We crossed over to Oman via the Mezyad/Hafeet border, then continued inland via Ibri and Bahla, breaking our long journey up with a visit to the splendid Bahla Fort. A vast sprawling building, it was closed for renovations for a number of years but has been open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays since September 2012. There are no artefacts, guns or furnishings yet but the sheer scale of the fort makes a visit very worthwhile. There is a distinct lack of signage, so do some googling before you get here.
We were lucky enough to see a colony of fruit bats in one of the towers, here’s a couple that hung around for a photo
We pressed onwards to Sur and our accommodation at Ras Al Hadd Hotel. A basic two star hotel, everywhere was spotlessly clean and there was plenty of hot water for a refreshing shower after our long journey.
The last time I visited Sur a local friend showed me where I could spot turtles coming in to nest so I dragged my family down to have a look and we were rewarded by the sight of two. I didn’t take my own photos – I don’t have a low light lens/sensor and camera flash disturbs the turtles so here’s a photo I borrowed from elsewhere.
Next day saw us exploring, snorkelling, beachcombing and fishing along the coast between Ras Al Hadd and Sur.
The Sur area being relatively unspoilt and undeveloped is a haven for wildlife be it fish, birds or reptiles.
Neil tried to herd this little fella towards me in the hope that it would run up my leg, but thankfully it paused on my sandal
After a session snorkelling it quite rough and surprisingly deep water, we dried off and continued our coastal tour. We had earlier planned a route on google earth down to a sheltered cove and we made our way offroad towards the sea.
We had hoped to get the car down to the beach but sadly the gravel road down had been washed away by the winter rains so we had to complete the last few hundred metres on foot. Incidentally we had a fair bit of tricky wadi track to negotiate to get to this point – a 4×4 is essential and we would suggest that only lifted cars or those with very good clearance even attempt this route.
We had the beach completely to ourselves – this would be a great place to camp (but not if rain forecast) as there is an abundance of firewood which has been washed down the wadi in the wet season.
The Bruce family love a day at a beach like this which yields some very interesting finds for only an hour’s beachcombing as well as picnicing, sunbathing, swimming and fishing.
Neil caught this bonny fish! Actually it was a bony fish with sharp spikes and got thrown back after the hook as carefully removed.
Here’s my shell seeking finds – wish I had placed a coin or something beside them so you can get an idea of scale. The top shell is about 8″ long.
Our final day in the Sur area saw us travelling to Wadi Bani Khalid, following the coastal route south til we cut inland, skirted round the foot of the mighty Hajar range, eventually meandering up a good mountain road. Definition – good mountain road: one which is tarred and has crash barriers!
First highlight of the day, indeed one of our holiday highlights was sighting dolphins just off the coast – there were at least five of them, circling around and diving for fish!
Many people know these pools as “Wadi Bani Khalid” however they are signposted as “Maqal Pools and Cave”.
We visited on a weekday when there were few visitors, mainly western expats and safari tourists, but I believe the place could be uncomfortably crowded on a weekend (Thurs/Fri in Oman) and on public holidays.
We swam in the gorgeous clean water with a number of different varieties of fish, until we reached the point where you would have to scramble over rocks to go further. This was the ultimate swimming experience for me with cool water and amazing views of the rocky ravine.
The walk from the car park takes you up some paved path until it becomes necessary to walk along some falaj walls until you reach the oasis.
Now be warned but the water is deep, very deep. There is a shallow pool nearest the carpark which would be fine for kids with adult supervision. Then the next pool up is deeper – I couldn’t touch the bottom. By the time you reach the first bridge the water is 5 metres deep, and beyond the second bridge it is approximately 10 metres deep. There are no lifeguards on duty – if you are not a competent swimmer, please take care!
This area is popular with locals so please dress modestly – this is not the place for bikinis and skimpy swimwear.
There is a cafe/snack bar, as well as reasonably clean toilets.
Our final day saw us tackling the long journey home, via the Sur dhow yard as well as Wadi Dayqah dam. A long day but an interesting drive through past beaches, through mountains and over plains.
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