We first discovered this wonderful wadi when we drove (most) of Mike Nott’s “Oman Empty Quarter” route from his book “Advanced Off-Road Adventure Routes UAE & Oman.” Neil and I had travelled to Salalah in 2013 as part of Mike’s convoy as he finalised routes 17 to 20 for the second edition of the book and were very fortunate in having the time to stay another week and take the long offroad route home. We also revisited this Wadi as part of our Christmas trip in 2014.
The complete Empty Quarter route is 1365kms in length, but in common with many routes in his book, it can be split into shorter day/weekend routes. Since we were at the end point, we naturally completed the route in reverse. I am not particularly keen on mountain roads and we are a little nervous of being too near the Yemen border so we cut out Points OE84 to OE79.
Starting from Salalah, where you should fuel up and stock up with food and ice, we headed westwards until we hit OE85. We then headed North on Road 45 to Mudayy (various spellings on the signs), over a graded track, which is part of my route Salalah: The Perfect Square Circle, stopping to search for fossils and arabian leopard footprints on the way. We continued on the 45 as it swings westwards until we reached point OE77.
Once off rhe road, meander your way through the wadi until you reach point OE75 – a distance, depending on path taken, of around 55-60kms. To vary the terrain a little, near the end we followed a track which took us up an escarpment, before returning to the wadi. We completed most of the wadi on full inflation, but eventually the soft sand at the top beat us!
In 2013 we refuelled at OE76 then rejoined the route heading North, but in 2014 we returned to Salalah via Thumrait. (If you find yourself hungry at Thumrait, can I recommend the wonderful Thumrait Palace Restaurant – they make the best onion curry anywhere, and is very cheap.)
Last december we took just over 28 hours to cover the route, with lots of stops and an overnight camp – you could traverse the wadi itself in a matter of hours, but is so beautiful and remote we think it is worth taking your time.
Here are some of my favourite photos from both trips. Please click on the individual images to see the captions.
Our journey from Salalah to the start
Our route to the start point- in red (OE77)
Mud – can anyone identify the footprints?
Sand and Rocks
Our route below. We followed more or less the same path for both our 2013 and 2014 journeys. In December 2014 there were many more sand dunes at the north of the wadi, suggesting no rainfall since the previous year, yet conversely, near our campspot (marked below) we found lots of firewood which had been swept down the wadi, suggesting heavy rainfall.
If you buy Mike’s book you will receive a cd with all the waypoints and routes. The book itself contains lots of excellent advice for the offroader/overlander, as well as detailed descriptions of the routes. In addition, there is a facebook page to publicise any route updates and share photos and stories from the routes.