has many myths and rumours attached to it – read more about it on this excellent wikipedia page .  At least we can say we’ve been there!

 
From various maps we deduced we could rejoin Road 31 via a minor road from Ubar, and we were having difficulties in finding the start of the track.  A friendly local gentleman stopped to see we were ok, then drove us in convoy to the start of the track tyo Dawkah, then invited us to his home for tea and gawa and dates.  We sadly had to decline as we had another 800kms ahead of us.  The gatch was in generally good condition, a bit lumpy in places, but we made good time and didn’t see another soul for the 73kms back to Road 31.

The road home was just as tedious as it was on the way down.  We stopped for petrol every time our tank was just below half full, and interestingly, one of the gas stations had run out.  As we didn’t desperately need to fill up we had plenty of fuel to take us to the next station, 107kms up the road.

We changed our route from the outward journey and didn’t go home via Nizwa, instead using Paolo Rossetti’s track which took us over some minor very quiet roads to Ibri, and saved us quite a few kms and a couple of hours.  We arrived in Ibri and stopped for a very fine curry at an Indian/Pakistani cafe, Neil said the beef curry was one of the best he had ever tasted, though our meal was expensive compared to similar establishments in the UAE  – we were 2.3 OMR for the two of us (that’s about 4 GBP).

This photo’s linked from another website, it was pitch dark when we arrived (sunset is about 7pm here in July).
We didn’t reach the border til about 10.30pm, thankfully it was very quiet and formalities only took a few minutes.  It was then a relatively short drive of about 35kms to our home.

Route: Salalah Long Way Home can be downloaded here

Diversion to Lost City of Ubar in standalone track can be downloaded here

 

Other Blogs in this series on Salalah – 

Route Five: Long Journey Home

Salalah: Bits I have missed

Picture blog: Camels and Coos
Picture blog: birds and beasties

 

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